Esmée Fairbairn Collections award funding for St Paul's community engagement project

News article

Esmée Fairbairn Collections award funding for St Paul's community engagement project

10 January 2022

We are delighted to have received funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund for a new community engagement project.

The project will bring multiple narratives to the interpretation of the Cathedral’s monuments, and aims to build relationships with a wider, more diverse audience, and enhance understanding of the Cathedral’s collection.

The project will see collaboration with diaspora communities to explore the history and context of a selection of the Cathedral’s monuments. Working closely with the Cathedral collections, the project will combine recent academic research undertaken by the University of York Art History Department, and institutional knowledge, to build relationships with community groups and produce new interpretation for visitors. Ultimately the project seeks to encourage social justice through a broader knowledge of, and participation in, our shared heritage.

The focus of the project is the Cathedral’s collection of monuments, specifically those added to the building from 1795 to 1916. Over this period, the Cathedral became home to some of the best and most ambitious works of sculpture by some of the period’s most celebrated artists. 

John Howard monumnet statue

The monuments are one of the most prominent aspects of a visit to the Cathedral, with extraordinary stories attached. 

Head of Collections at St Paul’s Cathedral, Simon Carter said:

'We are delighted to have received the support from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund to enable this important interpretation project. St Paul’s is home to a fascinating collection of monuments and memorials which help to illuminate how the British Empire developed, and how acts of commemoration and St Paul’s Cathedral played their part. Through working with diaspora communities we hope to gain greater understanding of the context of these monuments and the legacy of the period.'

The Chancellor of St Paul’s, Dr Paula Gooder said:

'The many monuments and memorials at St Paul’s are a prominent feature of any visit to the Cathedral, and are a part of the Cathedral’s long history as a place of national mourning and reflection. This new community engagement project, made possible by the generous support from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, will allow us to build on academic research into the monuments by engaging with people from many different diasporas. At the heart of this project is social justice, with the hope that by better understanding our collections and history, we can better understand our shared heritage.'

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is run by the Museums Association, funding projects that develop collections to achieve social impact. Since its launch in 2011, it has awarded 162 projects with grants totaling over £11 million. 
For more information about the project, and other projects funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collection fund in 2021, please visit the Museums Association website.