Derbyshire, A Place for Poetry and Politics

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

This week’s blog has been written by Lorna Ormiston, a history undergraduate from Sheffield University who specialises in the 17th and 18th century.

During my four week placement at Buxton Museum, I had the opportunity to handle both Thomas Hobbes’ and Charles Cotton’s poems on the “wonders” surrounding Derbyshire.

hobbes coverThomas Hobbes’ poem De mirabilibus pecci, which was first published in Latin in 1636 and then published later in English, is a celebration of what Hobbes referred to as the seven wonders of Derbyshire.[i] These wonders included: Chatsworth House, Tideswell’s Ebbing and Flowing Stream, Mam Tor, Peak Cavern, Poole’s Cavern, St Ann’s Well in Buxton and Eldon Hole in Peak Forest.[ii]  Whilst, photographing the topographical poem for the museum’s historical records, it was clear that Hobbes’ recognition of Derbyshire was in part motivated by Hobbes wanting to bolster his reputation. Unbeknownst to Hobbes, Hobbes later becomes well-known for…

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Gondwanaland

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Volunteer archivist Ian Gregory poses another meditative inquiry:

I have, whilst working at Buxton Museum, catalogued a map of a continent that no longer exists. The geologists call it Gondwana or Gondwanaland, and most of the present day southern landmasses were once part of it. It broke up gradually but the process began about 200 million years ago.

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Seeing this map on a plate for a slide reminded me of how hard it can be for new ideas to be accepted. The theory of continental drift, of which Gondwanaland is a crucial part, was first proposed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener but few people took it seriously. In 1957, Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen published a map of the sea floor of the Atlantic Ocean and it showed the sea floor gradually spreading out from underwater volcanoes in the middle of said ocean. For the first time, scientists knew of…

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The new Buxton Museum shop

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

The recent renovation at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery gave us chance to review all aspects of our service including the gift shop. These days, most museums and art galleries have really great shops where you can purchase souvenirs that reflect the unique character of the place, as well as raise some revenue. Funded by the Arts Council and guided by retail expert Polly Redman, we decided to embark on an enterprise of our own.

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I started by collecting an assortment of images from the collections and asked my colleagues which ones appealed to them from a retail perspective. Our marketing advisor, Jen Francis, quickly pointed out that what the museum staff liked might be different from what the majority of the public liked, which was a good point; we can be a bit geeky! Most of the team agreed that we could not go wrong with the museum bear…

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Time for a bit of Spring Cleaning

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

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With the reopening of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery close on the horizon, the time has come to dust the cobwebs off the collection so that it can match the rest of the new shiny gallery.


I have been working closely with the museum’s bone material. In the picture above you can see that some of the pieces – like this hyena jaw bone discovered in Elderbush cave – were in definite need of a little TLC after being displayed for so many years in the old gallery. So, adorned with a set of brushes and little pieces of rubber sponge I began the task of patiently dabbing, wiping and brushing away the years to breathe new life into each of the bone objects.


Below you can see the after shot of my work, and evidently
a little bit of spring cleaning really does make all the difference!


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Jasmine Barnfather…

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Easter Eggs-hibits at Buxton Museum

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Museums commonly deal with old things and creatures that have long shuffled off the mortal coil. You would not immediately associate them with a holiday like Easter which celebrates new life. However, among the collections at Buxton Museum, there are a few peculiar eggs; traditional symbols at this time of year. We thought we would share some of them with you while we are closed for renovation.

Eggs made from rock, minerals and gemstones were popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. We can only speculate why. With no internet, the people of these eras had to resort to talking to each other so perhaps such novelties inspired cheerful conversation. Indeed, Buxton Museum still sells quite a lot of colourful marble eggs in its gift shop. They look pretty and feel pleasingly tactile in the palm of your hand.

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This egg has been crafted from the local rare mineral called…

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Fin Cop Hillfort Derbyshire, Scene of an Iron Age Massacre

Fin Cop Hillfort Derbyshire, Scene of an Iron Age Massacre

What inspiration did the project artists find at Fin Cop?

Kidology - Artists in the Landscape

Our artists residency at Buxton museum has led us to some beautiful places out in the Derbyshire landscape but Fin Cop hill fort in Mensal Dale, Derbyshire, holds a special place in our hearts.

On a very misty morning last Friday we, together with ceramicist Caroline Chouler-Tissier and storyteller Gordon Maclellan were lucky enough to be able to walk along the ramparts with the Project Manager of the recent hill fort excavations and local historian, Ann Hall.

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We will all be making a piece of art work inspired by the hill fort which will be shown in the new museum galleries later this year.

On the hike to the top of the hill, which was beautiful yet challenging, we gained an insight into the historical importance of the site as a whole as Ann pointed out other possible barrow sites on the way up. We took the following picture on a previous…

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