Ripon Museum Trust is very pleased to welcome Helen Thornton as their new Director.
Helen has worked in the heritage and culture sector for 25 years, mainly in public sector museums, galleries and government agencies in the North of England including Liverpool, Rotherham, Manchester, Leeds and Bradford. Most recently, Helen has been Manager of Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Bradford which last year won ‘highly commended’ for the new David Hockney Gallery at the Museums and Heritage Awards.
Born on the Wirral, Helen’s first experience in museums was working as a volunteer with the Learning Team at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool. Since then, she has enjoyed a huge variety of fantastic experiences in museums and heritage – from delivering archaeological site guided tours, organising large outdoor events and festivals, documenting a huge variety of collections, lecturing, training and managing big capital projects. “The best part of being in museums is working with and meeting a broad diversity of passionate and knowledgeable people; colleagues and visitors.” Helen said. “Throughout my career I have worked closely with volunteers doing collections work, bringing exhibitions alive, explaining objects, guided tours, taking part in training and informing the visitor offer and delivering excellent customer care. I have also been fortunate to be involved with large externally funded projects such as the new Manchester University Museum, Kirkstall Abbey Visitor Centre, the Leeds City Museum and Resource Centre to name a few. This has given me experience with a wide variety of stakeholders, policy makers and funders.”
Helen is passionate about using collections, archives and historic buildings to develop a real sense of place, encouraging a better understanding of the heritage so that communities can feel pride and engagement in who they are and where they live. “Museums and the stories they can tell are powerful and the positive impacts they can have are very exciting. I am very much looking forward to getting to know everyone involved with Ripon Museum Trust, to understand better the wonderful work being done in the three museums and exploring the opportunities for further strengthening the Trust and developing the visitor experience to even greater things.”
Helen lives in Guiseley with her husband and two daughters (aged 10 and 12) and in her ‘spare’ time enjoys hill walking in the Dales, family time, reading and cooking (and eating the results!), and is very much looking forward to getting to know the City of Ripon, the various community groups and all the wonderful visitor attractions amongst which Ripon Museums are a key part.