For the last 10 years, there has been a large willow and paper elephant suspended in the museum entrance hall. The Barnstaple Elephant, discovered in a clay pit in Summerland Street in 1844, has become an important part of the museum's identity. The carnival version has provided a friendly welcome to the museum to thousands … Continue reading Week 30: The Elephant in the Room
Our museum holds many thousands of objects, but only a small proportion can be displayed. Space is always short, and even those things which are "out" can easily be missed by visitors. We cannot explain all the details of each item's story in the small number of words available on a label or graphics panel. … Continue reading Week 26: Every object tells a story
It's been a slightly odd Christmas, with no museum to close up for the holidays. Ever since 2007, when the Square was redesigned, the town Christmas Tree and the Christmas Lights have been a focus for celebration. Next year we will be joining in making Christmas a great event, with the Christmas Lights switch on … Continue reading Week 25: Christmas at the Museum
As the centenary commemorations for the First World War draw to a close, I thought it would be interesting to look at an ordinary Barnstaple man whose records we have here in the museum. Bertie Burrington wasn't a hero, and he wasn't one of the thousands who gave their lives in the Great War, but … Continue reading Week 23: Bertie Burrington
Now that the building is taking shape, I thought it would be interesting to remind you all of the history of our site. When we were applying for planning permission for the extension, we had to discuss the options with Historic England and our Conservation Officer, because we were not only affecting a Grade II … Continue reading Week 18: Looking back to 1963
Last week, on the same day that work started on the steel for our new extension, I attended North Devon Archaeological Society's latest talk. The subject was "Iron Age Devon and its Hillforts". The Speaker was Henrietta Quinnell, Honorary Fellow of the University of Exeter and acknowledged doyenne of all things prehistoric in the South West … Continue reading Week 17: On Hillforts and other community projects…
As we wait for the foundations to be finished and the steel to arrive (and oh! what a long wait it seems) I have been looking back at the Museum recent history. The last time any major work was done to our building was in 1988-9 when the Council bought the old Athenaeum and began … Continue reading Week 12: 30 years ago…
This week I have been occupied in celebrating the 90th birthday of Keith Abraham, one of the museum's staunchest, and most generous supporters. Keith is following in the footsteps of our founder, William Frederick Rock in his generosity to the people of Barnstaple. Keith Noel Abraham was born in Hedge End, on the outskirts of … Continue reading Week 7: A Barnstaple Benefactor
Even though we are only 6 weeks into our building programme, this week marked the half way point for our Pop-Up museum. Sadie, our Activity Plan Programme Coordinator, organised a party for all the people who have contributed stories and information about our five themes for the new Social History Gallery and 45 people came … Continue reading Week 6: Time for a Party!
Of course there has still been a lot happening on site at the Museum, but this week I'd like to talk a bit about another project that affects museums in North Devon. To keep you going here's a rather strange panorama of our building site, taken by leaning out of my office window... Next year … Continue reading Week 5: A D-Day Digression.