Buxton Museum & Art Gallery
1880 Governance: Local Authority Scope: Local history, geology Visited: Autumn 2012
Victorian municipal museum, and one that, increasingly rarely, remains
council-run, Buxton is gorgeous. Geology bulks large in its
collections, partly because of the prominence of the eminent Victorian
& Edwardian scholar William Boyd Dawkins. In a remarkable
gesture Dawkins bequeathed his entire study to the museum, not just his papers and specimens but the whole room and everything in it; where
on earth he got that idea from is beyond me, but the resulting gallery
is delightful. It even has a top hat on a table. Buxton was a Roman spa
town and the displays of the Museum's archaeology collection are very
imaginative, using bits and pieces to recreate archways, fountains and
shrines to generate a compelling visual impression of Roman-ness.
Finally, and perhaps most strikingly, there is the relatively recent
addition to the collection of an extensive display of Derbyshire Black
Ware, geometrically arranged in sidelit cabinets to bring out its
charismatic and somewhat terrible beauty.