10 Facts About Our Museum Collection

1. While our books and archive collections moved in 1988 our Museum items stayed behind in our old building

The museum items stayed in the building which was sold to North Devon District Council for the express purpose of creating a new museum for Barnstaple and North Devon.

2. One of the most iconic images of Barnstaple is part of our collection

The oil painting of Barnstaple is part of our collection. It also happens to be one of our favourite items. You can find out more about the painting and Barnstaple at the time it was commissioned by visiting our blog post Beyond the Library…The 18th Century Snapshot of Barnstaple

3. Our Geological Collection was transferred to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon outright.

The staff of the museum put so much time into accessioning and cataloguing the geological collection it was decided to transfer ownership of the collection to the Museum. This included the fossils of the prehistoric Elephant found in Summerland Street, affectionately known as Barny.

4. As with our other collections, several of our Museum items came from our Barnstaple Literary and Scientific Institute Days.

These include a phrenology head used in a lecture given at the old institution and some other recently discovered relics, such as these Leyden Jars which were used to store high-voltage electric charge.

5. We have an Important Collection of Pewter on Display

We were bequeathed a large collection of pewter by Stanley Thomas on his death in 1974. Out of the 107 items in the collection eighteen were made here in Barnstaple and four in Bideford with several others having been made in Devon and the West of England. Many of the items, especially those made outside the area are not on display and are securely stored away.

Courtesy of the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

6. Many of our items are not on display.

As with most museums only a small part of their collections are on display at any one time. This means many of our items are stored away in the building somewhere. Once the new extension is built and opened (hopefully in summer 2019) some of those items will be able to be displayed again.

7. There is a Large Collection of Pottery in the Collections

Unsurprisingly we have a large collection of pottery on loan with the Museum, including several pieces of Brannam and Fishley Pottery. It’s not all Brannam Pottery though as we have a rather stunning Harvest Jug from 1760 in our collections.

Courtesy of the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

8. There are a Number of Rather Bizarre Items Amongst the Collection

After we moved out of the building in 1988 many of the items we left behind were just accessioned and kept as part of our collection. Amongst some of the more interesting items were a vacuum cleaner, type writer and a collection of empty fish paste jars. (The fish paste jars are still a bit of a mystery!)

9. We still Work Closely with the Museum and Place Items on Temporary Loan for Exhibitions

Since we moved from the old building we’ve maintained strong links with the Museum, regularly loaning items from our other collections for exhibitions. Recent collaborations include the Hatch, Matched and Dispatched exhibition and the World War One exhibitions on the Battle of Dujailah and Holy Lands project.

10. We may have left behind more than our Museum items when we moved!

When the we first opened the Librarians were expected to live on site. Our second librarian, Thomas Wainwright died while he was still in post. Some people believe he never really left, and his ghost keeps an eye on the old place!

Moving Day

Find out more about the Muesuem of Barnstaple and North Devon by visiting their website.

…Barum Athena

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