Black Forest Organ Clock

The Black Forest Organ Clock is located in our Picture Gallery at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery. It is a lovely mid nineteenth century clock which originally came from Bavaria, a southeastern state in Germany. It was bought and renovated by local man, Fred Hogg, who was the mill manager of Nuneaton Timber Company until 1956. The clock was donated to the Museum in 1962 and was restored to working order in 2015.

Yesterday, we were visited by a clock restorer who has carefully taken away part of the clock for further conservation work. He will be restoring a small part of the mechanism to enable the chimes to run correctly in time with the clock.

Black Forest Organ Clock conservation

 

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Celebrating Summer

Sunny days settle in as summer approaches…

Our next Hands on History session on Saturday 15th June is all about summer, a celebration of its pleasures.

 

Hand painted fan

 

This hand-painted paper fan is among the summertime objects gathered from our collections to share with visitors. As an admirer of the beauty and delicacy of fans, I particularly love this object with its burst of candy-pink flowers surrounding a scene depicting a house nestled within tall trees; white birds gliding above.

 

Detail

 

Folding fans were produced throughout Europe during the eighteenth century. Whilst The East India Companies of Holland, France and England also imported increasing numbers of fans from the Far East, of which this one from our collections might be an example.

Join our Access Assistants on Saturday 15th June for a celebration of summer from 11 am until 4 pm.

 

 

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New Pop-Up Museum Display!

Today we are excited to be installing our new display in the Pop-Up Museum in Nuneaton Town Hall.

The exhibit gives a snap-shot of Bramcote’s long association with the Armed Forces. Bramcote is located 4 miles south-east of Nuneaton. The Air Force, Army and even the Navy have all been based here at various times! Today, Gamecock Barracks is the home to the 30 Signal Regiment, including the Queen’s Gurkha Signals contingent.

The new Pop-Up Museum display marks Armed Forces Day which is celebrated across the UK in recognition of all the Armed Forces. This year it is on 29th June. Our borough has a large Armed Forces community, from currently serving troops to service families, veterans and cadets.

 

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Tea in Miniature

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Doll’s Tea Set

 

This ceramic tea set is soon to appear in ‘Life in Miniature’, our Hands on History session on Saturday 20th April. The small-scale tea set was donated to Nuneaton Museum by someone who grew up in Bull Street in Attleborough. At the donor’s childhood home in the early 1930s, the little tea set was kept in a cupboard and brought out only occasionally for careful playing.

 

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Miniature sugar bowl, teapot and cream jug

 

Mini tea sets such as this one are often called doll’s tea sets or toy tea sets. Given to girls as precious gifts, doll’s tea sets were usually reserved to be played with on special occasions under parental supervision as reflected in the donor’s experience.

 

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Six little tea plates

 

The tea set consists of six plates, six cups and saucers, a teapot, cream jug and sugar bowl with a floral design in pink, green and blue. The ceramic has a lustre glaze. Faience is a type of fine tin glazed pottery that, during the nineteenth century was predominantly produced in England and France. Scientific and technical advancements in faience and porcelain manufacture in nineteenth century Europe broadened the scope of their use. Faience and porcelain began to be used to make toys including doll’s tea sets and other doll’s accessories.

 

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‘Foreign’ mark

 

Each piece of the tea set is marked ‘Foreign’ indicating that it was not produced in England but imported from another country. It was not until 1923, that imported goods were required by law to be marked as made in their country of origin such as ‘Made in England’ or ‘Made in China’.

 

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Tiny tea cup

 

Just as the doll’s tea set was hidden away for its protection in a cupboard in the donor’s childhood home and brought out only occasionally, it has been kept in our museum store for preservation but will be brought out for the special occasion of ‘Life in Miniature’ this Saturday 20th April from 11 am – 4 pm in the Picture Gallery.

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Art UK spotlights sculpture

Today we are welcoming Art UK to Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery! They have come to photograph some of the sculptures in our collection for the Art UK Sculpture Project. This major new project aims to catalogue and make available on-line the UK’s national sculpture collection – around 170,000 sculptures from inside public collections and outdoors in the nation’s streets and squares.

Over the last few months, we have been compiling a detailed spreadsheet of all our sculpture – over 100 items in total! Some are from our art collection, while others are classified as social history or ethnography.

This morning, I have been busy in our museum stores. I have been moving boxes, opening lids and getting out lots of wonderful sculptural pieces for the sculpture team to photograph. The project is a great way to make some of the objects that we don’t have room to display in our permanent galleries more accessible to the public.

One of the highlights for me was this wonderful African carved female head.

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The photographer had to go up a ladder to photograph this sculpture, ‘David’, by John Letts!

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Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery’s sculptures will be uploaded soon onto the Art UK website. Check it out at: http://www.artuk.org.

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Bead Society of Great Britain

We are delighted that the ‘Bead Society of Great Britain’ has published an article about one of our museum objects in the latest edition of its Journal!

The object is a wonderful Native American beaded shirt that we hold in our Ethnographic collections. A specialist researcher came to view the garment in August 2018 and he has now written a fascinating piece about the shirt, which has added detail to our knowledge about the garment and its origins.

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The shirt is made from antelope hide. It dates from about 1885 and is probably associated with one of the Plains people groups who settled in one of two reservations in northern Montana, United States, in the late nineteenth century. The shoulders and arms of the shirt have been stitched with panels of brightly coloured beads. These beaded designs include ‘feather and bar’ motifs, stylised hands and four-branch crosses – all of which were common Plains people motifs. The hand motifs are thought to represent the wearer’s coups (military honours) in battle. In traditional Plains culture, a man would earn respect by touching the enemy with his bare hands rather than with a weapon such as a lance.

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Green!

A curious collection of objects awaits you at this month’s Hands on History session on the 16th of March! In light of our own efforts to enhance our sustainability and in anticipation of St Patrick’s Day, we’re going green with objects from around the world and across time brought together by their green hue. Hopefully you’ll not go green with envy or green around the gills when you join us for a look at some of our intriguing collection.

Today though, I’d like to focus a bit more on one of the objects coming out for the session, a Roman glass bottle from the first century AD. Though it may not look particularly fancy, it is just this fact that makes it so interesting! You see, working with glass is old, but was to a large extent based around the production of high value luxury goods like beads or thick-walled containers. However, a new development in glass-working was developed in the first century BC. Glassblowing.

With a slightly different recipe, molten glass could be set at the end of a pipe and blown into, forming a thin-walled bulb which could be further shaped by the blower. This lead to faster, easier, and finer production. Before this, glass was either formed in chunks and carefully hammered down into pleasing shapes, cast into thick shapes, or poured in patterns while in a semi-molten state. This new technique made glass products more useful and cheaper to produce. Coinciding with Roman domination of the Mediterranean, particular the East where this process was developed, the practice of glassblowing spread readily affordable glass across the new empire as vessels, tableware, and decorations. Glass became the plastic of its day!

Our example here is one of those affordable pieces. The green colour of this piece is the natural for glass. It comes from traces of Iron. Clear or near transparent glass, developed only a little earlier than glassblowing, required extra materials to make the colour from the Iron weaker. Other colours, like blue, red, or purple, required other components to produce and were thus more valuable.

Glass soon found its way into almost every part of daily life, from morning rituals to markets to dinner. Our piece was possibly used to store and transport oil, which may very well be how it ended up here. Romans on campaign or stationed at the edges of the empire still desired the comforts of home. Large quantities of oils and other goods were shipped to where the soldiers were.

Interestingly, this isn’t too different to what we have today. We still go to the store and buy ourselves bottles of oil and these are still often made of glass (or else plastic made to look like glass). While our bottle may not take centre stage as a work of fine art, it is a testament to our ingenuity, creativity, and practicality and can tell us much about how people lived in the past and continue to today.

This is just one of many green objects we will have available for you to engage with, hands on, and each of them have their own stories to tell.

 

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