Discover your inner-artist with abstract painting workshop

Join the winner of the Wilfred Owen Art Competition, Di Purser, for a fun-filled abstract art workshop that will trigger your imagination.

The workshop will be hosted at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery (SM&AG) on Saturday 8 February, 2020 from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

During the workshop you will have the opportunity to create your very own piece of abstract art inspired by the museum collections.

Di will guide you through the process of transforming a lifelike drawing into an abstract painting using inks, paints and acrylic mixes.

An image of Di Purser during one of her creations. Di will be running an abstract painting workshop in at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery in February 2020.

You will explore different techniques, draw from exhibits in the museum galleries and have the chance to get messy and turn your drawings into paintings.

The workshop is running in conjunction with Di’s stunning exhibition at SM&AG – Di Purser: The New Works.

After winning the Wilfred Owen Open Art Competition, Di was invited to create a series of new paintings which will be displayed on the museum balcony.

Di has created over ten stunning new paintings, several of which reflect the collections on display at SM&AG. Her work uses acrylic paint mixes, inks and illustrative features to overlap the past and the present making her the perfect tutor for you in this workshop.

The workshop costs £55 to attend and spaces are limited. To book your place, call 01743 258881 or email [email protected].

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery is owned and managed by Shropshire Council.

About Di Purser

Di was born in Walsall, West Midlands, but spent much of her childhood in Ludlow.

She completed a BA (hons) in Textiles at Loughborough University in 1971 and has had a varied career as both a lecturer, teacher and practitioner.

Di has exhibited widely in the Midlands and Welsh Borders including themed group exhibitions and one man shows. She has interests in Art History, townscapes, landscapes and hill and mountain walking, which is reflected in her work.

Charlie Adlard exhibition attracts thousands

The Drawn of the Dead exhibition proved to be a success at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery (SM&AG), attracting over 10,000 people.

The figures make Drawn of the Dead one of the most visited exhibitions to be hosted at SM&AG.

Drawn of the Dead celebrated the work of the comic artist behind The Walking Dead, Charlie Adlard.

Drawn of the Dead showcased more than 80 of Charlie’s artworks from the Walking Dead, cult French comic Vampire State Building, Code Flesh and White Death as well as his life drawing.

An image of comic art from The Walking Dead by Charlie Adlard.

Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for culture, leisure, communications and waste, said:

We’re thrilled to have had the opportunity to celebrate Charlie’s stunning work in the Drawn of the Dead exhibition and are pleased with its success.

While a large proportion of visitors to this exhibition were families, we were also hoping that this exhibition would help us attract new audiences to the Museum and this has proved to be a success which we are particularly pleased about.

I’d like to thank Charlie for allowing SM&AG to showcase his work and I hope everyone who visited the exhibition thoroughly enjoyed it.

Charlie Adlard, said:

It’s been an absolute honour to have an exhibition on this scale in my home town. I’ve been overjoyed with how it’s turned out and I cannot thank SM&AG enough for all the work they put in to make it a success.

A reduced version of the Drawn of the Dead exhibition will be on display at the Shropshire Museums Collections Centre in Ludlow in February 2020.

Discover more about SM&AG on the website or on social media.

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery is owned and managed by Shropshire Council.

Christmas opening times

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery (SM&AG) is once again to remain open over the Christmas and New Year period for limited hours.

SM&AG will remain open as normal up to Sunday 22 December 2019, after which its Christmas opening hours will come into effect.

Shropshire Council works to keep SM&AG open during the festive season so Shropshire families and their visitors can explore the county’s history and engage with the stories the collections tell.

Christmas opening hours

23 – 26 December 2019 – Closed
27 – 29 December 2019 – OPEN from 11am – 3pm
30 December 2019 – 1 January 2020 – Closed

SM&AG will be open as normal from 2 January 2020.

Lost Shrewsbury exhibition

‘Lost Shrewsbury’ was created in partnership with local author and historian, David Trumper, whose has authored a new book of the same title.

An image in black and white of C. R. Birch & Son which was founded in 1909 and features in David Trumper's latest book, Lost Shrewsbury.

C. R. Birch & Son was founded in 1909

The exhibition will share with visitors the unseen history of Shrewsbury and will take you on a fascinating trip through Shrewsbury’s rich history and heritage with images not seen before.

Lost Shrewsbury will feature 40 slides containing images from the book and will.  All slides will be captioned by David Trumper.

Paintings of the Shrewsbury landscape from SM&AG’s own collection will also feature in the exhibition. Pieces of art included will be a fine painting of the Old Welsh Bridge by Paul Sandby and a view of the English Bridge by C. W. Radclyffe.

For more information about SM&AG’s opening hours, visit the website.

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery is owned and operated by Shropshire Council.

Object of the month – December 2019 – Slave Ship Fetters

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, which aims to raise awareness of the atrocities of modern slavery, falls at the start of December. Accordingly, we’ve selected these Slave Ship Fetters as our object of the month.

An image of slave ship fetters that are the object of the month at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery in recognition of the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Slave Ship Fetters

These wrought iron fetters, which are shackles for the feet, were reputedly worn by slaves on board a slave ship captured by Commander George Kenyon off the west coast of Africa in 1843. However, historic records suggest that the fetters are more likely to have been seized at some point between 1841 and 1843, when Kenyon was serving as a Lieutenant on the ship ‘Madagascar’ under Captain John Foote. During this period, the ‘Madagascar’ captured five slave ships off the coast of west Africa, effecting the release of 1400 black slaves.

George Kenyon was the fourth son of Hon. Thomas Kenyon, of Pradoe, near Shrewsbury. The navel papers of Kenyon (now in Somerset Archive Office) give a most interesting account of the suppression of the slave trade on the African coast between 1842 and 1849. After his time as Lieutenant on the ‘Madagascar’, Kenyon became the Commander of the sloop ‘Cygnet’. Log books for the Cygnet record the arrest of slave ships on 12 December 1848, 26 January 1849, and 22 March 1849.

These fetters were acquired by Shrewsbury Museum in 1921 from members of George Kenyon’s family. Not only do they tell the story of a Shropshire man’s involvement in inhibiting the slave trade, they also serve as a recognisable symbol of historic enslavement. Unfortunately, modern slavery is far more difficult to spot than a set of shackled feet.

Lost Shrewsbury: Book signing at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery

Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery (SM&AG) are inviting you to join local author, David Trumper, for the book signing event of his latest production, Lost Shrewsbury.

The book signing is taking place on Saturday 23 November 2019 from 1.30pm – 3pm and is your chance to meet the author.

An image in black and white of C. R. Birch & Son which was founded in 1909 and features in David Trumper's latest book, Lost Shrewsbury.

C. R. Birch & Son was founded in 1909

Lost Shrewsbury takes you on a fascinating trip through Shrewsbury’s rich history and heritage with over 160 illustrations, some of which have never been seen before.

The book presents a photographic representation of the way life in Shrewsbury has radically changed or disappeared today.  It shows not just the people, street scenes and the industries and buildings that have gone, but also many popular places of entertainment and much more.

Phil Scoggins, interpretation officer at Shropshire Museum’s, said:

“David has an unrivalled knowledge of the life of Shrewsbury and its people over the last century. It is a great pleasure to host images from his fantastic archive and display them alongside lost local scenes depicted in the museum’s own fine collection of paintings.”

Philip Dean, publicity officer at Amberley Publishing, said:

“This fascinating photographic history of lost Shrewsbury will appeal to all those who live in the town or know it well, as well as those who remember it from previous decades.”

The latest title in Amberley’s new Lost towns and cities series, Lost Shrewsbury includes photos of Shrewsbury that have never before been publicly available.

Lost Shrewsbury will also be the feature of a new exhibition at SM&AG which will run from Saturday 23 November 2019 until Monday 12 January 2020.

The exhibition will feature 40 slides of captioned Shrewsbury scenes from David Trumper alongside 15 paintings from the Shropshire Museums collection of the Shrewsbury landscape.

The paperback edition of Lost Shrewsbury will be available to buy from the Visitor Information Centre at SM&AG for £14.99.

Object of the Month – October 2019

October 21st is Reptile Awareness Day. With this in mind our Object of the Month is this weird looking Rhynchosaur Skull fossil.

An image of a rhynchosaur skull fossil that is the object of the month at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

Rhynchosaur Skull fossil

Rhynchosaurs, now extinct, were a kind of beaked lizard type reptile which were common 220 million years ago during the middle Triassic Period. They made up an important part of terrestrial faunas before the rise of plant eating dinosaurs near the end of the Triassic. They were about half a meter long and had a narrow, wedge-shaped skull with a few small, blunt teeth and a beak which they used to munch on rough vegetation such as ferns and horsetails.

An image of a rhynchosaur model that is on display in the Geology section at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

Model of how the rhynchosaur might have looked

This rhynchosaur skull fossil is from Grinshill, north of Shrewsbury. Back in the Triassic period this area of Shropshire was a hot desert on a lake margin. The rocks laid down were sand, silt and mudstones. In the late 1700s the sandstone from Grinshill began to be quarried for use in the construction of buildings in the county. This quarrying process uncovered various Triassic plant and animal fossils, including those of rhynchosaurs. Luckily, a member of the Shrewsbury Natural History Society kept a look out for these fossils during the quarrying, and many of the finds made there way eventually into the collection of Shrewsbury Museum in the 1800’s.

This particular specimen is scientifically important because it has been selected as a lectotype for the species. This means that it is the specimen with which other specimens are compared in order to name them as this species. As such, study of this specimen is ongoing. In fact, this spring it was taken for micro-CT scanning in Bristol, so researchers could study the braincase anatomy in more detail. Explore a 3D image of the rhynchosaur skull created by the Fossils in Shropshire project.

An image of the reverse side of the rhynchosaur fossil which is the object of the month at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

Rhynchosaur Skull fossil reverse

There are more rhynchosaur fossils on display in the geology gallery at SM&AG, and many reptile specimens in Shropshire Museums’ collections including turtle shells and a snake preserved in alcohol.

Object of the Month is on display in the Visitor Information Centre and features on our social media feeds:

Object of the Month – September 2019 – Team GB Tracksuit

Shropshire has a strong connection to the Olympics as Much Wenlock is home to the Wenlock Olympian Games, which are thought to have inspired the modern Olympic Games that began in 1896.

It just so happens that National Sporting Heritage Day falls on Monday 30 September, so we thought our object of the month should reflect this. Therefore, we have chosen this Team GB tracksuit worn by archer, Alison Williamson, at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Along with items related to Wenlock Olympian Games we have a several items donated by sports men and women with a connection to the county.

Our object of the month is one of several outfits and items donated to Shropshire Museums by Alison Williamson, who competed in archery for Great Britain at six consecutive Olympic Games, from 1992 to 2012. Williamson’s highest Olympic achievement was winning a bronze medal at the 2004 Games in Athens.

For her services to archery she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours.

This tracksuit, given to Williamson for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, is made up of an Adidas jacket and trousers in the Team GB colours of red, white and blue. A great example of 1990s style, with large bright blocks of colour making it stand out from just any tracksuit is the inclusion of the British flags and Team GB branding. The tracksuit is made from the light weight and durable materials of polyester and nylon.

Williamson is a member the Long Mynd Archers, which is a club based in Church Stretton. There are several historic archery clubs in the county and you might be surprised to know that a great deal of the archers were women. The Archers of the Teme club was in fact founded by Lady Curtis of Caynham Court near Ludlow, in 1857.

Blog: Rosemary Thornes talks about volunteering

I am very interested in SM&AG. I believe that a thriving and forward-looking museum service is important not just for education, culture and recreation, but also for tourism. This is why I volunteer and I would like to tell you about two very different aspects of my volunteering.

An image of a volunteer of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, whose volunteering is invaluable.

Rosemary Thornes

First, I am a member of the Friends of the Museum. There are more than 300 of us and we are here to support the Museum. I am Secretary at the moment and enjoy liaising between the Museum and our members, aiming to keep Friends updated with Museum news and events. The Friends put on a series of lectures at the Museum and arrange visits to historic houses, other museums and exhibitions. We also provide financial support for purchases and programmes.

Second. I am also a volunteer at the Museum. I have been volunteering here for more than five years, ever since the new Museum opened on 1 April 2014. I just do half a day a week, as a Gallery Guide, on Sunday afternoons. The Museum seems to have difficulty finding volunteers for Sundays, perhaps because a lot of us are retired and have family responsibilities at the weekend, but I have settled into this little slot and rarely miss a session. This has one lovely consequence – I find myself working alongside young people, often students from local schools and colleges, such as the Sixth Form College and this is very refreshing. On the other hand, it also means that I do not get to know many other volunteers, unless they also happen to be members of the Friends.

When I started I was a bit doubtful about being a gallery guide. I’m not a natural conversationalist and in previous volunteer jobs I had always undertaken research or something in the back room, which seemed more in my nature. But the Museum provided training and over the years I have become more comfortable approaching visitors and talking to strangers. I think this experience, gained on Sunday afternoons, has improved my confidence in other situations when I might have allowed myself to be isolated.

An image of the Medieval Gallery at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
I am happy working in any part of the Museum but I like the Medieval Gallery best. I especially enjoy it when families come and I take the handling collection from the trolley and get the children to talk about the objects they are holding.

I am now in my late 70s, but am still fit and enjoying new experiences and situations. I admit to having the occasional lapse of memory, but the display posters and excellent notes in the gallery files are there to remind us all of the details. And so I hope to continue volunteering for a few more years.

I would encourage other people to join the Friends and, if they have half a day free, to volunteer. The staff at the Museum have always made me feel an integral part of the system and I feel as though I belong.

Rosemary Thornes, Volunteer and Secretary of the Friends of SM&AG

Volunteers have an invaluable role in enabling us to deliver our workshops, events, education programmes and much more. If you are interested in volunteering with us and joining our wonderful team, click here for more information or you can call (01743) 258885 or email [email protected].


Blog: Volunteering with Mini Mammoths

Back in 2014 when I started looking after my son full time I discovered a fantastic baby and toddler group at Shrewsbury Museum called ‘Mini Mammoths’. It was a wonderful and happy group and had something of an ‘educational’ spin. When my son reached school age we attended what I thought would be our last mini mammoths but then as I was going to be returning to college to work towards becoming a Teaching Assistant (which would involve a placement in a school) I thought volunteering and help out at Mini Mammoths would be a good thing for me to help with my course.

An image of a volunteer with a toddler helping him paint while volunteering during mini mammoths

Dominick Lack volunteering during mini mammoths

So in September 2018 I began as a volunteer at the group and have loved every minute of it. It has tied in very well with the course and I have learnt things in parallel. It is a great group to be part of and I have got to dress up and be silly and also to help out both the parents and the children.

I think it will be a nice addition to my CV and has already been a good talking point at interviews. It will be a shame for my time at mini mammoths to come to an end but I know that I have learnt much and been a happy and friendly helper in a fantastic setting for so many amazing people young and old.

Dominick Lack, Volunteer

Mini Mammoths

Mini Mammoths runs every Friday from 10 – 11.30am during term time. Due to popularity, we recommend booking your place in advance. You can do this by calling 01743 258881 / 258888 or email [email protected].

For more information about Mini Mammoths, click here.

Volunteering with us

Volunteers play an invaluable role in enabling us to deliver our workshops, events, education programmes and much more. If you are interested in volunteering with us and joining our wonderful team, click here for more information or you can call (01743) 258885 or email [email protected].


Object of the Month – June 2019

Butterfly Drawer

It’s Butterfly Education and Awareness Day in June, so our Object of the Month is this drawer of butterflies from a cabinet of specimens collected by John Norton.

Many of the butterflies in this drawer are around 60 years old.  They were collected by John Norton, who was Curator of Ludlow Museum 1959 – 1989.  John was well known in the county as an inspirational Natural Historian and Geologist who did a great deal to interpret and promote the Museum Collections.  In this drawer, John has added small species distribution maps and paintings to illustrate the butterflies and caterpillars, all to increase understanding of these wonderful creatures and the collection.

The cabinet from which this drawer was taken is similar to butterfly cabinets that would have been found in the homes of many middle-class families during the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Victorians believed that the study of natural history contributed to good mental health.  Consequently, during the 19th century, the collection of things like birds, shells, wildflowers and butterflies became very popular hobbies.  As you can imagine, many people capturing and killing plants and animals for their collections had a significant impact on nature and sadly, several species have gone extinct due to this over collecting.

However, the popularity of collecting plants and animals during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries played an important role in building natural history collections.  Many local museums, including those in Shropshire, evolved from private collections and the societies that emerged around the hobby of collecting.  These collections and learned groups were also important in the emergence of professional biological disciplines.

Butterfly collections such as our Object of the Month can be used as a teaching tool and as the basis for research.  Not only can the butterflies be inspected, and changes in species noted through time, but where there is collection location information, variations in population distribution can also be studied.  Unfortunately, none of this can help us conserve and protect the butterflies we have around today.

Luckily, the taste for collecting butterflies has virtually disappeared in the UK.  Instead, butterfly enthusiasts are now being encouraged to collect information and digital images of the creatures to help scientists and conservators keep track of these important pollinators.

There are many wonderful natural history specimens waiting to be discovered in our Shropshire Gallery and even more available for research at Shropshire Museums’ Collections Centre in Ludlow.

Object of the Month is on display in the Visitor Information Centre and features on our social media feeds:

@shrewsmuseum      @shrewsburymuseum      @shrewsburymuseum