Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Holiday activities

There's a lot happening for families over the Summer Holidays whether the sun shines or the rain pours!
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If you would like to recieve a copy of the flyer, and be added to our mailing list, please email.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Readers' group with a difference!

This is the book group with a difference - where you might find yourself mixing up medieval remedies, trying on a plague mask or perusing original documents from Wakefield Asylum! 

Previous sessions have included making medieval medical remedies, and trying on a plague  mask - not your usual readers' group!

Each month, the group members read a book of historical fiction - ranging so far from the time of Genesis to 1960s America - which they will then discuss the following month. Because this group is run by both the Libraries and Museums Service, each month an object from the Museum Store, from the time period or the theme of the book of the month, is also brought along for the group to explore.

The current book being read is "The Remains Of The Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro - the reminiscences of an early twentieth-century butler. No doubt the next meeting of the group with resound with discussion of class, social change, the nature of relationships, formality versus informality in the workplace and the definition of 'dignity'.

The current book for discussion

If you would be interested in coming along to the Historical Readers' Group, the next meeting is on 9th July, from 11am-12noon in the Wakefield One Library.  The group meets on the second Tuesday of the month.  

Feel free to email for more details.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Free Adult Events at Wakefield Museum

The secret of good beef: modern day beef production and the factors influencing the eating quality of beef
Wakefield Museum, Learning Zone

Thursday 27 June, 6.30pm

Adult talk - John Mackey

Johnny will take at look at how quality beef cattle can be raised on a diet of grass. After a brief background to his family farming business, he will take the audience on a walk through the life cycle of a beef animal from birth to slaughter, focusing on the four main factors influencing beef eating quality - diet, breed, growth rate and stress.

Entry is free and there is no need to book.
For more details, email or phone (0113) 343 1910.

The triumph of the mould
Wakefield Museum, Learning Zone

Wednesday 3 July, 5.45pm prompt

Adult demonstration - Ivan Day

Solomon's Temple - from a 1769 recipe
In this illustrated talk and demonstration, food historian Ivan Day will survey the remarkable genre of figurative food from the late medieval period to the eighteenth century. He will not only bring some remarkable wooden, ceramic and metal examples from his own collection, but demonstrate the unmoulding of early seventeenth century gingerbread, Georgian flummeries, sugar work and jellies from original period moulds.
Ivan Day with a couple of his moulded flummeries

Booking essential as places are limited - please call 0113 3431910 or email to book.

Both of these events are being run as part of the You Are What You Ate project in partnership with the University of Leeds, and University of Bradford - funded by the Wellcome Trust.

See here for the full programme of this season's talks, all on the theme of 'food for all seasons'.

Monday, June 17, 2013

New medieval manuscript on display at Wakefield Museum

The Food For All Seasons Exhibition at Wakefield Museum opened in March and runs until September.  The exhibition demonstrates what was on the menu season by season in medieval Wakefield.

As part of the display we have had the amazing opportunity of exhibiting some very rare and beautiful objects, on loan from the University of Leeds Brotherton Library:  3 intricately decorated books of hours.

The second book of hours being put on display
Due to the delicate and sensitive nature of these loans the manuscripts have to be protected from light and have the pages turned every 7 – 14 days to prevent any light damage.  The books can only be on display for a short amount of time.  The first book of hours has now been returned to the Brotherton library and replaced with an equally stunning manuscript. 
The book of hours has had a special mount made to safely hold it open for display
Don’t miss this rare and special opportunity to view these incredibly beautiful books.

This exhibition is part of the You Are What You Ate project, funded by the Wellcome Trust and in partnership with Wakefield Council, the University of Leeds and the University of Bradford.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Creating a Better Museum

An article about Wakefield Museum was published by Museums and Heritage Advisor:


Ensuring that our museums continue to prosper in these difficult economic times is the major challenge facing the museum sector. One possible way forward for protecting museum’s in the future is through co-location and integration with other services to reduce overall operating costs and improved efficiencies whilst benefiting from new and exciting synergies that can lead to improved customer experience.
As a consequence of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, Wakefield Council had to look closely at all its services to address a significant budgetary deficit and the Museum Service was no exception and it had to find a way to reduced its overall running costs whilst ensuring that core services continued to be delivered to the public remain.    
To meet this challenge the Museum Service  had to do something radical and to face up to a major operation issue – the future of Wakefield Museum.

To read the full article - click here

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Artists in the Atrium

Wakefield One Atrium Case Commission
We have recently been successful in securing funding from Arts Council England for a project to commission an artist or cultural organisation to create an installation using Wakefield Council’s museum objects in an innovative and exciting way - a special showcase in the Lower Atrium of Wakefield One. 
We are looking for an artist to use our collections as inspiration to create a beautifully engaging display. Combining artistic practice, be it sculpture, multimedia or painting, with museum objects to wow, thrill and surprise our visitors. Take this opportunity to amaze us with ideas that allow people to engage with museum collections in a different way. As long as the objects are safeguarded we will consider anything…
The prominent atrium case (currently contains a printing press)
We have pre-selected two areas of our collections to choose from to act as the centre point and inspiration for the installation. They are either:
·         Architectural stonework - The museum collections include numerous examples of feature stonework from now demolished buildings across the district.
·         Painted bath - A late Victorian painted and stencilled metal bath
Project budget: up to £4000
An example of the architectural stonework available
Painted bath - the inside is painted to look like marble!
Project timetable:  Closing date for proposals 1 July 2013. Display to open in October 2013.
For full details of the commission and how to apply please e-mail 

Monday, June 10, 2013

All in a flap!

Vote for your favourite 1920s dress

The 1920s are coming to Wakefield Museum but we are all in a flap!

Historic costume enthusiast Nicola Townend has been back with us to start preparing a 1920s display in our Dress to Impress case. Beaded flapper dresses are the order of the day, but Nicola can’t decide which one to use.

We have a short-list of three dresses, all from the 1920s, when jazz and the Charleston came to Wakefield.

Our current Dress to Impress display explores a night out in Wakefield in the 1820s

Nicola examines one of the dresses - we are spoilt for choice!

Pick your favourite by ticking the 'funny', 'interesting' or 'cool' reaction boxes under the dress picture you like the best. The dress with the most reactions by  Sunday 30 June will go on display at the end of July.

All in a flap - Dress 1

Vote on your favourite 1920s dress by clicking on any of the cool / interesting / funny buttons below!

Dress option 1
A plain black dress decorated with bead patterns and fabric strips, 1920s

All in a flap - Dress 2

Vote on your favourite 1920s dress by clicking on any of the cool / interesting / funny buttons below!

Dress option 2

Black dress with underskirts decorated with explosions of white beads

All in a flap - Dress 3

Vote on your favourite 1920s dress by clicking on any of the cool / interesting / funny buttons below!

Dress option 3
A pink dress decorated with glass beads and sequins, forming stylised flower  patterns,  1924-1927

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fun for 2-5 year olds!

Yesterday was full of fun out of the sun for the Crafty Crocs at Wakefield Museum.  Our theme this month was shapes.  We looked in the museum for squares, rectangles, circles and triangles using squishy shapes as our guide.

Back in the learning zone our crafty crocs designed some shape monsters and created a collage of shapes on to a picture of a Cayman.

The best fun was had when we experimented with sticking foam shapes to a window with water – here are some of the pictures we created using our foam shapes.

The next Crafty Crocs sessions are on Tuesday 2 July 10 – 11am and 1:15 – 2:15pm booking on essential as places are limited.  Call 01924 302700 or e-mail 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

West Yorkshire Textile Heritage Project

From April to June this year the West Yorkshire Textile Heritage Project team has been working with Wakefield Museum to preserve and share textile history collections.

The project is an innovative collaboration between Wakefield, Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale local museum services and is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. Over the coming year the project will create a Heritage Trail, a searchable online collections portal and a legacy of shared knowledge. The idea for this project came from local museums’ commitment to celebrating the region’s industrial heritage and sharing museum collections with the widest possible audience.

Wakefield Museum’s collection offers an insight into over 200 years of textile production. A review is currently underway which will create a clearer understanding of the collection’s significance to the Wakefield area and to the wider national and international story of industrial textile production.

In the nineteenth century Wakefield and it surrounding regions has a strong textile manufacturing sector with companies dealing in raw wool, spinning yarn, weaving cloth and producing reclaimed wool known as ‘shoddy’. Some of the great objects in the museum’s textile heritage collection include fabric samples, sample books, advertisements, packaging and photographs which document everyday life on the mill floor.

A particularly interesting object is a Fowler & Co. Textile Calculator. This pocket-watch like object would have been used by weavers to calculate the relationship between ‘weft’, ‘loom’ and ‘dent’ and shows the intricacies involved in producing a piece of cloth. Fowler & Co. Calculators was a Manchester company originally founded as the Scientific Publishing Company in 1898 by William Henry Fowler. They were a well known manufacturer of circular slide rules and made a range of instruments for use in the textile industry. Today computer scientists study Fowler & Co. products as they investigate the history of computing.

Fowler & Co. Textile Calculator
Another highlight of Wakefield Museum’s collection are knitting patterns printed by companies based in the region, including: Sirdar, George Lee & Sons and Readicut Wool. This archive has been interesting to work with as it demonstrates the skill and pride which home-knitters brought to producing their own clothes. 

We’ve really enjoyed wondering at some of the fantastic models’ poses and sometimes impractical woollen outfits! 

Readicut patterns
Anyone working on their own pair of cable knit trousers? These patterns have inspired us to start planning some knitting activities for Wool Week (14-20 October) so have your knitting needles at the ready!

Take a look at the West Yorkshire Textile Heritage blog for more information about the collections review and textile history. 

You can also find the West Yorkshire Textile Heritage Project on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fun for families over half term holidays

We have had a busy half term delivering a variety of workshops to children aged 2 upwards across the district.

“. . .  really enjoyed it and facilities + staff were great. Thank you “

Families at Airedale Library had the chance to learn all about the fascinating, delicious and very very dangerous history of Britain's national drink. Along with the chance to look at some rarely-seen things from the museum collection, participants made their own teapot craft to take home!

At Wakefield Museum, families had a look at some mad-sounding medieval medicine, and recycling was the theme at Pontefract Castle.

 "We learnt about ancient rubbish and enjoyed making bows and arrows"

At Sandal Castle families learnt how Medieval folk would have made all their necessities from naturally sourced materials. Participants were invited to create some really cool things with natural materials at this fun workshop, including a bug village!

For the younger visitors to Wakefield Museum we created some food inspired art and crafts with oats, beans and peas – all food that was available in the medieval times.

“I liked the food project. It encouraged my daughter to think about which colour suited the different parts of her picture”

Our youngest visitors made sculptures and pictures from foodstuffs

Our next event is this Thursday, 6 June.  An adult talk 'A taste of living history: organic gardening today' by Bob Sherman.  6.30 in the Learning Zone, Wakefield Library and Museum.  No need to book.

Bob Sherman is Chief Horticultural Officer at Garden Organic, the national charity for organic growing, and has been gardening organically for nearly 40 years. He has been a regular contributor to gardening magazines for many years and has written and contributed to eight books.

Since 1996, he has had responsibility for Garden Organic's Heritage Seed Library (HSL), a collection of rare, historic and endangered vegetables, now including seed of more exotic imports that have been grown here through several generations by immigrants to the UK from all over the world.

The collection and purpose behind it are the focus of his talk, 'A Taste of Living History: organic gardening today'. The talk will explain the value of this heritage and show how organic gardening looks to the future whilst respecting the past.

This talk is part of the You Are What You Ate project, funded by the Wellcome Trust.