Monday, March 30, 2015

Lights... Camera... Present Arms!

The British Civil Wars - a new exhibition opening in Pontefract Museum on 2 May, will explore Pontefract's role in the civil wars.  Packed with unique and special objects from the museum collections and on loan to us, it will explore this fascinating and turbulent period of history.

Newly created armies in the civil wars relied on military manuals to help train new volunteers and recruits.  We have now made a short film to bring one of these manuals to life. 

The exercise of armes for calivres, mvskettes, and pikes
Jacob de Gheyn - 1565-1629

We went to the rather brilliant Histrionics to provide us with a soldier, and Martin, from The Earl of Manchester's Regiment of Foote re-enactment group, was our man.

So we set up a 'blank page' background...

Thanks to Martin, Dave and Mike for making the process so easy! 

You will be able to see the finished piece when the exhibition opens from 2nd May.

Special Event:
Museums at Night - The British Civil Wars
Thursday 14th may 6pm to 7.30pm
Lots of activities for all ages 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Another take on our 1950s party

Food historian (of TV and Radio fame), the wonderful Dr Annie Gray, has written a blog about the 1950s party event held at Wakefield Museum on 25th February.

Giving a food historian's insight into 1950s cookery, it's worth a read.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Come to Wakefield Museums for Springtime fun!

There's lots going on in museums over Easter - why not come and see us!

Easter Crafts!
Monday 30th March—Saturday 11th April 2015
Drop-in during opening hours
Castleford Museum
Get creative this Easter with a range of crafts at Castleford Forum Museum!
All welcome. No need to book.

Easter Eggs-Decoupage Style!
Tuesday 31st March 2015
Drop-in between 11am -2pm
Castleford Museum
Come and see our collection of peculiar witch balls and use their decoupage design to create your very own colourful Easter Egg!
All welcome. No need to book.

Bags, baskets and boxes
Wednesday 1 April 2015Wakefield Museum
10:30-11:45am and 1:30 - 2:45pm
See bags and boxes in our collections and
create your own to take home.
Ages 2-5
Free but booking essential on 01924 302700 or email

Thursday 2 April 2015
Castleford Museum
Drop-in between 11am - 2pm
Learn more about the Romans who created the town of Castleford.
All welcome. No need to book.

Roman Masks!
Tuesday 7th April 2015
Drop-in between 11am - 2pm
Castleford Museum
Tragedy! Comedy! Mystery! Romans loved to dress up and put on shows and now so can you, with your very own Roman style mask!
All welcome. No need to book.

It’s A Sailor’s Life For Me!
Wednesday 8 April 2015
Wakefield Museum
11am - 12:30pm or 1:30pm - 3pm
Learn about Wakefield’s Elizabethan explorer
Sir Martin Frobisher, and make some fun crafts!
Ages 5-12
Free but booking essential on 01924 302700 or email

Flower Pot Men
Friday 10 April 2015
Drop-in between 11am - 2pm
The creator of the Flower Pot men was from
Castleford. Make your own Bill or Ben to take home.
All welcome. No need to book.

Design Your Own Mug!
Saturday 11 April 2015
Drop-in between 11am –2pm
Castleford Museum
Be inspired by our hand-painted pottery
collection and design your own mug with this fantastic workshop!
All welcome. No need to book.

Please email if you would like to be added to our mailing list and be the first to hear of our future events!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

To wish all Mums a very happy Mother's Day, here are a selection of objects from the museums collection decorated with mother-of-pearl


These bellows are from the 18th century and were donated to the museum by Frank Green.Frank Green was an avid collector and built up an extensive and important collection. He ran the family business in Wakefield making the 'Green Economiser', that his father had invented.

Tatting Shuttle

Tatting is a way of making lace from a series of knots and loops. The tatting shuttle holds thread and guides it through the loops making the knots. You don't have to tat to like these, and in fact they are very collectable.  This one dates to around 1840.

Carte de Visite cases

A carte de visite is a small photograph, invented in Paris in 1854, they are about the size of visiting cards.  They were very popular in Victorian times. They featured many famous figures and were traded and collected. The only known picture of Mary Seacole was taken for a carte de visite.

Victorian evening purse
Lace and mother of pearl decorated fan
Suede gloves, with mother of pearl buttons

Happy Mother's day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The persuasive power of 'Mother'

As the shops are full of Mother's Day marketing, we look back to 1915 and see that the persuasive powers of 'mother' were used to get men to sign up to the army.

‘Go! It’s your duty lad. Join to-day’

This poster features in Wakefield Museums new exhibition 'A call to arms: the art of persuasion - recruitment posters of World War One.'

Lithograph, June 1915.  Printed by David Allen & sons Ltd, Harrow.  Published by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, no 109.

By June 1915 recruits for the army had fallen and enthusiasm for the war effort was waning.
Posters like this one tried to appeal to mothers to put aside selfish reasons and send in their boys. It received criticism for appearing too much like any other advertising campaign and humorous copies depicted the mother selling different products.

See this poster and others at Wakefield Museum, Wakefield One, Burton Street, Wakefield, WF1 2DD.  Free entry.  The exhibition runs until 26 September.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Aviary in the Atrium Commission

May 2nd 1865. On this night at 11 o’clock two nightingales were singing melodiously in the Park at Walton Hall. Extract from the Diary of Charles Waterton, 1865

This is the last entry in the notebook of Charles Waterton, the Wakefield naturalist, explorer and pioneering conservationist. He died on 27 May 1865 aged 82. 2015 will mark 150 years since he passed away – and the near 150 years taken to catch up with his progressive ideas for nature conservation!

From May 2015 for a year Wakefield will mark this anniversary to celebrate Waterton’s incredible life and commemorate his legacy.

Wakefield Museums have been successful in securing funding from Arts Council England for a project to commission an artist or cultural organisation to create an installation in showcases at Wakefield One.  Wakefield’s new flagship civic building opened in 2012, it accommodates a range of Council services including a new museum and library. Audiences to the building are diverse, ranging from library and museum visitors, to users of the council services point.

We are looking for an artist to create a beautifully engaging display taking inspiration from:

150 Nightingales or 150 Birds in Waterton’s Life

This display should wow, thrill and surprise our visitors.   Take this opportunity to amaze us with ideas that allow people to engage with this subject.  Consider thinking ‘outside’ the atrium case this could be physical objects, sound or digital (there are some constraints in the building but we are willing to consider anything!).

Resources available:

Up to two Atrium showcases: Freestanding and glazed on all four sides and top with four internal lighting columns in each corner. Display dimensions (interior measurements) are (h x w x d) 1944mm x 2227mm x 1477mm and 1944mm x 1477mm x 1477mm 

Staff: curator for assistance with subject matter

Reference material:  A range of reference material relating to Charles Waterton.

For more information about Charles Waterton:

-          Visit Wakefield Museum  Waterton Gallery

-          Visit Wakefield Museum Web Pages

Project budget: up to £3500

Project timetable:  Display to open week commencing 20 June 2015 and will be on display for 6 – 9 months.

This budget covers fee and delivery of the following:

  • The  formation of a visually interesting and engaging  display as part of the Nightingale Festival using  inspiration from ‘150 Nightingales or 150 Birds in Waterton’s Life’.
  • Graphic interpretation explaining the installation (text writing, proof reading, image selection and sourcing, graphic design and production)
  • Text and images  for marketing material (marketing material will be created by Wakefield Council)
  • Regular updates of progress to exhibition manager
  • Delivery of one supporting event for an Artwalk.  5pm – 8pm 29 July 2015, 30 September or 25 November (date to be confirmed)

Content, graphic design and display techniques to be signed off by Wakefield Council museum team.

How to apply:

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the atrium commission please provide the following information:
  • An outline of your idea, and how it relates to ‘150 Nightingales or 150 Birds in Waterton’s Life’.  Please include an image / sketch of your proposal may look in the space.
  • A breakdown of budget (including a clear indication of your fee).
  • A delivery timeline, featuring key dates for, text writing, graphic design and production, installation
  • A list of sub-contractors and or suppliers used to deliver the brief
  • Outline of what you would deliver at the Artwalk event.

Email to  by 5pm on Tuesday 7 April.  [Selections will take place by 13 April 2015. Display to be in place week commencing 20 June 2015]

If you require further information about the project please contact Maya Harrison,, 01924 305350.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Arts Council England funding of £111K secured for Wakefield Museums

Wakefield Council Museums have been successful in securing funding of £111,140 from Arts Council England.  This funding will enable the district's museums to deliver an exciting programme of exhibitions and activity over the next year.

This funding will focus on improving the visitors experience across our museum venues and includes projects such as:

- improving family activities
- reviewing  our 'welcome'
- a spectacular exhibition at Wakefield Museum 
- a project collecting & displaying Wakefield Stories 
- investment in staff training and development
- involving more people in our changing displays

Cllr Les Shaw, Portfollio Holder for Sport & Culture said, ‘This is a fantastic boost for our museums, and more importantly for our visitors. This programme will enable us to build in long-lasting improvements to our offer, giving visitors more access to museum collections.’

Sarah Maxfield, Area Director, North, Arts Council England, said: ‘“Our Museums resilience fund supports museums by enabling them to become more sustainable and robust, whatever their size, and helping them to offer improved experiences for both audiences and artists. I’m delighted that 27 museums across the North have been awarded a total of £3.7 million in this round and look forward to seeing the results of this funding in the future. The Arts Council’s aim is to achieve great art and culture for everyone – the North has some fantastic museums across the area which between them reach thousands of visitors each year therefore greatly supporting us in our mission. ”

Keep up to date with developments by following us on Twitter @WFMuseums, and this blog!