Category Archives: museum news

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

BARNSTAPLE MUSEUM POPPING UP OVER THE ROAD

A temporary museum will be popping up in Barnstaple, as part of the museum’s £1.8m Long Bridge Wing extension project.

As the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon prepares to close its doors to allow work to begin on the extension, space has been secured across the road in Bridge Chambers to provide a ‘Pop-Up’ venue for museum events and activities for the coming year.

North Devon Council and the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum Development Trust (MDT) have been working together to deliver the project, which will provide the opportunity for more displays and exhibitions, including a new twentieth- and twenty-first-century social history gallery.

Throughout 2018, the museum will be working with the local community to help deliver this exciting project and the temporary museum at Bridge Chambers will be used to sort through some of the items needed to create content for the new gallery.

The temporary museum opens its doors on Wednesday 14 February and staff are calling for local experts who have knowledge of North Devon’s history to help identify objects and share their story under five themes ‘Hatched, Matched, Dispatched’, ‘World of Work’, ‘Town and Country’, ‘Highdays and Holidays’ and ‘House and Home’. The first theme is ‘Hatched, Matched and Dispatched’ and the museum will bring previously unseen items from its store, which are connected to birth, childhood, schooldays, weddings and funerals.

Sadie Green, Activity Plan Co-ordinator at the museum, says: “ As the pop-up museum opens on Valentine’s Day, we’d love to see some wedding day photographs, so if you got married in North Devon between the 1940s and the 1990s and have a favourite photograph of your wedding day to share with us, please bring it along to the launch and share the love with us! We have an interesting and varied collection of objects – we have a pram, the Bishops Nympton parish bier, Youings stonemasonry tools and trolley and baby gloves from Pilton glove factory. We also have toys, school textbooks, badges and uniforms, Cub Scout and Brownie uniforms and a christening gown.”

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “Show your love for history and visit the new ‘pop-up’ museum on Valentine’s Day. The museum would like to know more about the objects in its collection and we hope that visitors get involved to share their memories and stories. The main museum building will shortly be closing to allow work to begin on the new extension, but this doesn’t mean we won’t be providing a museum service – the pop-up will be open and the museum’s annual programme of events and activities for children will still continue during school holidays.”

The museum is also recruiting Collections Care volunteers to help move objects from storage to be cleaned, catalogued and documented and to gather stories from visitors. Visit the museum on the Square in Barnstaple to pick up an application form, or email museum@northdevon.gov.uk.

SOMERSET RURAL LIFE MUSEUM ANNOUNCES AUTUMN PROGRAMME

Following a £2.4 million redevelopment, Somerset Rural Life Museum re-opened earlier this year with a fresh new look and a line-up of wonderful events offering real-life experiences inspired by rural traditions.

The autumn programme has been announced and includes seasonal celebrations, workshops, courses, talks and exhibitions. The programme offers visitors a chance to discover more about Somerset’s heritage including its landscape, food and farming and rural crafts.

Visitor Services Manager Robin Savill said: “In addition to being a much-loved museum we are now offering new hands-on heritage experiences. The former farm, with its orchard and farm yard, offers a unique and historic venue in which to learn more about the county’s heritage. Alongside our special autumn events we also have regular family fun days and Toddler Explorer sessions.”

Autumn has always been an important time for rural communities and An Autumn Celebration carries on the tradition of celebrating harvest time. On 7 and 8 October the Museum grounds will be filled with all things autumnal, from apple pressing and giant pumpkins to rural crafts and folklore.

The Museum will hold its Living History Day on 5 November when the former dairy farm will be alive with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of ancient skills and crafts. From woodworking and weaving to cookery and corn dollies, a visit will be like stepping into the past.

From 23 September to 11 November the wonderful foureteenth-century Abbey Barn will host an installation produced in partnership with Somerset Art Works and Craftspace. Gather-ing is a contemporary art exhibition exploring the use of ancient barns to gather and collect people, animals and crops.

Kate Lynch’s stunning FARM exhibition also continues until 3 December, featuring more than 40 paintings and drawings made on local farms. To complement the exhibition, Kate will be at the Museum on 28 September to give a talk about her documentary art projects.

On 25 October painter James Lynch is giving a talk and demonstration in using the ancient medium of egg tempera. James has spent many years mastering this technique and his much-admired landscape painting at the Museum is a stunning example of this work.

Blighty Bushcraft will be at the museum on 24 September to lead a Foraging Course around the Glastonbury countryside. The morning expedition will explore the local hedgerows to discover what nature’s larder has to offer. Blighty Bushcraft returns on 22 October for a ‘Slab and Stick’ Stool-Making Course.

Normal admission applies to seasonal days and exhibitions with charges and booking required for workshops, courses and talks. For full details please visit SRLM.org.uk

Somerset Rural Life Museum is part of The South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity that protects and celebrates our rich heritage.

NEW EXHIBITION SPACE FOR MINEHEAD MUSEUM

Minehead Museum celebrated the official opening of its new exhibition space on 31 July 2017.  Provision of a greater display area has enabled museum to incorporate further material including a second Hobby Horse head, a scale model of the Regal Theatre in the 1950s and further shipping models which have been added to this year’s ‘Maritime Minehead’ display. Also on display for the first time are a seventeenth-century clock on loan from the Town Council and the uniform of the former Town Crier. Display frames on subjects as diverse as the painter Turner, the Beatles and writer Arthur C. Clarke are also on show.

Curator and trustee, Julian Luke, welcomed guests and outlined the development of the museum from a pop-up display for two weeks in 2013 to its opening in part of the Beach Hotel in March 2014. Julian paid tribute to the strong support the project has received from the YMCA-owned Beach Hotel and noted that the opportunity to expand was further evidence of the value of this partnership. He also thanked the Tourist Information Centre for agreeing to relocate part of their display area to enable the expansion.

The museum has attracted over 17,000 visitors since it opened. The new display space will increase the visibility of the museum and widen the range of material on show. Important for the display of an interpretation of local history and customs, the museum also provides an all-weather attraction for tourists and locals alike. A successful museum is helping with the regeneration of the seafront.

PHOTO: The photograph shows Chairman of the Trustees, Joe Passmore, cutting the ribbon to open the new room. Other trustees Alan Smithers and Caroline Giddens were on hand to answer questions as over 50 guests viewed the exhibits. The museum, a registered charity, is staffed and managed entirely by volunteers and is always looking for more helpers in all aspects of running the museum. Janet Styles, the museum’s volunteer co-ordinator, would welcome offers of help as the museum looks forward to a busy summer and a further refit in the coming winter ahead of next year’s featured display, ‘Minehead on the Move’.

Anyone interested can email mineheadmuseum@btconnect.com or call Janet on 01643 822907.

The museum opening times:
Until 31 October: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm,  Sundays 11am – 4pm. Closed Mondays apart from Bank Holidays, when the museum is open 10am–4 pm. It is closed in the winter.

The Museum is located opposite the West Somerset Railway Station, Minehead in the Beach Hotel Complex.  Entry is FREE.

BARNSTAPLE MUSEUM PLANNING APPLICATION FOR NEW EXTENSION APPROVED

The planning application for a new extension at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon has been approved by North Devon Council.

The council’s planning committee approved the application for the new design on Wednesday 8 March. Following public consultation earlier this year, the original design was revised so that the new extension and existing building complement each other better.

The extension will provide a bigger and brighter entrance to welcome visitors, as well as increasing the floor space, offering the opportunity for more displays and exhibitions, including a new twentieth-century social history gallery. With a new education room, improvements to the shop and tea room and increased storage space, it will help the museum be more sustainable going into the future.

Executive member, Councillor Brian Moores, said: “We are very happy that the new design has been approved by the planning committee. It is a very exciting time for the museum as the new extension will bring big improvements to the facilities on offer. We hope that the displays and exhibitions, which will be part of the new extension, will attract even more visitors, both from the local area and tourists. Alison Mills, our museum manager, is doing a great job on our behalf to drive this project forward. To find out more, come down to the museum and speak to Alison or any of her staff and volunteers.”

Local ward member for Barnstaple central, Councillor Adam Bradford, said: “I am extremely excited about this important development which will bring more space in the museum for education and encourage our young people to a take greater interest in history. The plans are innovative and my thanks to Alison and her team for their continuing hard work. This is a great project for us to get behind, whether as individuals or businesses.”

Copies of all the approved drawings and plans are online at www.northdevon.gov.uk under planning application number 62191.