AN OPEN-AIR museum has launched an appeal for artefacts from the 1950s and 1980s as part of a new phase of development.

The event at Beamish Museum, near Stanley, today (Thursday, February 14) was marked by the recreation of 1970s photograph of founding director Frank Atkinson with a host of 19th century objects.

Beamish’s present director Richard Evans was surrounded by a collection of newly-collected artefacts from the 1950s.

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The museum was conceived in the 1960s when Mr Atkinson began a policy of collecting all items offered – not matter how big or complicated.

To support the future development of the museum, The Great Donate begins on Saturday, February 16 with Beamish once again asking people of the region to share their history.

Throughout half-term week a Donation Station is opening in the Beamish Regional Resource Centre, so that people can bring their smaller 20th century treasures - especially those from the 1950s and 1980s - and pass them on to the museum.

Mr Evans said: “We want to continue to develop Beamish. What we are all about is telling the story about everyday life in the North-East.

“Rather than telling people what objects we want – we obviously do have a wish list – we want local people to tell us what we need for us to tell their story.”

Mr Evans said the museum hoped to develop a 1950s town over the next decade.

He added: “What we need everything from buildings and cars to bicycles and toys – everything you could expect to see in a real town.

“We are not moving away from important stories we are telling at the moment, but we want to tell some more stories within a 1950s town.”

The museum plans to erect 30 buildings in the middle of the site, including a number of homes - and is looking for entire kitchens and the contents of more than a dozen bedrooms, among other.

Mr Evans said: “Imagine if you were here in 40 years. We’ll be talking about hour 1980s era. In order to tell that story in the future we need those objects now.”

Larger objects are welcome too and curatorial staff collect any objects, including vehicles or even buildings.

Half-term admission is: £8.75 (adults), £6.50 (conc) £5 (children 5 – 16).

For more information contact the museum on 0191-370-4000.