Category Archives: museum news

MUSEUM OF BARNSTAPLE AND NORTH DEVON LAUNCHES DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

Are you a budding amateur photographer, seasoned professional or passionate local photography group?

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is excited to announce the launch of a brand-new ‘Documentary Photography Open’ to be held annually between February and April.

The theme for this year is The High Street, focusing on the transformation of North Devon’s local shop fronts and businesses and how they have evolved, particularly in recent times of austerity. Photographers can include proprietors, but the primary focus is to be on documenting the shop and its architecture.

The exhibition is free to enter and will provide a platform for anyone from amateur through to established contemporary photographer looking to improve their exposure, enhance their practice and help document North Devon.

The successful applicants will feature in the exhibition, held in the community gallery, showcasing contemporary photography from across North Devon. Selected exhibition images will gain further exposure online as part of the museum’s digital marketing through their website, social media and mailing lists.

Museum Curator, Alison Mills, says, “With over 55,000 people visiting the museum every year, our aim is to offer a platform to showcase the work of talented local photographers.  We also want to help promote and inspire future documentary photography. The idea is that each year the competition will see a different theme drawing on the museum’s inspirational photography collections that include R.L. Knight and James Ravilious.”

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “This new photography competition is another fantastic idea by the team at the museum, not only as a way of bringing the talent of local photographers to the attention of all the museum visitors, but also as a way of documenting North Devon as it is now and preserving the images for future generations.”

During the exhibition’s duration a public vote will be held within the community gallery and the image with the most votes by the closing date of the exhibition will be awarded with a winner’s certificate, and a £200 voucher from event sponsors J&A Cameras, to help further the photographer’s practice.  One standout piece from the exhibition will be selected by the museum team to enter into the museum’s digital archive, continuing to help to document North Devon and its people.

Applications can be picked up from the museum reception, or to download a form and a copy of the submission guidelines and terms and conditions, visit the museum’s website.

TOP: Appledore News photographed by James Ravilious © Beaford Arts.

INAUGURAL EXHIBITION AT MUSEUM OF BARNSTAPLE AND NORTH DEVON’S NEW WING

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon has opened the inaugural exhibition of its new wing.

The exhibition, named ‘Imitation of Nature’ is being held in the main gallery and showcases the paintings of F.R. Lee, the most successful artist to ever come from Barnstaple. Born in 1798, he graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts, later becoming elected member in 1838. He is a contemporary of John Constable and collaborated with Sir Edwin Landseer and Thomas Sydney Cooper.

Musuem curator, Alison Mills, says: “The new wing has been installed with the latest technology to atmospherically control the gallery at exactly the right temperature, humidity, lighting, etc. This new system means we are now able to have objects on loan from other galleries for the first time, which is very exciting for us.

“For this exhibition we have worked hard to bring together over 30 of Lee’s paintings both from private lenders and museums including Tate Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, South West Heritage Trust, The Amelia at the Amelia Scott and North Devon Athenaeum, alongside our own collection.”

There are two events planned in conjunction with the exhibition:

  • 5 December, 5.30-6.30pm: “F.R. Lee: His Place in History” – a free talk given by Professor Sam Smiles and Professor Peter Howard
  • 21 November, 10am-3pm: Landscape drawing workshop for adults led by artist James Young, costing £15 (materials included)

Spaces for both the talk and workshop are limited, so please contact the museum on 01271 346747 to book your place.

The exhibition runs until 18 January 2020.

Top: ‘View from the River’.

MUSEUM OF BARNSTAPLE: NEW SHOP

The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is looking for manufacturers, designers, artists and skilled craftspeople to supply products for sale in their brand-new museum shop.

They want to stock a range of items, featuring commercial products made locally in the South West, and would be particularly interested in items that reference their collections of silver, natural history, pottery and woodworking.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “With the new extension nearing completion, exciting times are ahead for the museum.  The new shop will be a fantastic outlet for commercial products that are designed and manufactured around the region.”

Alison Mills, Manager of The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, says: “We are all very excited about the new extension which will give us a much larger shop than we had previously. This will give us an amazing opportunity to showcase a range of beautiful products for sale, made right here in the South West.”

The museum is currently closed while work continues on the exciting new Long Bridge Wing extension, and is due to reopen this autumn with a brand-new social history gallery, larger shop, café and improved education space.

If you think you have a product that would appeal to the museum’s varied audience of local visitors and tourists, then please get in touch by emailing: trudy.weston@northdevon.gov.uk.

MINEHEAD MUSEUM’S FIFTH BIRTHDAY

Minehead Museum celebrates its fifth birthday today and, as it enters its sixth season, can now claim to be well established.  With nearly 10,000 visitors in 2018 (plus one parrot), the museum can rightly say it is a popular destination for both tourists and residents. During the past five years, not only have the number of visitors grown steadily year by year, but so, too, has the collection.

This year the museum will have more items on display than ever before but it is always pleased to be offered additional artefacts and documents relating to the history of the town. If you think you may have something of interest, please do let them know.

Without the support of a loyal base of volunteer stewards, the museum would not be able to remain open six days a week from late March to early November. If you, or anyone you know, should happen to have a spare morning or afternoon that you could offer to the museum, they would be delighted to hear from you. Stewards are the face of the museum and if you are interested in research and local history, it could be a rewarding way to spend some time.

Find out more on the website: www.mineheadmuseum.co.uk

PHOTO: Minehead Museum’s Punch & Judy puppets:
A well-known attraction at seaside towns, Mr Punch made his first documented appearance in England on 9 May 1662.

The puppets now on show in Minehead Museum belonged to Roy Van Dyke, magician, comedian and Punch & Judy performer. Born Roy Hobbs, in Alcombe Road, Minehead, he learnt his early skills from Cecil Govitt, a conjuror lodger in the family.

Roy was a Gold Member of the Magic Circle and a regular performer in the Gaiety Theatre, which he also managed for a number of years.

His Punch & Judy puppets are Minehead Museum’s latest acquisition, having been donated by the Hobbs family this year. They can be seen in the Museum, which opens for the season on 23 March, and which is located at the Beach Hotel.

 

FUNDING BOOST FOR COAST EXPLORERS EXHIBITION

There’s something fishy going on at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

The popular undersea world at the museum is being redeveloped and will make a welcome return to the museum when it reopens, thanks to a funding boost from the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The museum has been awarded a £4,000 grant from the AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund, which is funded by DEFRA, to help people understand the fantastic wildlife along the coast. The funding will be used to transform the undersea display into a more interactive exhibition, making use of the museum’s  precious specimens and introducing digital elements to engage visitors.

North Devon Council’s Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Brian Moores, says: “The old undersea room was a big hit with young visitors and the museum team wanted to keep its immersive feel, but make it more interactive and up to date. Following consultation with Coastwise, a local volunteer group which both monitors and educates people about our coastal environment, the new Coast Explorers idea was born. The new exhibition will include portholes into the undersea section to enable good views of existing specimens, as if you are in a submarine. It will include many more interactive opportunities to learn about our coastal creatures.”

Coast Explorers will include a section about the important coastal environment of Braunton Burrows and also provide an introduction to North Devon’s internationally designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  The new gallery will encourage people to explore, learn about and care for our important natural and historic assets, including discussion of topical issues such as plastics in our seas.

AONB Manager, Jenny Carey-Wood, says: “We are delighted to support this new exhibition at the museum covering the wildlife, sea creatures and birds found along the outstanding coast of North Devon. The display will help children and adults to make the connection between what they do and the nature all around them, so they can enjoy its beauty and look after it for future generations.”

Follow the progress of the museum’s new extension project, including behind the scenes photos and information about the new displays at www.barnstaplemuseumblog.wordpress.com.

Top: Design for the new Coast Explorers exhibit.

 

HISTORIC LANDKEY PARISH TABLE FINDS NEW HOME IN BARNSTAPLE MUSEUM

A rare 400-year-old trestle table has been saved from auction and will be rehomed in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

The museum was recently successful in a bid for almost £10,000 from the Museums Association Beecroft Bequest to keep the Landkey Parish Table in North Devon. The item will be put on display in the museum library, which is being converted into a public research area as part of its extension project.

The Landkey Parish Table is believed to have been assembled inside the Landkey parish house, which is where it stayed for over 400 years. This rare piece is one of only two parish room tables from the sixteenth or seventeenth century known in Devon and is an exceptional example of the workmanship of West Country craftsmen. The impressive table measures almost 17 feet long and is made from a single plank of oak, with fixed benches on either side. One trestle-end is carved with the date 1655 and flanked by the churchwardens’ initials WL and TG (William Lavercombe and Thomas Gould were churchwardens in 1655).

The museum’s bid for funding was supported by the Regional Furniture Society, the Devonshire Association and local historians, who were all keen for the table to remain in the district following the Landkey United Charities decision to convert the under-used parish rooms to a dwelling.

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Brian Moores, says: “This is a unique and very significant piece of Devon furniture and I’m very pleased our museum team was able to raise the funds to keep it in North Devon. It will fit well in the museum library, where it can continue to be used and appreciated by local visitors to the museum.”

Michael Gee, Secretary of Landkey United Charities, says: “All are agreed that the under-used Parish Rooms will make an attractive dwelling, and it is good that the table has found an accessible local home.”

Dr Todd Gray, author of Devon’s Ancient Bench Ends, says: “The table was secured for the people of North Devon by the museum manager, Alison Mills, who has worked tirelessly to ensure it stays where it belongs – in North Devon.  The region has some of the most interesting early wooden carving in England and I hope all those who love North Devon appreciate that Ms Mills harnessed the expertise of specialists around the country in supporting this bid. This really has been a great coup for the people of North Devon!”

Roderick Butler, FSA Furniture Historian, says: “So little sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century secular furniture with an undoubted Devon provenance has survived that the acquisition of this table for the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, so close to its original home, is nothing short of miraculous.”

Follow the progress of the museum’s new extension project, including behind-the-scenes photos and information about the new displays at www.barnstaplemuseumblog.wordpress.com.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Bonhams 1973 Ltd

DOVERY MANOR MUSEUM FIRST WORLD WAR PROJECT

Are you or your family from the Vale of Porlock and did you have family member who fought in the First World War? Perhaps you had a grandfather or a great uncle who served in the ranks? Or a great aunt who volunteered to work as a nurse treating the long-term wounded in Minehead Hospital?

Dovery Manor Museum in Porlock is marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War with a series of newly researched publications by Jeff Cox.

Already on display at the museum is a comprehensive register recording the name, rank, regiment and often the home addresses, of over 350 men and women from Porlock, Luccombe, Selworthy, Culbone, Oare and Stoke Pero who served. It’s the first time such detailed research has been attempted, honouring the sacrifices made by so many from the district.

The second volume is a Roll of Honour, which pays tribute to all those men from Porlock and the Vale who died in the First World War. It tells in some detail the story of each man whose name is carved on one of the three parish war memorials at Porlock, Luccombe and Selworthy.

Is your relative listed in the register? Or might details in the register help fill gaps in your family history?

The museum now wants to hear from anyone who has stories or photos of their family members from the three parishes who served in the conflict, for inclusion in a third publication which will tell the very human stories of sacrifice, service and dedication.

The volumes are the result of extensive new research, timed to culminate this November – the centenary of the end of the First World War. But they do not claim to be the final story. There may well be errors or omissions. And that is where you can help. Do visit the museum and look at these volumes; and please tell them if you have information that can improve this tribute to the men and women from Porlock and the Vale.

The museum has recently been successful in acquiring a grant from One Stop Carriers For Causes which will make possible the publication of all three volumes and the creation of a a permanent First World War memorial display at the museum.

Please contact anyone at the museum (which is open daily from 10am-5pm, except Sundays) or Jeff Cox on 01643 863083, or by emailing jeff.cox@talk21.com

PHOTO: Unveiling of the war memorial, July 1921.

WANTED: 100 PEOPLE, 100 STORIES

To celebrate the new Long Bridge Extension and complement the museum’s current project ‘North Devon in 100 objects’, the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is setting a challenge to find 100 local people to contribute their stories of life in North Devon to be preserved in 100 one-minute documentary films.

The extension, which is currently being built, will house a new social history gallery.  An exciting feature of the gallery will be the installation of a campervan cinema.  This micro cinema will be created from a vintage VW campervan and will house an interactive screen and comfortable seating where visitors can select and view short films mirroring the themes of the social history gallery.

The 100 mini documentaries will be created by staff and volunteers at the Museum but first they need… YOU!

Amanda McCormack from North Devon Moving Image, the project partner, says “People often think that their stories are insignificant.  They think they would not be interesting to others, but think of all the stories you might have heard your grandparents and parents tell you about their earlier lives.  Those gems of stories could be lost in the passage of time but these short snapshot films will create a valuable and entertaining archive.”

North Devon Council’s Executive member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says:  “Creating a social history of North Devon and its residents is a wonderful way to preserve memories.  This project is similar to a visual time capsule which can be enjoyed for many years to come.  Please do get in touch with the museum if you would like to share your stories and pass them down to future generations to help them understand what living in North Devon was like in the earl-twenty-first century.”

What the Museum is looking for are anecdotes about life in North Devon and because these will be told on film they need a visual element to the story.  So, do you know a local ‘character’ who might like to be interviewed, who represents life in North Devon?  Do you have memories you would like to share or stories passed down through generations?  Have you kept your old school reports and maybe your school uniform?  Do you have a collection of artefacts you can show to the camera and talk about – maybe locally made toys, clothing, machinery or household objects?

If you or someone you know would be ideal for the 100 mini documentaries please get in touch with the museum team on 01271 346747 or email museum@northdevon.gov.uk.

PHOTO: Daisy Tucker of Combrew Farm, Bickington, delivering milk in Draceana Avenue, Sticklepath, to Mrs Teape and her daughter Sandra in 1946. This image was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Exmoor Magazine, in an article about memories of milk rounds in and around Barnstaple, written by Avril Stone.

MUSEUM’S BIG BUILD HAS FINALLY BEGUN!

The big day has finally arrived and the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is beginning its transformation.

Devon Contractors start work today – Monday 25 June – on the museum’s eagerly anticipated £2m Long Bridge Wing extension, which will increase the building’s footprint by 70%, making space for a new social history gallery, larger shop, café and improved education space. The project, supported by nearly £870,000 of National Lottery funding, is expected to take 12 months to complete, with the museum reopening fully in summer 2019.

The current museum was provided to the town by William Frederick Rock in 1888 as the home of the North Devon Athenaeum. Originally there was another building between it and the Long Bridge, but this was demolished in 1963 when the bridge was widened. The extension will be built on the site of the old building using brick and slate as the main building materials, in keeping with the existing museum building. Terracotta details, reflecting the work of Brannams and copper (which was used extensively by Shapland and Petter in their furniture) will be blended to create interest and soften the impact of the brick.

North Devon Council’s Executive member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “This project has been three years in the making, so it will be really exciting to see the scaffolding go up and the builders on site. The museum has remained unchanged for many years, so this is a momentous occasion in the history of this iconic building. The improvements we are making will give the museum the space it needs and deserves to showcase the history of North Devon to the many visitors we welcome through its doors each year.”

Museum Manager, Alison Mills, says: “We’ve already started work behind the scenes, moving collections into storage and clearing parts of the museum that will be affected by the building work. This has revealed features that haven’t been seen in years and hidden treasures we didn’t know were there, including a locked safe behind the underwater world display – we’re still looking for a key that fits! We are all really excited to be part of the museum’s transformation and can’t wait for the building work to get started!”

A temporary front of house is available at the ‘Pop-up museum’, across the road in Bridge Chambers, which is also the base for collecting stories and objects for the new Social History Gallery, so pop in and see how you can get involved.

For behind-the-scenes updates and progress of the build, follow the Museum Manager’s blog at barnstaplemuseumblog.wordpress.com. You can still contact the museum on 01271 346747, museum@northdevon.gov.uk or get in touch on the museum Facebook page.

The Long Bridge Wing Extension project is funded by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Coastal Communities Fund and North Devon Council, with additional contributions from the Arts Council Ready to Borrow scheme, Devon County Council and the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum Development Trust (MBND), which has secured significant contributions from the Garfield Weston Foundation, Fullabrook Windfarm CIC, Foyle Foundation and a host of local businesses, charitable trusts and individuals.  A full list of the MBND funders is available on their website mbndtrust.org.

PHOTO: Museum manager Alison Mills and Cllr Dick Jones with the chosen bricks for the museum extension.

TIVERTON MUSEUM ACQUIRES RARE POW NEWSPAPER

Staff at Tiverton Museum were intrigued to see a newspaper from Tiverton’s Prisoner of War camp come up for auction recently. The camp was located close to the site that Petroc and the High School occupy today. The weekly newspaper ‘Die Eule’ – or ‘The Owl’ – dates from September 1946 and features stories and articles, puzzles, jokes and reports of a football match between Tiverton and Silverton. Most of the paper is in German apart from a section about learning English. There was another camp near Cruwys Morchard which housed Italian prisoners of war. With a donation from a supporter, the museum was able to purchase the newspaper.

Pippa Griffith, Director of Tiverton Museum, says, “We are absolutely delighted to have acquired this very rare item; we didn’t even know that the camp had produced a newspaper. We hold very little in the museum about the camp, just a couple of photographs so this is an important acquisition for this part of Tiverton’s history. We would love to hear from anyone who has photographs of the camp or of any people who stayed there, or even more copies of this newspaper!

“We know that prisoners of war were driven out to local farms to help out, especially at busy times such as potato harvesting. We would also love to hear from anyone who knows about prisoners of war who stayed on and made Mid Devon their home, perhaps marrying a local woman.”

PHOTO: The Salvation Army band playing to prisoners of war. There are more photos on our Instagram feed: @exmoormagazine