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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Warwickshire Young Carers become Museum Curators!



A group of 13 to 17 year olds have been working with the collections at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery to create their very  own exhibition.

Since the beginning of July, four Young Carers have been working ‘behind the scenes’ exploring and researching in the Museum stores to create their own exhibition in our Community Showcase. They’ve also been learning some important curatorial skills such as how to handle objects in the Museum stores, searching databases and how to care for different types of artefacts. Each participant has made a personal choice about the object they wish to display. Many of the objects chosen reflect personal interests, family history or inspiration and curiosity.

Lindsey Wood is a Warwickshire Young Carer’s Project Worker running a fortnightly group for Young Carers in Nuneaton at St Nicholas Church. There, Young Carers aged 12 and over get the opportunity to meet and socialise with other Young Carers living in the area, do arts and crafts, play games, relax, cook, and chat to support workers. She outlined the value of a project like this;

‘The Warwickshire Young Carers Project is a charity offering support to Young Carers under the age of 25 who help to look after someone at home. This could be a parent, grandparent or sibling who has a long-term illness, disability, a mental health illness or struggling with addiction. All the participants in this project have really enjoyed it. I think handling museum objects and working in the places which are off limits to most visitors added a real level of excitement! Having the freedom to choose, research and display their own choice of object to visitors has certainly developed their personal levels of confidence and given them a great deal of pride.’

Visitors to the Museum can see this unique exhibition in the Community Showcase until December.

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Making Fun!

If you’ve wondered who has designed our wonderful children’s make & take activities over the summer holidays, we can now reveal all!

Liz Ashford is one of our regular team of volunteers and a graduate in graphic design. She has been developing her skills by creating some wonderful activities for our younger visitors to enjoy. Judging by the number of participants we’ve had this summer they have been very well recieved!

We still have one more week of free summer activities for children to enjoy.  Join us next week from Tuesday 29 August to Thursday 31 August. Activities run from  10:30am to 3:30pm each day.

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Volunteer Steph is a finalist at the West Midlands Volunteer Awards!

Volunteer Steph is a finalist in the Special Award: Audiences category.

Last week we were thrilled to learn that museum volunteer Steph is a finalist at the West Midlands Volunteer Awards.

Steph is a finalist in the Special Award: Audiences category in recognition of the work she has done to develop exciting new ways for children to discover the museum’s collection.

In the last year this has included creating a digital audio tour from the perspective of the museum’s founder, Edward Melly’s dog, Tootles. You may have seen Tootles’ paw prints around the museum! The project was funded by the West Midlands Museum Development Programme and involved getting to grips with some innovative and at time challenging technology.

Testing our new under 5s resource pack.

Steph is currently working on a new resource to help children under 5 to develop the skills they need to start school. When completed the pack will use the museum buildings and displays to develop children’s listening, participation and social skills. It will support them in getting ready to take the important next step in their lives. Steph is working closely with nursery and family groups to test ideas and use their feedback to develop the pack. The project is supported by Warwickshire County Council’s Smart Start funding and has seen Steph show incredible empathy and imagination to create this special resource.

Our museum volunteers do amazing work, often behind the scenes, to support the museum and we want to recognise Steph’s enthusiasm, dedication and willingness to go the extra mile to develop new experiences for the Museum’s visitors.

The winners will be announced at a special ceremony on Tuesday 19th September and we will keep you up to date with the results.

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