Fife libraries and museums ‘vital for people's wellbeing’ says new cultural boss

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OnFife has appointed a new head of cultural heritage following the retiral of the long-serving Dallas Mechan.

Christine McLean has pledged to build on the success of initiatives developed to support local communities during lockdown.

As the new head of cultural heritage and wellbeing, she said the pandemic has underlined the vital role libraries, museums and archives can play in helping to improve people’s wellbeing.

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Christine, who stays in Linlithgow, joined the region’s cultural trust after previously serving as heritage manager at Renfrewshire Lesiure

Christine McLean, head of cultural heritage and wellbeing, at OnFifeChristine McLean, head of cultural heritage and wellbeing, at OnFife
Christine McLean, head of cultural heritage and wellbeing, at OnFife

She said Covid restrictions have enabled the organisation to connect with audiences in new and imaginative ways which are as much about showing people you care as they are about culture.

Initiatives during lockdown included libraries staff regularly phoning older customers to check they were okay, while OnFife also hosted three artists’ residencies to reach out to groups who faced barriers to accessing key resources.

Christine said: ““As we move out of lockdown, it’s an opportunity to grow our activities in the realm of community wellbeing.

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“The cultural sector is changing. We are working more efficiently, partly because of the pandemic, and using technology that is enabling us to collaborate with more people in creative ways.”She added: “The sector is engaging with a range of contemporary issues such as tackling poverty, racism and discrimination and a concern for people’s health and wellbeing is a key part of that.”

Christine gained a Masters in heritage management at the University of Birmingham followed by a degree at the University of Glasgow, which included history of art and archaeology.

At the National Museums Scotland, she led on community engagement and outreach, having previously performed the same role with Glasgow’s Open Museum.

She added: “Ultimately, I'm interested in the stories objects can tell about people and places, and how museums and galleries affect us in different ways – as places to relax, reflect and heal.”

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“I feel lucky to be working with OnFife. Our galleries, archives and museums are dynamic places run by friendly, knowledgeable staff who are keen to entice people to come and explore and be inspired.”

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