Abbie King, Director of Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to share our 2022 programme of activities at Shire Hall. Social justice is at the heart of everything we do here at Shire Hall and next year we’ll be exploring topics from immigration and refugees to women’s experiences with the justice system.

“We’re delighted the British Museum have chosen Shire Hall as a venue for its spotlight exhibition tour ‘Crossings: community and refuge’, which includes loan of the Lampedusa Cross. Alongside our exhibitions, we will continue our diverse range of activities from schools’ workshops and business events to our Memory Café. 2022 promises to be an unforgettable year for Shire Hall.”

Crossings: community and refuge

A highlight of the year, Shire Hall is delighted to host Crossings: community and refuge, a spotlight loan from the British Museum, opening in December 2022. Including the Lampedusa Cross and poignant boat artwork, this exhibition will engage audiences in questions of identity, belonging and sharing our world.

In October 2013, an overcrowded boat carrying migrants from Somalia and Eritrea caught fire, capsized and sank near Lampedusa, off the coast of Tunisia. 311 people, who were fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in Europe, lost their lives. Moved by the plight of survivors, the island’s carpenter, Francesco Tuccio, made crosses from the wreckage. These signified salvation from the sea, hope for the future and as well as the sad fate of many migrants.

Alongside the Lampedusa cross, the exhibition will also feature 12 tiny boats from Syrian-born Issam Kourbaj, from his series Dark Water, Burning World. Made from repurposed bicycle mudguards tightly packed with burnt matches, the artwork represents the fragile vessels used by refugees to make their perilous voyages as a response to the ongoing tragedy in Syria. The boats convey the fear and exhaustion of the crossing, and the trepidatious uncertainty of survival.

Shire Hall will also be working with local organisations and community groups to build a programme of activity around the exhibition

Crossings: community and refuge will be on display from 1st December 2022 until 26th February 2023.

Raising Voices

In March 2022, Shire Hall launches its new series Raising Voices. The aim of this series is to share the stories of people and communities whose voices weren’t always heard.

This first instalment of the series will explore women’s experiences with justice. Examining the stories of Martha Brown, Charlotte Bryant and Violet Van der Elst, all of whom were involved with trials and sentencing at Shire Hall.

New interpretation on these women will be displayed throughout the museum, adding to the visitor experience and increasing awareness about these women, telling their stories through their own words. Over the next few years, Shire Hall will expand its Raising Voices series to discover and share stories from more people and communities.

Raising Voices: women and the justice system will open in March 2022.

Agatha Christie

From May until September 2022, Shire Hall is hosting an exhibition examining the life and works of one of the country’s favourite crime writers, Agatha Christie.

From Hercule Prior to Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s characters and stories have captivated readers and audiences for over 100 years. This exhibition will give visitors further insight into Christie’s writing and personal life, from the inspiration behind her work to the infamous story of her disappearance.

Alongside the exhibition, Shire Hall will be hosting a series of activities inspired by the writer, including family events and murder mystery evenings.

Agatha Christie will be on display from 29th April until 2nd September 2022.

Learning at Shire Hall Museum

Shire Hall’s life-long learning programme continues in 2022.

From British Values, to History, English and PHSE, Shire Hall’s historic building and stories can stimulate learning across the curriculum. The award-winning learning team at Shire Hall offer interactive and engaging sessions to schools, from Foundation through to Key Stage 5.

Alongside its school learning, the learning team at Shire Hall have also scheduled a series of informative and interesting talks from guest speakers across the country. Shire Hall’s Teas and Talks for 2022 covers a wide range of subjects, from Dorset Buttons and the underground tunnels of Dorchester to life in the Victorian Workhouse and smuggling in Dorset.

Anne Brown, Learning Manager at Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum, said: “At Shire Hall, we strongly believe that learning opportunities should be available to everyone, no matter what age. Which is why we’re so delighted to be expanding our life-long learning programme for 2022.

“We are increasing the number of schools sessions we deliver, expanding our topics for different key stages which will continue to encourage the development of critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. We’re also delighted to welcome new guest speakers to deliver our monthly Teas and Talks.”

Community Engagement

Since opening in 2018, Shire Hall has been committed to supporting the local community and its businesses.

In 2022, Shire Hall will continue its work with people living with dementia. After launching its Memory Café in August 2021, Shire Hall is looking to expand its work with people living with dementia and their carers and family. This will include regular reminiscence sessions, as well as a dementia friendly Cake Concert from the award-winning Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Supporting local businesses is also a key part of Shire Hall’s community engagement. As well as stocking products from local businesses in its shop, Shire Hall will continue to showcase and promote local businesses at its markets. Following the success of its Christmas Markets, Shire Hall will be hosting its first Easter Market in 2022. The Market will feature over 20 local businesses, selling everything from food and drink to photography and crafts.