GREETINGS were sent from one Dorchester to another as Dorset County Museum announced plans to build relations between the Dorset town and its distant American relations.
Dorset County Museum’s fundraising team have officially announced new plans for a fundraising party to celebrate the shared history between both Dorchester towns, and arrangements are ongoing with the hope their US counterparts can hold a party on the same day too.
David Taylor, fundraising team leader at the museum, said: “We want to make more of the fact that Dorchester in Dorset played a big part in the foundation of America, as a founding community. Our town has a lot of important history in this era that is relatively unpublicised.”
Thousands of people left Dorchester in Dorset for the New World, and the Massachusetts town they founded with the same name later held the first town meeting in America, paving the way for famous constitutional artefacts such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
The historic association between the two towns is what the museum wants to strengthen as part of the proposed Collections Discovery Centre.
The £13.3m project, announced in July, plans to expand the museum and give the public greater access to its vast collection of over four million artefacts, of which only 1.5% is currently able to be displayed.
Their collection includes extensive material on Dorset rector John White, and the history of residents of Dorchester in Dorset who became early settlers in America.
Mr Taylor said: “We have gained written support from two historic societies in Boston for the Museum’s future development fundraising appeal, from the Partnership of the Historic Bostons and the Dorchester Historical Society. They are currently in conversations with us about how to celebrate this history on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Dr Jon Murden, director of the museum, explained the centre could also have a big impact on tourism and the local economy in Dorchester.
He said: “When we had the Pharaoh: King of Egypt exhibition in 2011, research showed the number of people visiting Dorchester in a three month period brought in an extra £160,000 to the town. We hope to achieve the same, if not more, with the Centre over an extended period.”
Dr Peter Down, chariman of the trustees of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, said: "We are very excited to have re-formed our link with Dorchester, Massachussetts. I am sure that the people from both Dorchesters will benefit greatly from this venture and we in Dorset look forward to several joint projects starting with the gala evening in November."
The fundraising event will be held on November 14 at Dorset County Museum and tickets will cost £25 per head.
The evening includes live music from band Mama Blues, a multicultural buffet, and more.