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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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New Beacon boss calls for support

THE new-style Beacon is a ‘cracking’ museum and local people can be very proud of their state-of-the-art facility.

 New boss Elizabeth Kwasnik is urging the community to give it their full support.

“Work with us – we are here for you,” she urges. Dundee-born Elizabeth has just started her new job as director of The Beacon museum having come from Alloway, Ayr, the birthplace of Robbie Burns, where she was museums and galleries co-ordinator with South Ayrshire Council.

Elizabeth, 53, had been at Ayr for almost 20 years and felt she was ready to take on a new challenge. “Sometimes it’s good to take yourself out of your comfort zone.” News of the collaboration between Copeland Council and Sellafield Ltd in the creation of a revitalised museum appealed to Elizabeth.

She thinks it was an “enlightened” decision by Copeland to join with nuclear partners. “It is a brave thing for a local authority to do; they could have opted not to do it and this museum would be lost. They decided to go for it and succeeded in achieving a positive out of a negative. It is the way many museums will be going, if they want to survive.”

The daughter of a Polish Free Forces soldier and a Dundee girl, Elizabeth went to school in Dundee before studying at St Andrews University for a degree in geography and social anthropology. She has worked as curator of the North American, Arctic and Oceanic collections on Merseyside; with the Museums and Galleries Commission, London; on a research project on ethnographic collections in Scotland; and as museums officer, Edinburgh for the Scottish Museums Council.

She is currently undergoing her month-long induction and will spend two days at Sellafield this week. “It’s early days for me, but the feedback I am getting is that everyone wants The Beacon to be a success. It is not Sellafield ‘buying’ the museum it is Sellafield buying into the museum to save it for the community... and that’s brilliant .”

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