Monday, October 28, 2013

Hairdressers and museums

We recently visited Wakefield College in Glasshoughton to ask some hairdressing students to help us put together a display for Castleford Forum Museum.  The students were asked to choose a selection of 'beauty' objects and images from our collection - including early curling tongs and hairnets.

Hairdressing students examine equipment of the past!

The students also looked through old hairdressing books for inspiration
The students were asked to create something of their own, to be displayed alongside the museum objects, and they chose to create a Roman hairstyle, inspired by the Roman hairpins that will be on display.

Head of a Roman hairpin from Castleford
An amazing Roman hairstyle by students at Wakefield College

To go on display in Castleford Forum Museum
We are also really excited to announce that a group of the hairdressing students have offered come and take part on our Fabulous Forties Vintage evening at Wakefield Museum on Wednesday 6th November (5-7.30pm). 

So if you like vintage style, or have ever wondered what you would look like with Victory Rolls, come along and get the look!  The event is free.  See previous blog post for more info!
Get into the swing with a 40's style hairdo courtesy of Wakefield College
We seem to be all about hair at the moment!  Our new exhibition in Wakefield Museum - Men in the Mirror - opened on Saturday, in time to get those top lips limbered up ready for Movember!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fabulous Forties Vintage is coming to Wakefield Museum

We are getting ready for an all-singing, all-dancing event at Wakefield Museum on Wednesday 6th November!

Fabulous Forties Vintage!  Free event 5pm to 7.30pm
Just drop in!

For one night only!

  • See a selection of 40s stylish clothing, accessories and patterns from the collection.

  • Join in a taster session of 'Jitterbug Zumba'!

  • Get yourself a 40s hairdo courtesy of Wakefield College hairdressers

  • Close-harmony singers, the Honeybirds will be performing live!

  • Vintage-inspired crafts to try - make a paper corsage and some bunting!
This flower brooch is made from a (scanned!) page of a 1940s Magic-Beano

  • A talk on Women in War from Dr Phil Judkins 'More Deadly Than the Male" (starts 6.30pm in Learning Zone)
Women have carried out many roles in war - some well-known, some entirely unexpected. Come and see how many of the duties, both civilian and military, described by Dr Phil Judkins, and undertaken by women of many nations and beliefs in the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, you simply would not believe!

  • Knottingley milliner and historic costumier, Deborah Walton will be displaying her beautiful 40s-inspired creations

  • Enjoy a special 40s-inspired meal and/or drink in Create Cafe (without rationing!)

So put on your best tea dress, or smartest demob suit and join in the fun!

Because no outfit is complete without a hat, and to get you 'In the Mood' we have chosen a selection of 1940s hats from the collection and are asking you to choose your favourite for the display.

Pick your favourite by ticking the 'funny', 'interesting' or 'cool' reaction boxes under the hat picture you like the best. The hat with the most reactions by Sunday 3 November will go on display at the event.

Fabulous Forties Vintage - Hat 1

Vote on your favourite 1940s hat by clicking on any of the cool / interesting / funny buttons below!

Hat option 1

A silvery-coloured 1940s hat

Fabulous Forties Vintage - Hat 2

Vote on your favourite 1940s hat by clicking on any of the cool / interesting / funny buttons below!

Hat option 2

A knitted 1940s hat

Fabulous Forties Vintage - Hat 3

Vote on your favourite 1940s hat by clicking on any of the cool / interesting / funny buttons below!

Hat option 3

1940s sweeping style!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New approaches to working with schools

We have had a busy start to the school year.  From delivering workshops in role as Tudors and Victorians to finding out about Toys from the Past, our collections have been brought to life to children throughout the district.

We've also been trying some new things!

National Wool Week earlier this month saw pupils investigating the textile trade in Victorian Ossett.  Ossett was one of the main producers in the area for Mungo and Shoddy – Victorians were recycling even back then!  Looking at maps of the town, trade directories and census records pupils begin to piece together the lives of some of the inhabitants of Ossett over 130 years ago.  Working closely with the West Yorkshire Archive Service, pupils were introduced to Healey Mills in the late Victorian era, to learn new skills and about thier local area.
"Thanks for the workshop on thurs, was great and the kids loved it! We’ve loads to investigate now... Mini bus booked for Ossett!”

“The workshop was very meaniful to the children so they really enjoyed”

"Well organised and informative. Well worth the money. Thank you"

We've also been introducing digital technology to Primary School pupils - right through from Year 1 to Year 6!

New digital sessions using i-Pads have allowed pupils to look at the museums collections and create their own pieces of storytelling.  Younger pupils have been storytelling using digital puppet applications, whereas the Year 3s and over created short pieces of animation to explore Charles Waterton and the cayman on display in Wakefield Museum.

“The ipads really inspired the children to draw and join in, especially the less artistic.”
“Very enjoyable, the children loved the whole morning"

To find out about the sessions available to schools, please see the listing here, and/or email for further details.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unique collections in demand

Some important Roman Castleford objects from the museum collections were loaned to Malton Museum for a dayschool on 17th October. The loans are parts of clay moulds and glass waste. At first glance, not the most exciting of finds.  
Part of a clay mould 
These strange lumps of clay were once moulds used to make highly-decorated bronze vessels with bands of colourful enamel on the outside. 
The type of beautiful enameled bronze flask that was made from Castleford moulds
None of the actual bronze vessels have been found (so far!), and so the evidence for them comes from the clay moulds which were broken open to retrieve the vessels after they had been cast.  The coloured glass was used to create the enamel coloured patterns. 

So far Castleford is the only place in Roman Britain where this specialist manufacture has been found.  

As they are manufacturing waste, they are not impressive to look at, and in the past archaeologists may have overlooked this type of evidence. The workshop was aimed at archaeologists, finds specialists and museum curators so in the future they are more likely to recognise this kind of material when it turns up in excavations.

Professional training workshop at Malton Museum last week
A sample of these very special clay moulds will be on display in the new Castleford Forum Museum.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New museum display goes to Airedale Library!

Over the last 3 years, the 'You Are What You Ate' project has used evidence of medieval eating habits to examine how people eat today.  The project has included 3 exhibitions:

Sugar and Spice And All Things Nice at Wakefield Museum in 2011 (featuring some amazing 'bling' objects for medieval fine-dining)

The Dark Side of Eating at Pontefract Museum in 2012 (featuring the grim and grizzly effects of bad diet on the skeleton)

Food For All Seasons at Wakefield Museum in 2013 (featuring a stunning illuminated Book of Hours)

But we couldn't leave it there!

All 3 exhibitions have been distilled down into one display, which is now set to tour around the districts' libraries. 
The 'pod' will be in Airedale Library and Learning Centre until 12 January

The interactive 'pod' went into Airedale Library and Learning Centre this week - along with its bones, beer goggles, medieval cooking pot, recipe cards - and more!  A lot has been squeezed into this small display. Talks, school sessions and family activities are all being programmed in the libraries.

The pod is in Airedale until Sunday 12th January, and then moves onto its next venue.  Watch this space!

Plenty to see and do - including recipe cards to take away!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

We're on TV this Thursday!

This Thursday at 9pm, Wakefield Museum’s collections will feature on Pain, Pus and Poison: The Search for Modern Medicines a new series on BBC4 hosted by Dr Michael Mosley. The series explores some of the unlikely and surprising sources of many modern drugs. 

This week's episode looks at how some poisons have become cures  for illness and features the work of Wakefield’s pioneering Victorian eco-warrior Charles Waterton. During travels in Guyana in South America in 1812 Waterton learned how the Amerindian tribes made curare, a poison with which they tipped blow pipe darts. He brought back powerful samples and applied them to a donkey, which he then kept alive by using a pair of bellows to keep it breathing. The donkey survived and lived for decades, and Waterton had led new research into modern anaesthetics.

Back in July  2012 we went up to Waterton’s home, Walton Hall, with the roll of blow pipe darts and a curare bowl he brought back for filming. It is great to see Waterton’s great discoveries getting recognition on national TV.

Filming at Walton Hall
Don't get too close, Dr Mosley - those darts are still deadly
You can see the Waterton’s curare tipped darts and bowl in the Waterton gallery at Wakefield Museum.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Moustache Musings

Guest Blogger - Mr Percy Tew's Moustache

Greetings and salutations to all moustache enthusiasts. I have the splendid honour of being asked by Wakefield Museum to do a ‘guest blog’. 
Allow me to introduce myself, I am the fur, the mane, the whiskers, the strands, the lip thatch the marvellous and resplendent moustache of Mr Percy Tew.

Percy Tew and I in1889

The face upon which I reside belongs to that of Percy Tew, the eminent and important Wakefield Banker.  You may find us in the hallowed chambers of the West Riding Bank on Wood Street Wakefield.

I have been asked by the pogonophiles (those who love or study beards) at Wakefield Museum to discuss my life as a distinguished moustache and tell you about the forthcoming exhibition at this fine venue.
The life of an illustrious moustache such as myself, comes with grave and significant responsibilities. As a banker’s moustache I must represent stability, responsibility, trust and morality.  Mr Tew and I are to be trusted, admired and revered.  I must be constantly in perfect order, this is no mean feat. For example Mrs Tew likes to ensure that her beloved husband is well provided with tea, but a hot cup of steaming tea can play havoc with one’s moustache styling – a drooping moustache is not an attractive or desirable look.  Luckily there is a fine invention to combat this terrible peril – the moustache cup.  A small crescent shaped lip is applied to the cup allowing the moustache to gently rest whilst supping, keeping the strands safe from wilting.

I like to think that I have assisted with some of Mr Tew’s most inspired ideas, as when he is deep in thought he often twiddles some of my longer strands.  I am well rewarded of course,  Mr Tew keeps impeccably groomed, visiting his trusted barber frequently.  He also uses the best brand of moustache wax and has several effective and beautiful moustache brushes.
I note with considerable interest the varying styles of men’s hair featuring in this new exhibition.  I am astonished and alarmed to see some of the slapdash and, frankly shocking, ‘modern’ styles some men find acceptable.  It even transpires that men now shave at home – themselves – how preposterous.  

I would encourage all forms of facial hair to visit this most informative and entertaining display.
Now I ‘moustache’ I have a very important banking problem to solve with Mr Tew…

Men in the Mirror: opens Saturday 26 October at Wakefield Museum. Free admission.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Drambuie bottles, hobnail boots and crisp packets

Artefacts or objects – Why do we collect and display what we do

After a Twitter post about objects going on display at the new Castleford Forum Museum (opening soon by the way!) we had a comment in response questioning the use of the word ‘objects’:

Hope you mean artefacts I see objects in the street & don't want see them in a Museum?”

This got us thinking….

When we think of the ‘great’ museum artefacts we are lucky enough to be able to see in our country’s museums we may think of The Rosetta Stone, The Piltdown man, The Sutton Hoo burial and The Crown Jewels.  These fabulous, unique, inspiring and priceless items are crucial in telling the story of Britain, and exploring its place in the world.  So how do you feel about museums collecting and displaying a Drambuie bottle or a hobnail boot?

As a museum service we have a collecting policy which informs what is added to, and kept in, our collections.  Here is an extract from our policy:

‘Wakefield Council’s Museums collect, safeguards and make accessible approximately 118,000 objects that document and record the human, social and cultural history of Wakefield and district from the distant past to the present day. We want to enable both citizens and visitors to the district to explore these collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment.’

It goes on to say:

‘Wakefield Museums collects social history material that enhances an extensive collection showing the changing lives of people in the Wakefield district since 1650. Formal collecting first began in the early 1920s. Together, this material is evidence of the way of life and achievements of people who lived or live in the Wakefield district.’

Our collection includes some amazing objects.  The collections that will be going on display at Castleford Forum Museum are varied and fascinating, unraveling the story of Castleford and the people who have lived there:

Bronze Age settlers who left bone tools and daggers

An Iron Age warrior buried in a chariot


A Roman soldier who lost a hobnail boot!


Coalminers fighting for their livelihoods

Castleford glass workers creating the everyday and demonstrating their extreme skill and craftsmanship

Whatever we collect and however we want to refer to them, as artefacts or objects, as unique or every day, as conventional or controversial, we try to ensure that our collections reflect real lives, and allow us to tell the stories that our ancestors, or we, create every day.  
We therefore believe that every object in our collection, no matter how spectacular or every day helps tell the stories of our lives and our history.
As for those objects that you see in the street….
Here is a crisp packet commemorating the royal wedding in1982 - should this be in a museum?
We'd love to know what you think about what we collect and display….

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bobbin to Wakefield Museum!

This Saturday Wakefield Museum reveals a special new garden made entirely from wool. Using knitting and crochet techniques local knitting groups, Wakefield’s Wool ‘n’ Stuff and Flock to Ossett as well as other talented individuals have come together to produce a beautiful and colourful array of flora and fauna. The garden includes a vegetable patch, a variety of flowers and even an apple tree. 

Patterns from the museum collection have helped to create a woolly garden!

Come and see if you can spot the squirrel in the case!

Local knitting groups have been busy creating a woolly garden!
The woolly scene is inspired by Wakefield’s textile manufacturing past. A patchwork of woollen industries since medieval times from selling to spinning and dyeing has shaped the town and the city is still spinning yarns today. Garments based on patterns in Wakefield Museum’s collections will also feature.

The garden is casting off a week of woolly wonder for National Wool Week, including a whole week of special school sessions in the museum, exploring the Victorian textile mills in Ossett.

Sirdar knitting pattern from the museums' collection
Special Event!
Wednesday 16th October 
(5 - 7.30pm) 
Textile artist, Jane Howroyd, will be demonstrating drop spinning and medieval fingerloop braiding in Wakefield Museum, with opportunities to try it out for yourself – a spin-class that won’t get you sweaty! No need to book, just drop in.  

Our curator will also be on hand to show some wool-inspired objects from the collections - including some rather amazing knitting patterns which may inspire you to get knitting (or just make you giggle!).

All of these activities were inspired by our work with the West Yorkshire Textile Heritage Project.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The objects are going into Castleford Forum Museum!

This week is busy with object installation -  and it is looking amazing!

We're not going to show you everything here, but just offer a teaser - you'll have to come and see it all for real when the new museum and library opens!

Objects being carefully unpacked to go in their new homes

Specialist mount-maker, James, drying the custom-made devices that will be used to secure objects
An example of the mounts in use - so intricate!
These glass walking sticks laid out ready, look absolutely stunning now they are in their case - but you will have to come and see them for yourself!

We're not even going to tell you what this special object is! Any ideas?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Exhibition at Pontefract Museum

Pontefract Art Club – Annual Exhibition

A new exhibition has opened at Pontefract Museum, displaying the work of local artists who are members of Pontefract Art Club.  The exhibition runs from 21 September to 14 December.

Some of the artwork is for sale so it is a great opportunity to get some unusual and unique Christmas presents.

Pontefract Art Club have been exhibiting their work for over 30 years. From watercolours to oil paintings and landscapes to abstracts a wide range of skills and painting techniques will be on show.

Pontefract Art Club was founded in 1978 by Alan Bracken, Head of Graphics at Doncaster Institute of Higher Education and a keen amateur artist.  Alan served as President and was active in the Club until his untimely death. His widow, Dorothy, awards ‘The Alan Bracken Trophy’ each year to the most improved member of the club. 

Pontefract Art Club has been home to several artists who have gone on to make their mark in the art world, namely Harry Malkin, David Newbould, William Selby, William Shone, Ray Oliver and Janet Golphin.

A history of the club would be incomplete without a mention of the stalwart service given by Audrey Tarpey and Gordon Fell who served in many capacities over the years. Both are sadly missed by the Club. Their President, David Newbould, continues to support and entertain the members and gives freely of his time and experience.

The Club continues to flourish with around 65 members, and a varied programme of events culminating in the Annual Exhibition. The club now holds its weekly meetings on most Wednesday evenings at St. Giles Church – new members are always welcome.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What's on at Wakefield Museums

The next six months is an exciting time for Wakefield Museums.  With the opening of Castleford Forum Museum in Autumn, a programme of fascinating exhibitions and lots of special events and activties, there is sure to be something that appeals to everyone.

To find out about what is on at Wakefield Museum, Pontefract Museum and Castleford Forum Museum see our brand new Events & Exhibitions leaflet by clicking on this link:

Events and Exhibitions Oct 2013 - March 2014

Some highlights of the programme include:

The opening of Castleford Forum Library & Museum

The new Castleford Forum Library and Museum is scheduled to open autumn 2013.

The museum invites visitors to follow the history of Castleford from the Bronze Age to the modern day. Discover why the Castleford area was a great and important meeting place for Bronze Age people. View a unique and special Iron Age chariot. See objects from Castleford’s time as an important Roman town. Not forgetting marbles, rugby, mining and Rugby!

The Men in the Mirror exhibition at Wakefield Museum

 26 October 2013 - 31 May 2014

What do handlebars, Mexicans, pencils and toothbrushes all have in common? They are all names of moustache styles. Follow the changing face of male grooming in this hirsute exhibition.

The Great War Inspires at Pontefract Museum

25 January 2013 - 30 August 2014

To commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of World War 1 there will be display of community artwork inspired by objects in the museum collection from this period.

WW1 Handkerchief from the museum collections
Fabulous Forties Vintage event at Wakefield Museum
Wednesday 6 November, 5pm to 7.30pm
Join us for a wartime vintage evening with forties fashion and music.
Florence family event at Pontefract Museum
Wednesday 19 February, 11.00am - 2.00pm.
Did you know that Florence Nightingale almost married a man from Pontefract? Learn about the famous nurse and make a fabulous lamp to take home.
To be kept up to date with Events and Exhibitions join our e-mailing list, email us.