The Museum of East Anglian Life started 50 years ago this month

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

After 50 years charting the life and stories of people in East Anglia, a museum is looking ahead to an “incredibly exciting” time on their own journey.

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

After 50 years charting the life and stories of people in East Anglia, a museum is looking ahead to an “incredibly exciting” time on their own journey.

The Museum of East Anglian Life started 50 years ago this month, with this year also marking the start of a multi-million pound regeneration.

The 75 acre “hidden oasis” in the centre of Stowmarket is one of the region’s most under-celebrated jewels.

Museum director Jenny Cousins, who has been in place nine months, is looking ahead to the start of the centre’s next 50 years.

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“Everyone eats, so this museum is relevant to everyone,” she said. “What we are very keen to do is to help people understand how their food gets from a farm to their plate.

“This is more and more important, so many children now when asked where an egg comes from, for example, will just say ‘the supermarket’.

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“That is what we have here, the history and the story of how food goes from the farm to the plate.”

Mrs Cousins is overseeing the launch of the Heritage Farm project, a bid to honour the vision of the museum’s founders to save and celebrate the farming heritage of East Anglia.

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The project is ambitious in scope, with funding of around £3million needed to help show the best of the museum’s collection.

Currently in very early stages, plans include the construction of a kitchen classroom, a new exhibition building and better facilities.

“The 50th anniversary is a great way to start a regeneration at the museum and reach more and more people,” said Mrs Cousins.

With an incredible 120 regular volunteers, the museum is almost a small rural village in itself.

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Curator Lisa Harris has been at the museum for 16 years, joking she is close to being tagged and put in the museum as an exhibit herself.

With the museum recently being awarded Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation status, along with £590,000 in funding, she said it is an incredibly exciting time for the centre, which includes the almost hidden but stunning Abbot’s Hall manor house and gardens.

“I have been waiting for something incredible like this to happen,” she said. “It is a great time for the museum.”

Mrs Harris is in charge of bringing history to life through the huge collection of some 40,000 objects. She said for her, the best part of her job was hearing the stories of visitors and volunteers.

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG

Museum of East Anglian Life celebrate their 50th anniversary. Entrance to the museum. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

She added: “Hearing how people actually remember the objects in our collection, what they meant to them and how they were used, it shapes our understanding and helps us tell the story of East Anglian life.”

• To find out more about the museum go to www.eastanglianlife.org.uk