Dying Matters

World Cultures Curator Antonia Lovelace gives a sneak preview of the new Dying Matters display at Leeds City Museum

Death is perhaps the one experience that unites people the world over. But even though every person experiences death and dying, we can often shy away from talking about it.

The curators and community team at Leeds Museums and Galleries have linked up with the Leeds steering group of the national Dying Matters initiative to bring this topic to the fore for a seven month display in the Leeds Gallery at Leeds City Museum. The topic of death and dying is a very sensitive one, so we are working hard to deal with it appropriately, and promote positive debate.

The display, situated at the contemporary end of the Leeds Gallery, will look at funerals, preparation, sorting the deceased’s effects, memorials and the afterlife.

The museum’s collections host a huge variety of material, from Neolithic cinerary urns to 19th century bier carts, wills and funeral tea adverts, Chinese ancestor tablets, Chinese dolls wearing straw and white funeral clothes (pictured above), African memorial figures, winged angels and Mexican Day of the Dead paper cuts.

The curators have also collected new items, and borrowed a contemporary basketry wicker coffin, to modernise the selection.

Community Curator Marek films an interview for one of the Dying Matters films.

Two new films have also been commissioned, one with interviews taken at St Gemma’s and Wheatfields hospices, the other showing five Leeds people talking about Death and the Afterlife, which includes interviews with Xina Gooding of Hugh Gooding Funerals, and with the humanist bereavement counsellor and funeral officiant Bob Bury.

See the Dying Matters display at Leeds City Museum, 16 Dec – 30 July 2017. 

Learn more about the national Dying Matters initiative.

(A version of this blog post was previously published in the Friends of Lawnswood newsletter) 

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