Have you ever wondered just what happens when the Museum is closed to the public? Abandon thoughts of silent corridors, darkened displays and an eerie atmosphere…the Museum is full of life and laughter, as our staff and volunteers descend on the building to create and improve exhibitions and engage in fascinating research projects – there are a few of us here who would never go home, given the opportunity!
At the moment, a team of dedicated and extremely talented handymen are working to refresh the Victorian Arcade, specifically the Cobbler’s Shop, based on a real business in Brixham inside the craftsman’s home. The Street Scene is fascinating as it depicts local industry other than the fishery. It has been quite a task to deter our Museum Co-ordinator from putting up Cath Kidston wallpaper in the background…no, no, we must be authentic. We quite like the wallpaper covered with a repetition of cowboys on horseback with flying lassoes… you can get the pattern on a mug, too…where were we? Oh yes, this renovation will be a big improvement…do come and see it for yourselves.
Our Curator, Dr. Philip Armitage, has been researching the provenance of a hand fashioned walking stick, recently donated to the Museum and reputed to be the work of Napoleon, who arrived at Brixham on HMS Bellerophon exactly 200 years ago. Louise Cresswell is assisting him. They have discovered that similar sticks were constructed by prisoners of war on St. Helena, where Napoleon famously spent his last days in exile, so there may be a connection. They have written to the Societe Napoleonien in Paris (translation courtesy of our Writer in Residence’s husband, Edwin Day, M.A. (Oxon) with slight assistance from the Writer herself, who are both looking forward to translating the reply back into English)…watch this space for the response and see if we can uncover the mystery of the walking stick.
Stalwart Louise Lilli is spending hours looking at our database of photographs and cross referencing them with other sources to ensure that they are all accurately dated. She has so far checked over 1,000 of them and deserves commendation for her tenacity, especially when we interrupt her to admire an unusual view of Brixham or comment on some interesting picture from days gone by. Never mind, Louise, only another 5,000 or so to go…
Much is happening at the Museum as part of commemorations for the Great War – we will all be at a loss in 2019 when these come to an end. Several projects are being researched by Louise Cresswell and Writer in Residence Samantha Little, who are having a wonderful time looking through contemporary newspapers and correspondence from soldiers at the Front. Both freely admit to sitting up into the small hours in their respective homes continuing the search for information and photographs online; they hope to publish two books resulting from their research. We will promote them through social media in 2016…so don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!