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behind the scenes

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!

shepherds smock

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.

hitchin marketplace, oil on canvas, samuel lucas snr, 1840

Hitchin Marketplace, oil on canvas, Samuel Lucas Snr (1805-1870), 1840

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.

dolls' house, 1860-1880

Dolls’ house, 1860-1880

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!

a romantic view of eighteenth century hitchin by f.l. griggs

A romantic view of eighteenth century Hitchin by F.L. Griggs

 

 

Hooks Green Farm, Clothall by Alfred J Bamford

Hooks Green Farm, Clothall by Alfred J Bamford (c) North Hertfordshire Museum

One of our many tasks while preparing for the new North Hertfordshire Museum is to understand the collections we hold and where they came from. This often helps to tell us more about the objects, and it is why, when people donate items, we collect as much information about the person giving the item as we do about the object itself.

The Bamford family were one of the families involved in setting up Letchworth Museum and providing items for the collection. We were in correspondence with current members of the family about some of these items shortly after Letchworth Museum closed, and this has led to helping them with an interesting Art Exhibition, The Artful Gene, currently at the Letchworth Arts Centre until the end of August.

This is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by A.J. Bamford (1849 to 1929)  and his great grandson M.J. Bamford (b. 1959) who lives in Australia. 100 years after the first exhibition of Alfred’s work this new exhibition explores the Bamford family tree and features sketches, drawings and more by both artists comparing the similarities in style and subject between the two artists, and exploring whether artistic talent and style exist in the genes.

Reverend Alfred J Bamford was born in Folkestone in 1849 and although he was interested in the study of animals and a talented artist and illustrator, he trained in Christian ministry. His first church was in Kent after which he served abroad for six years in India and China. He returned to England and became minister of a church in Lancashire for twenty years, but retired early, and moved to the new Garden City of Letchworth in 1907.

The Hidden Stream on Norton Common by Alfred J Bamford

The Hidden Stream on Norton Common by Alfred J Bamford (c) North Hertfordshire Museum

One of Letchworth’s earliest residents, he took an active role in many of the town’s organisations. He was a member of the Literary and Debating Society and became Chairman of the Naturalist Society in 1916 during the period when the Society ran Letchworth Museum. He was a member of the Brotherhood Church, he lived on Hillshott and was known locally for his art work. Some of his paintings were shown in an exhibition of local Arts and Crafts mounted for the newly extended museum in 1920. He died in September 1929. Seven of his paintings were donated to Letchworth Museum, and can be seen on the BBC Your Paintings website and copies of them form part of the current exhibition.

Do visit the exhibition, particularly as there are sketches on show of local scenes that the family have not been able to identify and they are hoping to make use of local knowledge to fill in the gaps. Look out too for the workshops run in connection with the exhibition over the coming weeks.