Swindonians will be invited to volunteer to take part in four research projects looking at Swindon’s collection of art and artefacts.

And the idea is that while they learn something about the collections, their knowledge of Swindon, its history and daily life will add knowledge to those keeping the collections as well.

Swindon Borough Council has been granted £92,000 by Arts Council England for its Unlocking Collections project.

It will see volunteers join the council’s art professionals in four research projects.

‘Art on Our Doorstep’ will try to identify the present-day location of the scenes depicted in the collection and more about the life of the artist, 'Jurassic Swindon’ will explore Swindon’s rich prehistory, ‘Our Musical World’ will add detail about the collection of musical instruments from South and East Asia, and ‘Out on the Town’ will investigate the museum’s collection of tickets programmes poster and other ephemera from theatres, concert halls and music venues across Swindon.

The council’s cabinet member for art, culture and heritage, Councillor Marina Strinkovsky, is excited by the project and the grant,

She said: “It’s a real expression of confidence that Arts Council England has in Swindon as a town of arts and culture. Not everyone has thought of the town like that before.

“And it’s a vote of confidence in the museum and art gallery and the team here.”

But Coun Strinkovsky said what is most exciting is the interaction between the council’s museum staff and people living in Swindon: “This is about opening up the collection to people and inviting them in.

“The art gallery and museum has been literally closed for three years, but this is opening it out.

“It will be a new way of doing things, people will be working with our museum and gallery staff and doing proper research with them.

“But they will be teaching the experts just as much as the more traditional other way round.”

Coun Strinkovsky added: “Imagine in the ephemera project they are looking at a poster or a programme from a venue, and one of the research team’s neighbour’s uncle, or someone like that, once worked there.

“Then the uncle and the neighbour and the volunteer on the research team are giving much more information and insight to the collections staff, and that’s going to be really valuable.”

The council is planning an event for those interested in becoming a volunteer for the project at Steam Museum later this month.