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A Life in Remnants

When I was at college studying history, I knew I wanted to do something that involved sharing my love and enthusiasm for the past. Equally I knew I couldn't cope with the stresses of teaching - too coal-face, really - but thought working in the museum sector would be perfect. I read Paul Thompson's The Voice of the Past, an idealistic account of the value of oral history testimony, and articles by, and about, the great Elspeth King, the radical curator of the People's Palace in Glasgow. I was lucky enough to secure a place on the Museum Studies MA course at Leicester University, and my work placement on that course brought me my first job, cataloguing at the Priest's House Museum in Wimborne. Subsequently I found my way to the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, and Wycombe Museum in High Wycombe. My twelve years or so as a museum professional left me with an abiding affection for the world of museums, and I still believe that - given the chance - a good museum can have a great impact on the lives of individuals and the way a community thinks about itself. Thus, wherever I find myself, I look out for the local museum, and snap away with my camera, to get a feel for the museum and how it relates (if at all) to its locality.

This Is A Local Museum, For Local People

I sing in praise of the local museum; not the national museums, those great universities of material culture, which have a secure place in the affections of the nation and (relatively) stable funding and institutional support. Most of the museums I cover here are staffed substantially or completely by volunteers, occasionally with a professional curator or two, and struggle to find funds and people to keep the place ticking over. They should not be ignored for all that. Even the smallest and apparently least well-endowed museum can be a locus for an affecting encounter with the informative, the moving, the unsettling, or the beautiful. Some of the institutions featured below have a particular interest, or there was some element of the local historical landscape which is reflected in their collection, but most are general social history museums with an eclectic focus which gives rise to fascinating and sometimes amusing juxtapositions in their displays. Enjoy! 

Arundel Museum Bakewell Old House Museum Banbury Museum Willis Museum Basingstoke
Battle Museum Belford Museum Blandford Museum Bridport Museum
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery Buxton Museum Honeywood House Museum, Carshalton Castle Cary Museum
Chertsey Museum The Novium, Chichester Coldstream Museum Derby City Museum
Dorset County Museum Bourne Hall Museum, Ewell
Filey Museum Godalming Museum
Great Yarmouth Museum Haslemere Educational Museum Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes Hornsea Museum
Horsham Museum Jersey Museum & Art Gallery Launceston Museum Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum
Old Guildhall Museum, Looe Lyme Regis Museum Midhurst Museum The Old Operating Theatre Museum, Southwark
Nidderdale Museum, Pateley Bridge Beck Isle Museum, Pickering Portsmouth City Museum Richmond Museum
Museum of Richmondshire, Richmond, Yorkshire St Albans Museum St Ives Museum Rotunda Museum, Scarborough
Sherborne Museum Sheringham Museum Swanage Museum Tavistock Museum
Old House Museum, Thetford Rural Life Centre, Tilford Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro Market Hall Museum, Warwick
Priest's House Museum, Wimborne

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