Award-winning exhibition improved as museum gets facelift in time for reopening

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

An award-winning exhibition celebrating the region’s industrial heritage has been made more interactive as the museum opens its doors to the public once again.

Steel Stories, an interactive exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum, near Redcar, celebrates the area’s iron and steel industries. The exhibition has won a national award and attracted tens of thousands of visitors before Covid closed the museum.

The museum has also had other improvements and redecoration and re-opened yesterday (Tuesday 18 May) for people booking ahead as lockdown restrictions ease.

Improvements to the Steel Stories exhibition, which has been made more interactive, include: five new ‘sculptures’ which show the workings of ironstone mines and steelworks and the social life of steel families through the 19th and 20th centuries; more audio commentary, more interactive audio commentary, more photographs and more video.

One former steelworker who contributed to the improvements is Mike Guess, who has written a book, Teesside Steel – The Final Years. The book, on sale at the museum, features a lot of his own photography which he took while work as an electrical engineer at Concast, the continuous casting plant, at SSI in Redcar before it closed in 2015.

The dad and granddad, who still works as a High Voltage Engineer at the former steel works so the site and smaller companies can continue to receive electricity, started working in the industry aged 16, in 1979.

“The closure of SSI has been hitting home a bit recently as they’re dismantling the site’s structures,” said Mr Guess, who also offered advice on the creation of the new ‘sculptures’ in the museum.

“It brings it home just how important this exhibition is for our area.”

As well as the improvements to Steel Stories, there have been other improvements to the wider museum including a fully redesigned shop, redecoration at the museum’s famous First World War and Saxon exhibitions and improvements to the education rooms including a new mural which both celebrates the borough and serve as an education tool.

Councillor Wayne Davies, cabinet member for economic development, said: “Kirkleatham Museum is a major asset that has some of the area’s most important and loved exhibitions and we welcome everyone back to enjoy it.

“However, we must continue to work together and stick to the rules to ensure everyone stays safe.”