Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens has new curator

Anneke Hackenbroich, the new collections care manager at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (SMWG), is exploring the city’s past to help shape the future of the museum.

Sunderland City Council has been granted £300,000 in lottery funding to draw up new, detailed plans for a multi-million-pound development of the museum.

Anneke said: “My job is to work my way through the museum’s storerooms to find objects and stories that might be suitable for display in new spaces created for the redeveloped museum.

The Northern Echo: Anneke Hackenbroich hars at work in one of the museum’s storerooms

“Our stores are full to the brim, which is unsurprising given Sunderland’s rich history, and although the majority of items have been catalogued, some of these items have not been seen for many years.

“We’ve found all sorts of items, some of which have been difficult to identify or work out exactly what they are.

“We’re making exciting finds every week, and recently I found a beautiful sextant – an instrument used in maritime navigation – that hadn’t been catalogued. It’s great to bring these things that are central to Sunderland’s history back into the light.”

Anneke was born and educated near Stuttgart, graduating from Schwäbisch Gmünd University of Education with a degree in German history and political science.

The Northern Echo: Anneke Hackenbroich at work in one of Sunderland Museum's storeroomsAnneke Hackenbroich at work in one of Sunderland Museum’s storerooms (Image: SUNDERLAND CULTURE)

She moved to the North East after meeting her husband while working on the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site, and went on to work at Keswick Museum, Hexham Abbey and the Vindolanda Trust.

Anneke added: “Some of the objects we’re looking at date back many years, while others are a little more recent, and they range from paintings and artwork to military memorabilia, and from items from the city’s industrial and maritime heritage and household products.

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“We’re currently looking into what we have and exploring whether we have some objects with an exciting, interesting story that hasn’t yet been told.”

Members of the museum’s team and a team of volunteers are helping Anneke with her huge task.

Proposals drawn up for SMWG include the potential to move the main entrance into Mowbray Park, transforming the ground floor with a new central atrium space and new galleries as well as more family-friendly activities and exhibitions. The redevelopment will also create a new learning and engagement zone.

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