Trowbridge Museum Closed (but in a good way!)

After years of planning and fundraising, last month saw Trowbridge Museum closing it’s doors for the final time in it’s current guise. It will now reopen in 2020, bigger and better.

The staff and volunteers have lost no time in getting to grips with dismantling the displays ready for packing and moving into storage whilst the building work takes place.

Even Teazel the museum cat has been helping out, but it looks like it all got a bit too much for him*

It was all a bit much for Teazel the museum cat
It was all a bit much for Teazel the museum cat

If you want to follow the progress of the redevelopment and also keep up to date with all the activities that the museum are still running in the community, keep an eye on their facebook page

*No cats were harmed in the making of this museum

Does your museum have a History Maker?

AIM Biffa Award Logo

The third and final round of the AIM Biffa Award History Makers grant programme is now open for Expressions of Interest.

Eligible organisations can apply for grants of up to £90,000 to create new exhibitions telling the inspirational stories of their chosen history maker.

Successful projects will show how the life and work of the history maker has helped shape the world we live in today.

We are particularly keen to hear from projects based on women who made history and history makers from diverse backgrounds.

All of the details of how to apply can be found on the AIM website, where you can also see details of the successful applicants to the previous round who are just starting their projects:

Milton Keynes Museum

History Maker – Jock Campbell

National Paralympic Heritage Trust

Science Pioneering the Paralympic Games – Dr Ludwig Guttmann, Doctor, Psychologist, Engineer

National Tramway Museum

Holroyd Smith – Electrifying the Future

British Schools Museum

Joseph Lancaster’s Educational Revolution.

Catalyst Science Discovery Centre

Harry Baker and 120 years of Chlorine

I’ll be at AIM conference next week so do come and say hello if you have a project idea you’d like to talk through.

History Makers are go!

Last month I had the great pleasure of attending the opening events for two of the new exhibitions which have been funded through the AIM Biffa Award History Makers programme.

Hawkshaw and Barlow Untold exhibition at Clifton Suspension Bridge
Hawkshaw and Barlow Untold exhibition at Clifton Suspension Bridge

I’ve been project managing this programme for AIM since it started and it was so lovely to see the first exhibitions come to life. There is another due next month, and very soon we shall be announcing the latest round of successful applicants and opening Round 3 for applications. Keep an eye on the AIM website for full details if you might be interested in applying.

Digging Deeper gallery at London Transport Museum
Digging Deeper gallery at London Transport Museum

For now, huge congratulations to the teams at Clifton Suspension Bridge and London Transport Museum for their new displays telling the stories of people who shaped our world.

Job opportunity at Bridport Museum

New Year, New Opportunity….

The lovely team at Bridport Museum are looking for someone to join them for 6 months as a Records Assistant. Details are on the museum facebook page. Working alongside the staff and volunteers this new post will be helping to update catalogue records for the museum collections, including fantastic items like this Roman bull.

Roman bull at Bridport Museum
Roman bull at Bridport Museum

Brings back memories of my first museum job, doing exactly this at Bolling Hall in Bradford. Not sure I realised then that I’d be helping other museums with this sort of work over 20 years later! How time flies.

Congratulations Trowbridge Museum

Artists impression of new gallery at Trowbridge Museum
Artists impression of new gallery at Trowbridge Museum

Really great news for Trowbridge Museum this month. The Heritage Lottery Fund have awarded a Delivery Grant of just over £1.1M to make the Onwards and Upwards project a reality. This kick starts the next phase of activity, which will culminate in the new, bigger and better museum re-opening in 2020. Well done to Clare and all the team. Time to start turning all those plans into reality now………

‘A fine addition to the Jurassic Coast’s museum scene’

Roman armour on display at Bridport Museum
Roman armour on display at Bridport Museum

Not my words, but a quote from the review of the newly re-opened Bridport Museum in this month’s Museums Journal, which also says ‘Bridport Museum is a delight to visit and its varied collection has something to offer every visitor.’

Well done us!!!!!

I’ve included this picture of the Roman Armour and associated objects as it was undoubtedly the area that caused us the most challenge from a collections point of view. The Museums Journal review states that the body armour components are ‘cleverly displayed on a reconstruction of a tunic’ which is true, but doesn’t quite capture all the fun we had with:

  • Specialist object identification
  • Conservation and object cleaning
  • Bespoke mount making
  • Bespoke lighting
  • Environmental control
  • Secure but unobtrusive object mounting

Despite a few long days and sleepless nights we were all really pleased with the end result of how this case came out.

As those of you who have put displays together will know, it is all the hard work you hopefully can’t see that creates lovely exhibitions like this.

Of course, with the museum only having been open a few months, we are now discussing ideas for the the next stage of Bridport’s regeneration!

Feeling Ropey

Excuse the bad pun – and no I’m not feeling ill – but have been focussing a lot on rope over the last month. One of the main stories told in the newly fitted out Bridport Museum is that of the local rope and net industry. Do you know what a Bridport Dagger is? Visit the museum to find out. The new rope and net gallery comes complete with a lovingly restored ropewalk, which is available to see operating on certain days.

Bridport Museum ropewalk demonstration
Bridport Museum ropewalk being put through it’s paces by conservator Tim Martin at the grand re-opening

When I mentioned to Emily the curator that I was heading off to AIM conference at Chatham Historic Dockyard she suggested that I call in and see their ropewalk, which of course I dutifully did. What she didn’t mention is that it is 1/4 of a mile long! Wow. Having just worked on the Bridport redisplay lots of the objects and equipment used looked very familiar, but the scale was something else. If you get the chance, do go and see the site at Chatham. In a packed AIM conference I only got the briefest of looks around the historic dockyard, but will definetely be making a return trip.

Ropery at Chatham Historic Dockyard
Ropery at Chatham Historic Dockyard – You’ll have to visit to get the wow factor of going inside

In the meantime, three cheers for rope and rope making, the latest nugget of fascinating info I have learnt working in museums and heritage.

Momentous May

Phew – what a month May has been. Three of the projects I am currently working on hit significant milestones:

Trowbridge Museum submitted their Round 2 application to the HLF. Fingers crossed that all the hard work pays off and they get good news in September and are able to push ahead with the ‘Onwards and Upwards’ plans to expand and redevelop the museum.

Aim Biffa Award have announced the first round of projects to be supported by the History Makers – people who shaped our world programme. Congratulations to Clifton Suspension Bridge, London Transport Museum and The National Justice Museum. Really looking forward to seeing the exhibitions take shape. Round 2 will be opening for applications later in the summer.

Jurassic Coast displays at Bridport Museum
Jurassic Coast displays at Bridport Museum

Bridport Museum reopened to the public on Sat 27th May. After years of fundraising, planning, hard graft and lots of tea and biscuits the new museum is open and looks amazing. The whole project was a real team effort, with everybody giving 110%. For the last 4 weeks I have been working with staff, volunteers, the Wiltshire Conservation Service, Beaufort Bespoke and Bridport Town Council to get the collections back on display – thank you one and all for your help and support.

All great projects to work on and I am delighted to be continuing to support all three going forward.