Friday, 29 July 2011

Looking for inspiration? Then get thee to the local museum!

The local museum is an institution to cherish... when was the last time you visited yours? It could well be when you were dragged there by an over enthusiastic history teacher when you were in Year 5. If that's the case it's definitely time to go back. That's because museums are a frequently overlooked source of visual delight and inspiration. The best are also packed with more strangeness than you can wave a stick at and that's got to be a good enough reason to visit!

Museums, like shops, are subject to all kinds of design fashions and fads - play areas for the under threes, interactive exhibits, etc. - but many untouched gems still survive with their Victorian mahogany display cases and hand written exhibit labels intact and a pleasant 'musty' smell in the air.

Lecturer Tony Peart (33) loves to seek out these forgotten gems up and down the country.

Last week he ticked off quite a few...

  • High Wycombe (mostly chairs - but that's good because he likes chairs)
  • Amersham (one room in a tiny house)
  • Saffron Walden (unsurprisingly big on the saffron trade and pargeting)
  • Banbury (in a new building but with spectacular views of a canal junction)
  • Oxford (Ashmolean, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers)

The Pitt Rivers is a truly remarkable place. It lurks in an atmospheric, semi-twilight state as an annexe to the Museum of Natural History and unlike most museums is not arranged by culture, geography or date. It's simply arranged by subject (e.g. superstition, the face, the human figure etc.) This leads to some outstanding and surprising visual juxtapositions.

What follows are just a few of the snaps he took, but hopefully they will whet your appetite to seek out the gems hidden in your own local museum.

We'd also like to see and hear about your museum and its contents (the stranger the better) so please drop us a line at:

grillust at cumbria dot ac dot uk

and we'll post them here.

The Pitt Rivers

African Masks

African fetish figure

Japanese Noh mask

Michael Jackson?

Jack White and Meg

1 comment:

  1. Awh I have been to the Pitt Rivers a couple of times and it is amazing = ), great fun. The shrunken heads and model of boats and huts are the best in my opinion.