‘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.

Bridport Museum re-opening

It’s full steam ahead from now until the end of the month, getting everything ready for the grand re-opening at Bridport Museum. The site is buzzing with all the contractors, volunteers and staff installing graphics, objects, inter-actives and a hundred and one other things. The museum is barely recognisable from it’s previous incarnation and is really starting to look fantastic.

Designs for new rope and net gallery at Bridport Museum
Designs for new rope and net gallery at Bridport Museum

Lot’s still to do though, so I should stop typing this and get back to it! See you on the other side….

Malmesbury Coin Hoard website

Malmesbury coin hoard website


A quick plug for the volunteers over at Athelstan Museum Malmesbury, who have launched a smart new website for their HLF funded Malmesbury coin hoard project.

The team are currently working on the 1000+ Roman coins to prepare them for conservation and display. The website will give updates on the progress of the project, leading up to the grand unveiling of the hoard on display in the museum in 2018.

Well done to Maria and her colleagues.

Have you seen this chicken?

This little fella came to light in the stores at Bridport Museum recently whilst we have been choosing objects to go back on display in the refurbished museum. You’ll have to visit the museum when it reopens later in the year to find out if he makes the final selection. I do wonder if the museum collections will be safe with him around, as he bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Feathers McGraw of Wallace & Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers fame!

Bridport Penguin
Bridport Penguin

On a more serious note, as Bridport Museum gear up for their grand re-opening later in the year there is an opportunity to join the team as an Operations Manager*. Details of the job can be found on the SWFed website at https://www.swfed.org.uk/jobs/job-operations-manager-bridport-museum/

  • Penguins need not apply

Looking forward to 2017

Having had a chance to recharge the batteries over Christmas thoughts are now turning to what awaits in 2017. As always, lots going on and lots to look forward to. In particular, I’m excited to be working on:

The reopening of Bridport Museum later in the Spring

The announcement and start of the first round of AIM Biffa Award History Makers projects

Completion of the development phase of Trowbridge Museum ‘Onwards and Upwards’ and submission of the Round 2 application to HLF.

Museums I mentor are also planning busy years, with both Athelstan Museum and Pewsey Heritage Centre developing new buildings

Whatever you are working on, I wish you every success for 2017.


Weighing fossils

Selecting fossils for redisplay at Bridport Museum
Selecting fossils for redisplay at Bridport Museum

One of the best things about working with museums is that no two days are ever the same. Last week I was down at Bridport Museum with Emily and Beth doing some preparation work for the new galleries. On a rather chilly day we were assessing potential fossils to go on display in the updated Jurassic Coast displays – which includes weighing each one to make sure the case they are going into is strong enough. It’s always a real treat to get the chance to work directly with fantastic objects like this fossil collection. It’s going to be  a really impressive display.

Pelham Puppets and Ken White

A great time was had by all at The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre Open Day last month. I particularly enjoyed seeing some of the acquisitions that have been made through the Creative Wiltshire project. Lovely art work by Ken White of Swindon, including the XTC Black Sea LP cover. Also, loads of Pelham Puppets on display, courtesy of collector Peter Beavan, who is keen to see a permanent exhibition in the county dedicated to the company.

Pelham Puppets display
Pelham Puppets display

Being something of a fan of the Marlborough made puppets myself it was great to meet Peter and see his collection being enjoyed by visitors. The History Centre have acquired some puppets of their own as part of Creative Wiltshire, to compliment the company archive which they already hold.

Well done History Centre team!

A busy September at Bridport Museum

The last few weeks seem to have flown by, as we said goodbye to summer whilst putting Bridport Museum into hibernation. Working with the great volunteers and staff and my friends from Wiltshire CMAS every single object (including the 2 plesiosaur – fossil and lego!) has been safely packed, recorded and put into temporary storage, to allow the next stage of the £1.3M redevelopment to take place. You can keep up to date with progress over on the museum facebook page – the only views we will get of the inside of the museum for a while as it was handed over to the builders on Monday. Next phase for us is a series of training sessions for the volunteers to help them get the objects prepared to go back on display next year.