A Bug’s Life

The team at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery recently welcomed Jane Thompson-Webb from Birmingham Museums. She was checking out our knowledge of what sort of insects can damage collections.

In caring for the varied collections we have it is vital that we can quickly spot any evidence of pest damage, identify who the culprit is and do something about it quickly!

On your visit to the Museum you may notice little cardboard devices on the floor of our galleries. These are pest traps and are excellent for capturing Carpet Beetle larvae and Silverfish which can do damage to collections over time.

Destructive pests aren’t just attracted to museum collections either. When you are shaking out that winter coat from your wardrobe it might be worth just checking that a Clothes Moth hasn’t taken up residence!


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Our Art School Reunion – Memories from the Common Room

Our Nuneaton Art School Reunion event was a  heartwarming success. Former students fondly reminisced about their days at the Art School over cups of tea and broken biscuits in our pop-up Common Room whilst listening to the 1960s and 70s music of their student days.

Former students reminiscing about their Nuneaton Art School days


The Common Room was a regular hang-out at the Art School with a record player in situ. One pupil recalls taking in some rock n roll 78s which ‘went down very well until someone sat on them and broke the lot’. Another student remembers one of her Art School friends playing his guitar in the Common Room during breaks in between lessons.

The social side of Nuneaton Art School life, the friendships made and the fun had was very important to the students. At our event this was clear to see as old classmates greeted each other with hugs, chatted and laughed together and happily recalled their teachers, friends, the subjects they studied and apparently, ‘lots of romances and intrigue’!


Recalling Nuneaton Art School memories


For those happy to share their memories on camera for posterity, our museum kitchen became a mini film studio for the event. George Ratcliffe and David Cox, glad to be reunited, studied together during the Art School’s last year at Nuneaton Museum and chose to be filmed discussing their memories of that time together. David expressed how lively and inspiring the atmosphere of the Nuneaton Art School was.


Former Nuneaton Art School students David Cox and George Ratcliffe reunited


Work created at Nuneaton Art School was shared at the Reunion. Margaret Keeley’s beautiful watercolours were displayed in the Common Room as well as detailed pencil sketches by George Ratcliffe. Margaret also brought in some pieces of pottery she made at the Art School including a cleverly designed spice jar. David Cox shared one of his sketch books, filled with wonderful studies in various media and a portfolio displaying advertisements he created during his career in advertising.


Former Nuneaton Art School student Margaret Keeley with her painting and pottery



A study of Nuneaton Train Station from David Cox’s sketchbook


Our Reunion attendees also had the opportunity to flex their creativity with our artist led workshop in the Picture Gallery. It was great to see a group of former Art School students together again, making collages.


Former Nuneaton Art School students participating in our artist led collage making workshop


Rosalind Holmes expressed how appreciative she was of the broadening of knowledge she experienced during her ‘two short years’ at the Art School, which along with painting, drawing and sculpture encompassed costume life, natural form, dress, the history of art and architecture, jewellery making and even welding! Rosalind also recalled outdoor sketching in the grounds of Caldecote Hall and along the canal in winter. One of the oil paintings she made from those canal-side sketches went on to win First Prize in the Nuneaton Festival of Arts.

It was an honour to reunite former Nuneaton Art School students at the museum, to share in their memories of the Art School and to gather further history on the different ways in which the Nuneaton Museum building has served the community throughout the past 100 years.

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Museum Explorer Packs launched for Under 5s!

After six months of testing, Museum Explorers are here!

If you know young children who enjoy making faces, finding stories and discovering sounds, our Museum Explorer packs are a must!

In December last year the Museum and Art Gallery was selected for funding by Warwickshire Smart Start to develop a project to benefit young, their parents and carers.  Museum Explorers was the result, a new activity created specifically for children under five years old.

Working in partnership with Nuneaton Group Children’s Centres, the Warwickshire Community Development Officer and local parents and children, we looked at creating  activities that could be developed to help pre- school age children to become ‘school ready’. This is an emphasis on fun ways to promote listening, exploring, sharing and numeracy skills, whilst also discovering the Museum’s galleries and exhibits. 

Using our innovative ‘Scratch’ approach, the Museum team, including Museum volunteer Steph Broughton, repeatedly tested and evaluated different ideas, methods and resources alongside staff, parents and children from local Early Years Centres. This provided invaluable information in the final design and content of the activities within the pack.

We hope you enjoy them! Don’t forget to claim a free Museum Explorer badge and let us know what you think.

Museum Explorer bags can be borrowed free from Museum reception on deposit of a suitable piece of personal identification.



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Nuneaton Art School Reminiscence Café

On Sunday 10 September, we held a Reminiscence Café for former students of Nuneaton Art School, in preparation for our Art School Reunion on 12 October.

The Café gave former students an opportunity to meet, share their art work and exchange memories. We created a display of objects from our collections to evoke memories of the Art School.


Watercolour set, inkwell, drawing ink and drawing implements


Etchings by Miles Sharp, former Nuneaton Art School Art Master


Included in our display were beautiful art works by Nuneaton Art School Art Master, Miles Sharp and former pupil, George Ratcliffe.


Former Art School student David admiring sketches by George Ratcliffe, who he remembers from his time at the Art School


The Art School was based at the museum from 1923 – 1939 and from 1946 – 1961. One former student, who joined us for the Café, recalls that he attended the Art School during its last year at Nuneaton Museum from 1960 – 1961. Yet he initially attended Saturday classes in technical drawing at the museum from age fourteen. It was very interesting talking to him and discovering that during his time at the Art School, Life Drawing was held in our current Picture Gallery, the George Eliot Gallery was the Printing Room and Graphic Design courses were held in the space that is now our Local History Gallery.

Former students who joined us for the Café told us of the impressive creative careers they developed following their studies at Nuneaton Art School. Several students went on to study at Coventry College of Art, after completing the foundation course at Nuneaton Art School; and subsequently worked in the creative industries including publishing, advertising, textile design and fashion.


Carol and Margaret appreciate paintings in Margaret’s portfolio, which she shared with us at the Café


Each student credited Nuneaton Art School with having given them a comprehensive grounding in a wide range of artistic practices. Areas explored during their studies in Nuneaton included painting, life drawing, pottery, graphic design, 3D modelling, printing, photography, lithographic printing, silkscreen printing and silversmithing.


Former Art School students share their memories of former teachers, social occasions and fellow pupils at the Café


We really enjoyed meeting everyone who attended our Reminiscence Café and listening to their experiences of studying at Nuneaton Art School. Having gathered lots of fond and appreciative memories, we are excited to meet more former Art School students at the Art School Reunion on 12 October.

Former students can take part in an exciting afternoon of reminiscence and creative activities on Thursday 12 October between 1pm – 4pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Celebrating Volunteers

One of our long standing volunteers, Steph Broughton, was nominated as a finalist in the West Midlands Museums Volunteer Awards 2017. In a fabulous presentation ceremony at The Hippodrome, Birmingham, we met up with many other volunteers, all of whom spend many hours of their own time helping to make museums in the West Midlands amazing places to visit. Steph started volunteering with us in 2011 and has given us many hours of her time working on projects, developing initiatives and also baking and bringing in some tremendous cakes!

Congratulations Steph and thank you for all that you do!

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Women’s Land Army remembered

Our Lunchtime Talk on Friday 8 September was led by fabulous costume historian Jane Arnold. Performing to a maximum capacity audience she brought with her uniforms and equipment as used by wartime Landgirls who helped keep the nation fed during the Second World War . We were also honoured and privileged to be joined by two ex Landgirls, Doreen Angus and Mary Row, who were delighted to share their memories of working on the Home Front. The efforts of the Womens Land Army were vital to the survival of this country during those dark times and we owe them all a debt of gratitude. Well done ladies!

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Sound of Music

Join us on Saturday September 16th for a Hand on History session that will bring music to your ears. Our Access Assistants will share with you musical instruments from around the world that form part of the museums collection, including a Nepalese Murchunge, a Tibetan singing bell & a Bamboo Nasal Flute from Borneo. Find out how each instrument was played and for what occasion; celebration, commemoration or personal enjoyment, whilst having the opportunity to listen to the sound they would have made.

One of the objects we will showcase is this beautiful copper and silver horn. Originating from Tibet, the horn is known as a Dungchen and is played by Monks during specific prayer ceremonies, where individuals ask Buddha for help, guidance or blessing.


The horn is usually played in pairs, sometimes performing ritual music alongside other instruments, including smaller horns, drums and double reeds.

Many describe the sound of the Dungchen like the dull moo of a cow, which can be heard over a great distance once played.

Varying in size they can reach over three metres in length, with this particular example being 1 metre and 67cm long. The instrument is made up of several sections that extend for playing and are pushed back together afterwards to aid storage and transportation.

Our Access Assistants look forward to sharing these beautiful instruments will you from 11am – 4pm in the Picture Gallery.

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