Every September, for the last 25 years, doors to historical buildings have been thrown open, as children, young people and their families are invited to explore local history, architecture and culture for free. As part of European Heritage Days, this is one of the largest national celebrations of heritage, and enables communities to come together to celebrate the places and share the stories that matter to them.
This year, Open Heritage Days runs from Friday 13th to Sunday 22nd September. We invited East Midlands organisations to share the remarkable aspects of this region's cultural heritage that they steward through their work, and how visitors can get involved throughout the festival.
For example, you might want to wander through the restricted areas of the collections held at the University of Leicester; travel back millions of years with specimens from across the world, explore the social history of the region, or discover a number of deadly dangerous objects and how they are used for teaching. A series of talks will take place throughout Thursday 19th and Friday 20th September, sharing the collections that underpin the University's fantastic teaching and research.
Or discover the changing ethos of learning at the iconic military establishment of RAF Cranwell. Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum's pop up exhibition will use text panels, images and exhibits to explore Cadet life in the 1920’s,1930’s and the present time, and can be visited throughout the festival.
You could also visit one of the many National Trust properties throughout the region taking part; explore the basements of Sudbury Hall, discover the new exhibition at Kedleston Hall or explore the stories of four creative women connected with Belton House throughout history. Explore Grantham House Gardens, or the 1,500 acres of grounds at Gunby House. Discover how the 17th century farmhouse of Woolsthorpe Manor played a role in some of the greatest scientific theories of all time, or uncover the deep and powerful stories of a family who amassed a vast collection of hidden treasures at Calke Abbey.
The Workhouse will be hosting a festival of poetry exploring health, well-being and poverty, and Tattershall Castle is exhibiting a series of temporary installations that explore the power, control and influence that were held over different people and places during the middle ages. Step back in time with a visit to Mr Straw's House, or roam the parkland, heath and woods of Clumber Park.
Read our guest blog by Anita Fox from The Collection, Lincoln, who shares how they are using Heritage Open Day to invite members of the local community to get involved in the development of their new outreach programme on Saturday 21st September. Or discover how Nettleham Heritage Association are working with Nettleham Junior School to present their own view of childhood through a unique exhibition taking place on Saturdays 14th and 21st September.
This is just a small selection of the many opportunities and activities taking place throughout the 10-day festival. Whatever events you decide to take part in, remember to check the individual websites for up to date times and availability, and you can share your experience through the Open Heritage Days social media channels. Discover the history and culture of your local area, and be part of England’s biggest voluntary cultural event.