Volunteers help East Anglian museum thrive during lockdown

Four people tending to garden bed

Heritage Grants

East of England
Museum of East Anglian Life
£48800
The open-air Museum of East Anglian Life relies on volunteers to care for its 17 historic buildings and three kilometres of woodland and nature trails.

Set in 75 acres of Suffolk countryside, the Museum of East Anglian Life explores the agricultural, industrial and cultural history of East Anglia. Their volunteers play a vital role in caring for the resident animals, looking after the estate and welcoming guests.

“Two days a week up here definitely helped. I felt safe in here – safer than anywhere else apart from home.”

Heather, volunteer

While the museum was closed from March to July 2020, some of these activities had to be suspended. But the walled gardens continued to be maintained by three dedicated volunteers.

Woman standing with spade next to bright orange and yellow flowers
Volunteer Heather

Volunteer Heather said, “Two days a week up here definitely helped. I felt safe in here – safer than anywhere else apart from home.”

“We’re glad we came in, because if we hadn’t, we think it may have taken three years to catch up.”

The museum was able to safely reopen to the public on 16 July thanks to a £48,800 grant from our Heritage Emergency Fund. They adapted to provide more socially distanced volunteering opportunities, enabling them to look after more of the estate.

Thanks to a £99,200 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, the museum’s 18th-century Alton Watermill is also currently being restored. The project, ending in spring 2021, will include opportunities for the museum’s dedicated volunteers to become millers.

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