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Filey Museum

Founded: 1971        Governance: Independent Trust        Scope: Local History    Visited: Autumn 2015

A somewhat shy institution, Filey Museum. I wandered around several streets following what I thought was the right direction and missed it completely, having to ask directions. The building was in fact a pair of cottages in a whitewashed terrace, and  you have to look out for a large lamp and the rather more reticent sign on the wall to show the way in. There is also a very strange black-and-white stone plaque over the other door reading '1696 IMN THE FEAR OF GOD BE IN YOU' which is doubtless sound spiritual advice but helps not a whit in orientation. 

As well as shy it's also very gentle and homely, and the visitor has the distinct impression of wandering around someone's cottage home, at least on the ground floor where there is a parlour and old-fashioned kitchen with all the accoutrements common to such displays - washboards and antimacassars and herb-choppers. So as not to disturb the visual impression, information that might normally appear on labels is instead relayed via a recorded voice-over. If your experience is anything like mine the helpful attendant at the front desk will come and turn them on for you (whether you like it or not ...). Not surprisingly the presence of the sea bulks large in the history of this former fishing town and therefore in the Museum collection too, with lifeboat memorabilia and a reconstructed fish baiting shed in the garden, which I got quite excited about until realising that it was just a mock-up. The other aspect of Filey is as a seaside resort and that appears in the Museum in the form of adverts and posters. The items I found hardest to take were an extraordinary series of knitted dolls illustrating historical characters; perhaps children like them. Balancing this there are some objects and images that bear moving material witness into the working lives of ordinary people. As a whole Filey Museum much reminds me of Sheringham in Norfolk, another fishing town with a later incarnation as a holiday resort, although Sheringham Museum is a rather larger affair.

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