I have been working in the new museum recently and it is looking fantastic – and it will get even better when the objects for display start appearing in the cases!
Some of these will be recognised from previous displays in Hitchin Museum and Letchworth Museum and others will be on view for the first time.
There will also be many objects in store but we can look forward to seeing some of these in special exhibitions and displays.
From time to time I reflect on some of the items I have worked with(cleaning/photographing/packing) and which I hope to see amongst the wonderful displays we will be treated to!
This smock was worn by a shepherd in Wallington (Hertfordshire) and each side (front and back) is the same.
Smocks were worn as protective outer garments and were made from rectangles and squares of fabric. Some of these pieces were smocked to give the garment its shape but the smocking was also decorative.
I can imagine the shepherd out in the fields, wearing this comfortable smock, which as well as covering his clothes also hopefully gave him some protection from the elements.
It’s exciting to see the new museum taking shape, as contractors install cases and measure objects ready for mounting. As part of the work to get the new displays ready, museum staff have been busy putting the finishing touches to labels, and moving some of the larger objects on to site.
This week, the large Lucas painting that hung on the stairs at Hitchin Museum was taken down and moved, ready to be mounted in its new display position early next year.
Some of the other things we moved included a wheel pattern, a mangle, a Polyphon, a door, a ‘Penny farthing’ bicycle and a large dolls’ house.
The old display galleries at both of the former museums are now full of boxes of packed objects as we continue to pack the stored collections ready to move, and staff have recently been packing boxes of books and files from the offices of each museum. At the new museum, objects and graphic panels are starting to go into cases, and everything is taking shape. We can’t wait to welcome the public into the amazing new museum when it’s finished!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at North Hertfordshire Museum!
This summer we have taken the pop-up museum panels on the road to various events in Letchworth and Hitchin. Our reception has been overwhelmingly positive; the main question is always ‘When can we come and see the new museum?’. We spoke to around 200 people, and although some are still sad about losing the old museums, everyone said that they understood the reasons for change, and told us that in fact they are now looking forward to having a bright and modern new museum to visit. Parents were keen to hear about the new Learning Centre, which will be ideal for holiday and after-school activities, and family historians were interested to hear about the Local Studies Centre. Everyone was happy that there will be easy access, with a lift to all floors, lots of loos (it’s amazing to remember that Hitchin Museum didn’t even have one public WC) and a café. The fact that we are telling the stories of the District through objects which have been hidden in store for years adds to the sense of anticipation. The newest pop-up panel, showing images from some of next year’s exhibitions, caused the most interest, particularly next Spring’s Arts Council Matisse exhibition; next summer’s sci-fi extravaganza, ‘Invasion’, and next winter’s show of Nick Sharratt children’s illustrations. Nick is best known for illustrating the Jacqueline Wilson books, as well as many of his own. We hope to open the new museum at the same time as the beautifully restored Hitchin Town Hall; watch this space for updates.
Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and to SHARE Museums East for funding all the pop-up panels, and the matching free flyers.