Museum features in national journal

2 September 2011

Craven Museum & Gallery is thrilled to have appeared in the UK’s most important museum and heritage magazine; the Museum Association’s ‘Museums Journal’.

Each month the journal includes a feature which focuses on smaller museums that rarely get the opportunity to appear in other articles in the magazine. Entitled ‘The Museum of…’, it gives a brief overview of all aspects of the museum from highlights of the collection to visitor figures and survival tips. Below is a copy of the full article…

Louise Gray hears what links London, Stratford-upon-Avon and Washington DC, to Craven Museum & Gallery

Where Inside the Victorian town hall building in Skipton, north Yorkshire. The gallery is on the ground floor and the museum is upstairs.
What “The museum is like a lot of other local ones – an eclectic mix of archaeology, art, social history and costume,” says the museum’s acting curator Amy Ball. She is also the assistant curator of archaeology.
Opened 1930s. It moved to the town hall in 1973.

Collection The museum owns many artefacts relating to local heritage and the area’s ancient past, taking in neolithic tools, Roman remains and an iron age/Roman weapon known as the Flasby sword. Its Clement Roebuck art collection features 145 pieces, including one painting that the museum thought might be a Rembrandt. “It wasn’t,” says Ball. “It was actually quite a relief.” In 2003, the museum found that it had a Shakespeare First Folio. It was put in a safe until grants and bequests allowed the museum to put it on permanent display earlier this year.

Help at hand One manager, two curators and five part-time front-of-house staff. “A core group of 20 volunteers and 40 Friends are invaluable,” says Ball.
Budget The museum is run by Craven District Council. Both Ball and the social history curator are externally funded, by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund respectively. Their contracts end in January 2012.
Visitors 63,000 in 2010. Admission to the museum is free.

Highlights “The First Folio is our star exhibit,” says Ball. “But I would also choose the whole Roebuck collection and our 1850s Britannia printing press. Our local paper, the Craven Herald & Pioneer, was printed on it.”
Sticky moment “Finding out that our Shakespeare was a first folio,” says Ball. “The volume lived on the main bookcase in the curators’ office until expert Anthony James West visited and identified it as a First. It is one of only four on permanent display in the world; the other locations are London, Stratford-upon-Avon and Washington, DC. The security around it is like Fort Knox.”
Survival tip “Widen what you offer in order to cater for as many visitors as possible,” Ball says.
Future plans “There are plans to revitalise the town hall as a cultural hub,” says Ball. “If all goes ahead, the museum will move to the ground floor and be more accessible.”

One of Craven Museum's collection highlights- the Shakespeare First Folio
The museum's Britannia printing press- another collection highlight Craven Museum & Gallery is situated inside Skipton's historic town hall