Monday, February 27, 2012

Packing the museum

The preparations for moving the museum collections are already well advanced. Museum staff are listing and checking objects as they are packed. Objects have to be packed carefully. Medical or cotton gloves are used to handle the objects so that they are not damaged by grease from hands, and they are packed in acid free tissue to protect against dirt and chemicals. Then outer layers of packing protect against vibration when the boxes are moved. 

It's not a quick job!

Packing the prehistory displays - carefully sorting and packing archaeological remains.
From left to right - Dave Evans (Curator), Pam Judkins (Collections Manager), Mary Macqueen (Conservator) 
Leanne Dodds (Registrar) and John Whitaker (Curator) remove a Victorian sewing machine from display

We would love your comments and memories of visiting the museum on Wood Street?  Did you have a favourite object?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Online collections prove an invaluable resource!

Although Wakefield Museum is closed at the moment while the collections are packed up for removal, customers can still see over 20,000 things from the collections on Wakefield Council’s website. 

One recent enquirer wanted to know whether Wakefield and Pontefract received any of the World War I tanks which were given to towns that contributed money to the war effort. On the Museum’s online catalogue,  there are photographs showing tanks received both at Wakefield and Pontefract.  There are several of the Pontefract tank, showing it being paraded through the town on arrival, installed at Pontefract Castle and then later being taken away on a low loader when a local councillor saved it from being scrapped in 1934. 

Arrival of a World War I tank in Pontefract.  Tanks are recorded as arriving in Yorkshire in July/August 1919
Newspaper cutting of the installation of a World War I tank after the Armistice. A substantial concrete pad had to be made for this tank and the pad survives under the grass slopes which were reinstated in 1984-5 to cover the exposed foundations of the castle keep

Tank, from World War I, on display at Pontefract Castle.
 1919 - 1930 

Newspaper cutting showing preparations for the removal of the tank from the castle to Nevison's Leap.
26 September 1934
The tank was eventually cut up for salvage during World War II
To see more objects and photographs from the collections click here.

If you have any further information on the Wakefield and Pontefract tanks, we'd love to hear from you!  Please email, or leave a comment below.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Creative writing inspired by museum objects - George the Guinea-pig!

Animals from a Victorian Noah's Ark - currently on display at Drury Lane Library

Whilst the museum is closed, we have some objects on display at Drury Lane Library, and will be running fun activities and workshops based on them.  

A Victorian Noah's Ark on display in Drury Lane Library was the inspiration for children at creative writing sessions led by local author Conrad Burdekin this week. 

Victorian Noah's Ark on display at Drury Lane Library
The session began with a competition to list as many animals as possible in one minute. There was some debate about how to spell Platypus and what its plural was, but the library had all the answers! Then the children chose an animal and helped Conrad write a story about a caterpillar who turned into a butterfly on the Ark and got into trouble on her first flight. She was saved by a flying fish and Mrs Noah mended her wings with golden thread from the silkworms. 

Finally the children chose another animal and wrote their own stories. Elizabeth (aged 11) chose a Guinea Pig  - it must have been frightening for the smaller animals on the Ark...

George the Guinea-Pig

Do you have a short-story you'd like to share about a guinea-pig, or any of the other animals on the ark?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

News from the Stores!

This collection of copper / copper alloy measures is being worked on at the moment to get it ready for going on display in the new museum.  Dirt is painstakingly removed using cotton wool buds & a metal cleaner. The surfaces are then wiped over with acetone to help dry the surface of the metal and prevent corrosion. 

Next a coat of wax is given to the metal surface to protect it.

The difference between the cleaned objects and those yet to be tackled is clear to see!

The measures were used from the 1830s by officers from the West Riding County Council. They visited market traders and shopkeepers across the Manor of Wakefield to test the quantities of goods they sold, making sure that all was fair!