Dartmouth Museum loans ships to Southampton
We always knew our ship models were special! Three of our ships, HMY Britannia, the SS Strathallan and RMS Queen Mary, have all gone for a holiday to the Southampton Ocean Liner Experience at the Bargate Centre, Southampton. Initially the loan is for 1 year. The Southampton Ocean Liner Experience is a new exhibition of great British passenger liners, to run alongside the Cunard Queens Exhibition in Southampton.
This all happened when Glen Gardner, one of the project partners for the SOLE, (who was born and brought up in nearby Brixham), visited Dartmouth Museum recently and was impressed by the models, seeing immediately that they would enhance his exhibition. Dartmouth Museum's curator, Brian Langworthy, agreed to the loan and the models were carefully transported to Southampton.
HMY Britannia, known to all as the Royal Yacht Britannia, was launched in 1953 and was used by the British Royal Family until 1998. Dartmouth Museum is very lucky to have this model of Britannia in it's collection and it is great that more people will now have the chance to see her in her temporary home in Southampton.
The SS Strathallan
The SS Strathallan was a P&O Steam Navigation Company ship, built in 1934 and used to carry mail between London and Australia. She was used as a troop ship during World War II, and was lost prior to the North African landings in 1942. According to The Strathallan Story:
U562 was the U-Boat that torpedoed and sank the graceful liner Strathallan at 2.30am on 21st December 1942 [.....] Onboard Strathallan were over 4000 British and American troops, 250 Queen Alexandra Military Nurses and 872 crewmembers including the Commodores of the Fleet Staff and Royal Navy DEMS Gunners. She was a mere 18 hours from port of disembarkation Algiers when the torpedo struck.
RMS Queen Mary
The luxury liner RMS Queen Mary sailed between Southampton and New York from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line. She is 1019 feet long, weighs 81,237 tons gross, and was built at John Browns Ship Yard, Clydebank, in 1934. She is now a hotel ship in Long Beach, California. This model took between three and four years to build.
Source: Dartmouth Museum
Date: 19 August 2011
Twitter Feeds Repay Work
Social Media is not an experiment at Dartmouth Museum, it's part of the reality of bringing visitors to the web site and thus gaining a circle of friends who will support the museum in whatever way they can. Twitter, the home of the 140 character conversation, is a hard medium to succeed in, and only time will tell with Dartmouth Museum's Twitter team, but it has been featured in the prestigious Museum Walk eZine for Saturday 6th August 2011.
The tweet about our Memories Page caught the editor's eye. And Museum Walk was tweeted out to the publisher, Caroline Halliwell's current followers, all 2,630 of them.
Obviously it would be improbable if more than two or three had visited Dartmouth! These are global followers. What we know for sure is that there are now at least 2,631 followers! We now follow Caroline!
We're certainly expecting increased web visitor numbers from the worldwide community. And a web site is just a part of the toolkit needed to bring visitors in.
Will we be tweeting this news item? You bet we will! And we'll mention @lacorbeau in the tweet.
We rather like Ravens.
Source: Dartmouth Museum
Date: 7 August 2011
Henley Collection has an 'erotic coconut', the Coco de Mer
In the news recently as an erotic souvenir given to William and Kate on their visit to The Seychelles, Dartmouth Museum's Henley Collection holds a Coco de Mer nut. The nut – William and Kate's, not ours! – was given global media coverage. An example is from The Australian of July 18th 2011. The article says:
Legend has it that sailors, who first saw the unique double coconut floating in the sea, imagined that it resembled a woman's disembodied buttocks.
The Australian goes on to say that 'In the 19th century the British General Gordon produced detailed "proof" that the Valle de Mai was the Garden of Eden and that coco-de-mer was the tree of knowledge.' Pretty stirring stuff!
Not as stirring as The Sunday Mirror on 22 May 2011. That paper did a comparison between the Coco de Mer and Pippa Middleton's rump!
All that aside, come to Dartmouth Museum and see our Coco de Mer in the cabinet in The Henley Collection. You'll be able to judge for yourself. And, if you want to learn more about it before you come, there's always Wikipedia.
Source: Dartmouth Museum
Date: 23 July 2011
Dartmouth Museum now has Twitter
It's time to bring our small but perfectly formed Dartmouth Museum into the 21st century, so we have. We now have a Facebook page, and now we have a Twitter feed. You can follow news items in both places.
We're not going to overuse either service. You won't be swamped with stuff.
Of course we'd love you to 'like' our Facebook page and to 'follow' our Twitter feed, but that isn't why we created them. What we would really like is for you to come to our museum in the most beautiful town in the South Hams, and to spend a couple of hours, more if you like, seeing the history of this jewel in Devon's crown.
Source: Dartmouth Museum
Date: 22 July 2011
Dartmouth Museum is now on Facebook
Dartmouth Museum has a presence on Facebook! Yes, we have created a brand spanking new page for our friends to find out a little more about us.
It's a great place for visitors to talk to us, give us their impressions, and loads of other things. You'll teach us things we never realised we could use it for
Oh yes! The page! It's here!
Source: Dartmouth Museum
Date: 21 July 2011
Hooray - the Henley Trail is a winner!
Students armed with clipboards took part in a day-long trial for a new educational pack last Thursday.
Dartmouth Academy students from Years 7 and 8 took part in the day as part of their Activities Week, tracing the footsteps of the Victorian-age Dartmouth ironmonger, artist and scientist William Cumming Henley.
Students started their day in the classroom learning about Henley before heading to Dartmouth Museum, which contains various items from his life, called the Henley Collection.
In the third and final part of the day, students were led around the town, along the newly established Henley Trail, which includes various locations in the town connected to his life.
The aim is to provide increased interactive outdoor learning, something the educational pack, produced by Dartmouth resident Ali Taylor and Dartmouth Museum, focuses on.
It also aims to teach pupils about some of the town's historic fugures.
Mrs Taylor, a retired teacher who formerly worked for an educational charity for 20 years and Thames Explorer Trail in London, was one of the members who took the students around the town.
'I approached Dartmouth Academy after discussions with the local museum', explained Mrs Taylor.
'When I first moved to Dartmouth, several years ago, I was blown away by how much history there was in such a concentrated area and William Henley was an ideal figure to hang the scheme on. The trial day was to help test out a draft of educational materials I'd prepared for the Dartmouth Museum that encourages young people to investigate what life was like during Victorian times.'
Further trials have already been suggested on figures like Thomas Newcomen and the plan is to officially launch the pack, aimed at primary and lower secondary schools, in September.
Lisa Print, of Dartmouth Academy, who helped arrange the day, said 'Ali Taylor has put together a really interesting and good quality pack of sources from Victorian Dartmouth and Henley's life including photographs, census returns and maps.
'From these we were able to glean aspects of Henley's life that really reflected the Victorian age.
'The town trail was enjoyable and informative and we learnt a lot.
'I would thoroughly recommend Ali's education pack to schools and teachers as a vivid and interesting way of learning.'
Any teachers wanting more information can contact Ali Taylor via the Dartmouth Museum on 01803 832923 (during opening hours. If Ali is not on duty a message will be taken), or or by email to her using email@example.com She's especially interested to hear from teachers who would like to organise group visits.
This article first appeared in The Dartmouth Chronicle on Friday 15 July 2011. The article and associated photograph are © the Dartmouth Chronicle and they are reproduced with their kind permission. They may not be reproduced without their express consent.
Source: Dartmouth Chronicle
Date: 15 July 2011
Dartmouth Museum's Henley Trail Passes Test!
After a great deal of work by Ali Taylor who created the trail, The Henley Trail, based upon Dartmouth Museum's Henley Collection, was tested last Thursday by students from years 7 and 8 at Dartmouth Academy and pronounced a huge success.
The Henley Trail looks at the work of William Cumming Henley, Dartmouth's self taught scientist, artist, poet, and writer. Henley's life and work is featured in The Henley Collection in Dartmouth Museum. The collection is designed to be not only informative, but also a hands on exhibit, with a table where young and old folk alike can see for themselves the things William Henley studied.
Ali Taylor, who put the living exhibit into context as The Henley Trail brought her experience working with the Thames Explorer Trail to Dartmouth to create a trail that encourages young people to discover what it was like to live and work in Dartmouth in times gone by.
Ali Taylor may be contacted via Dartmouth Museum during opening hours on 01803 832923 (if she is not on duty a message will be taken) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org She's especially interested to hear from teachers who would like to organise group visits.
Source: Dartmouth Museum
Date: 15 July 2011
Dartmouth Museum Moves Forward
Angela White and Brian Langworthy, designer and curator of Dartmouth Museum, are a formidable team. With a team of volunteers and fundraisers behind them they have transformed Dartmouth Museum over the last six years.
To mark the opening of the new Holdsworth Room at the museum in the town's historic Butterwalk, By the Dart talks to Angela, Brian and the conversion project manager Brian Parker about the changes, the challenges they faced and where the museum goes from here.
The Perfect Partnership
Dartmouth museum has always been a museum with many wonderful, fascinating and historically significant items but no way to display them coherently, due to the cramped conditions of the three rooms it occupies in the Butterwalk.
But now it boasts three themed rooms which show off the museum's collection in the best way possible - giving visitors a clear line to follow and the ability to see more exhibits than ever before. Angela's experience at the National Maritime Museum means that she understood 'how to tell the amazing stories of items, artefacts and towns'.
Her most recent design at Dartmouth is the Holdsworth Room. It tells the story of the people of the town and how they have shaped its development and how the historical events which took place here - including the Crusades, the defence against the Spanish Armada and the preparations for D-Day - have shaped it too.
Angela brought a vision for the room, and Brian makes it happen, with his eye for detail and handyman skills, he is just the right man to build and supervise work to convert the beautiful Butterwalk rooms into an interesting exhibition.
The History of the new displays at the Museum
The historic but idiosyncratic home of Dartmouth Museum in the Butterwalk contains a lot of challenges for anyone trying to install a modern museum display: uneven floors and rooms spread in a strange L shape - which have stopped previous curators from making sure the large collection in the museum's collection are displayed to their best effect.
But new funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Devon County Council suddenly provided the opportunity to look at the museum again and find a way to display the museum's amazing collection that would allow it to interest and intrigue visitors in the 21st Century.
The development of the Henley Collection - an astonishing assortment of samples showing the remarkable interests and achievements of ironmonger and Renaissance Man William Henley - into the Henley Study was the first step. The exhibition received significant funding from the Lottery and the Trustees of the Henley Collection and used up-to-date video and clever displays which allow visitors to engage fully with the exhibits: even allowing visitors to touch them in many cases.
This opened in 2006 and was a huge success, with the museum getting more than 10,000 visits per year since it opened.
This success spurred Angela and Brian on - The King's Room was reopened last year with a completely reworked interior after considerable work by the Trustees to obtain further funding.
Beautifully carved wooden display areas and drawers filled the historic room - named so because King Charles II held court there whilst stormbound in Dartmouth in 1671. The tall glass cases allow the original wooden panelling to be visible - meaning the entire room is steeped in inspiring history before you even begin to take in the detailed information boards, designed and written by Angela, which lead you through the maritime history of Dartmouth - which runs from the times of the Crusades to D-Day.
When the King's Room was completed, Angela and Brian had a few days to relax and revel in their achievement before beginning work on the Holdsworth room, which is being funded from the same pot as the King's Room - a total investment of £80,000.
Holdsworth - Setting out a town's social history
It was funded thanks to the Devon County Council Exeter Airport Fund, the South Devon Local Action Group, the Henley Fund from Dartmouth itself as well as digging into the Museum's savings and contributions from private donors - who are usually Museum members, but there are many who are not.
Angela's design for the Holdsworth will tell the social history of Dartmouth from the Stone Age through to modern times - the uncluttered but detailed design of the revamped room make it more accessible and gives visitors a clear route to follow - taking them through the town's entire history.
Featuring some incredibly rare artefacts, including Stone Age flints and Victorian Ivory trinket boxes, alongside gas masks and dolls' houses, the exhibition brings to life the lives of those who have called Dartmouth home in previous generations.
Angela said: 'I love to create displays that tell a story with artefacts - we can then create a story which is so full, greater than the sum of all the items in it. My experience in museum design is all based around putting these items into a coherent and simple story - people can follow the development of the town and see the significant events that have shaped it very easily. We want this museum to be interesting to a child and their grandparent at the same time. I am so proud of what we all have achieved here.' Brian Langworthy, a respected member of the community after years as a retained fireman and town councillor, took on the role of curator because he 'loves Dartmouth and think its history is so fascinating it needs to be preserved.'
'There has been a lot of work gone into this - but I think people will agree that it has been worth it to make sure that everything on display is accessible, easy to view and understand and fits into the overall story of the town we love,' he said.
Brian Parker, the project manager of the two-room re- vamp, said: 'The new layout is designed to suit different levels of visitors' interest. We now have exhibits clearly and accessibly displayed against a splendid background of this historic timbered house. Such high quality conversion does not come cheap, even allowing for the voluntary assistance of the museum members.
'This brilliant conversion is the result of skilful planning by Angela and the practical endeavours of Brian. Although others have given practical assistance to the project, it is Angela and Brian who have delivered the A* skill and effort needed to bring the project to its stunning conclusion.'
Angela said: 'I designed it three years ago and have spent the three last years writing the information boards with my partner Richard Danckwerts. The end result is very pleasing - we now have actually managed to display more in this room than ever before. We have drawers to open, things to interact with and TV displays, all making sure everything is relevant and interesting to all.' Brian Langworthy said: 'I just love the place and with Angela's design we now tell the story of Dartmouth better than it has ever been told before. I'm very pleased with it.'
The museum hopes to find ways to use activities, walks and new publications to engage even more with visitors and young people in particular, and also wants to look at new ways to make the world-famous Jesse Tree plaster ceiling in another part of the Butterwalk more accessible.
Museum Chairman David Lingard said 'This is a great team effort - there was also sterling work done by the Project Leaders at each stage, Mike Simons and Brian Parker for the King's Room and Holdsworth Room and also Ian Hart back in 2005/6 for the Henley Study.
However, for the moment, it's clear Angela, Brian and the rest of the museum's volunteer members can feel very proud of their establishment - it is interesting, relevant and beautiful: what more could you ask of your local museum? The Holdsworth room as it used to be.
[This article is reproduced by kind permission of By the Dart. The text and photographs are © By The Dart magazine and we are grateful for their permission to reproduce them here.]
Source: By The Dart
Date: 23 June 2011