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Nidderdale Museum, Pateley Bridge

Founded: 1975        Governance: Independent Trust        Scope: Local history    Visited: Autumn 2016

They were terribly friendly at Pateley Bridge museum: would those in charge have been as welcoming when the building was a workhouse, or a magistrate's court, as portions of it were at periods in the past? That past is reflected at different points in the displays, which also boast an amazing variety of mannekins clearly pressganged from their former employment in department stores and clothes shops and refashioned into a kaleidoscope of guises. One of these is as a young woman whose presence in the clothing display is not quite explained: she is without doubt the most catastrophically hung-over looking museum mannekin I've ever seen. She's just got up, she has no idea how the party ended or why she's wearing a corset many, many times too big for her, and all she knows is that she needs bacon and eggs with dramatic urgency. More than one person has called attention to her resemblance to the late Amy Winehouse. Not far away from her, beyond the girl and young lad in 1920s bathing gear, is a lady in a print dress with Babycham at her side, a quintessence of life circa 1960.

Be that as it may, Nidderdale Museum takes the old-fashioned view that you should pack as much as you possibly can into a museum display, and its approach is maximalist in the extreme. Beyond its serpentine rail, the Victorian Room contains more than even any real Victorian drawing room could have done; drums menace you from above in a corridor, as there's nowhere else to put them. There is a mocked-up hairdressers' that looks like some exotic torture chamber with 1960s decor, in a sort of island you circle round trying to see everything. It all makes sense, when it makes sense, only in parts, but it's done with such indefatigable charm that you can't possibly object. Back in the '90s it won an award for 'the museum that does most with least' and that accolade seems not unjust. There is one point (at least) of tremendous museological flair when the mirrored doors at the end of the lead-mining display swing open to reveal the way out. It is, it cannot be denied, huge fun. 

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