Our first object of the month is this lovely taxidermy of a female Huia bird (Z.00270).
Pupils taking part in the Big School Birdwatch this month are very unlikely to see a Huia, as they have only ever been found on the North Island of New Zealand. Even our kiwi followers will be hard pressed to see this bird outside their window, because they are thought to have gone extinct around 50 to 100 years ago.
To those in the know, it’s easy to tell this specimen is a female. That’s because Huia birds had the greatest variation in beak shape between the male and female, of any bird species in the world! As our Huia demonstrates, the female had a long, slim, downward curving beak. Meanwhile males had a much shorter and more robust beak. This variation between the male and female is known as sexual dimorphism. It is a topic which former Shrewsbury resident Charles Darwin discusses in his works on evolution. You can find out more about Darwin in the Shropshire Gallery.
Fossils show that Huia originally lived across pretty much all of New Zealand’s North Island. However, from around the 14th Century their range began to shrink and the Huia disappeared from the west. This was caused by the arrival of the Maori and later European settlers. Both groups hunted the Huia and cleared the forest it lived in, to make way for things like agriculture.
In Maori culture, Huia were considered sacred, and the wearing of their skin and feathers was reserved for those of high status. This is why during the Duke and Duchess of York’s visit to New Zealand in 1901, a Huia feather was placed in the Duke’s hat as a token of respect. The wearing of a Huia feather in your hat then became very fashionable in both New Zealand and England. Hunting of the Huia increased to meet the demand of the fashion market and as a result the Huia population shrank.
As the Huia became rarer, their skins and feathers became ever more valuable, and collectors and museums were very keen to get specimens before they disappeared completely. Our taxidermy of a Huia was purchased at auction in the mid-20th Century by former curator of Ludlow Museum, John Norton. We don’t know when, where or why the specimen was originally collected, but it seems likely that it was taken to add to a private collection at a time when Huia were at risk of extinction.
This Huia isn’t the only bird we have in the collection that is thought to have gone extinct due to human factors. Also on display at SM&AG are a Passenger Pigeon and even a Great Auk (sort of…).
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery will be open over the Christmas holidays giving you the perfect place to take family and friends who are visiting. Our opening days and hours are:
Normal opening hours until Sunday 23 December 2018
Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Open Thursday 27 – Sunday 30 December from 11am – 3pm
Closed Monday 31 December 2018 and New Years Day
Open as normal from Wednesday 2 January 2019.
We hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Take a step back in time and a giant stride into the future to learn more about Shrewsbury’s Quarry on Sunday 18 November 2018 as part of a UK-wide festival of humanities.
Co-organised by Dr Liz Oakley-Brown (Senior Lecturer in English Literature) and Dr Anna Mackenzie (Deputy Head of Events) of Lancaster University, with independent Shrewsbury researcher Advolly Richmond and artist Jamila Walker, the day will include free interactive talks, a guided walk, and creative activities at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and on site at The Quarry.
The Being Human Festival of the Humanities runs each year, celebrating on-going research and events within the humanities and supporting free events across the country to attract a public audience. As part of this Festival, the literary, social and historical past, present and future of Shrewsbury Quarry (now a 29-acre historic park) will be explored through a range of family-friendly activities.
Dr Mackenzie and Dr Oakley-Brown are Early Modernists with research interests in drama performed in what may be seen as non-traditional spaces and are both fans of Shrewsbury itself. Entitled ‘Shrewsbury’s Quarry: Exploring the Past; Imagining the Future’, the day will feature:
Shrewsbury’s Quarry: Origins and Legacy – Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, Vaughan’s Suite, 11:00am to 12:00pm. Booking required.
Delivered by garden historian Advolly Richmond, this illustrated talk considers how the Quarry has functioned as an important social space since the 16th century, and asks how that legacy might be developed for future local communities.
Join Advolly Richmond, a garden historian, on a guided tour of the park, discussing key features on the Quarry. Please meet at the main entrance to the Quarry by the blue gates ready for 1pm.
As with any outdoors activity in November, it is advisable to bring layers and waterproofs. Fingers crossed for a dry day!
Crafting the Quarry – Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, Walker Suite 11:30am to 2:30pm. No booking required, but room capacity is limited.
A family-friendly drop in print making session with visual artist Jamila Walker, using natural found objects from the Quarry. Open to all ages and all children must be accompanied. No artistic skills required.
Playing the Quarry in Shakespeare’s England – Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, Vaughan’s Suite 2:30pm to 3:30pm. Booking required.
A little known fact about the Quarry is its references within literature. This is an informal workshop about the Quarry’s hidden theatrical and literary past with Dr Anna Mackenzie and Dr Liz Oakley-Brown. Come and hear about Shrewsbury’s Renaissance theatre scene, and also learn about how space was used both on and with the stage to create drama by Shakespeare and other playwrights.
Fay Bailey, Learning and Communications Manager at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, said:
“We are excited to be working with Lancaster University to deliver a series of talks and activities that encourage people to explore the rich history of The Quarry and Shrewsbury.
“We are working hard to attract families and history lovers to Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery and the town as a whole and being part of the Being Human Festival is a wonderful opportunity for us. We’re all looking forward to welcoming visitors to the Museum and are confident everyone will enjoy their experience with us.”
Dr Anna Mackenzie of Lancaster University, said:
“One of the big appeals of this event is the breadth of activities. We hope that there will be something for everyone, from a guided tour of the Quarry and a talk about Shrewsbury’s Early Modern theatre, to an illustrated talk on the Quarry and print making. We are delighted to link up with Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery on this exciting event.”
Dr Liz Oakley-Brown, also of Lancaster University, added:
“As an aspiring Salopian and an Early Modernist, Shrewsbury has so many draws for me, both personally and for my research.
“We are really looking forward to presenting some new ideas on Shrewsbury and the Quarry’s Renaissance performance spaces. We hope people will come along, enjoy the day and get involved.”
A magic, mystical adventure awaits this October half-term as Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery invites you to celebrate Museums at Night with a host of magical events.
Visitors will have the chance to make a magic wand or witches broom, explore the art of potion making and spell writing, experience magic shows and a host of magical creatures.
At 5pm on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets will be screened on the Balcony giving visitors and their families the perfect museum setting to sit back and relax.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for leisure and culture, said:
“Last year’s Museums are Magic weekend proved to be hugely popular among families so it’s fantastic to see Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery running this event again.
“Museums are Magic offers families a different, but wonderful and interactive way to engage with the Museum and its collections, and this year there will be magical adventures throughout the October half-term week.”
“Last years’ event saw the Museum bustling with magical activity so I would encourage families to pay a visit.”
You can book your tickets for Museums are Magic online here or by popping into the Visitor Information Centre as you enter the Museum.
Following the Museums are Magic weekend, lots of fun magical craft activities will be available every day from Monday 29 October until Sunday 4 November plus a special Halloween Lego® workshop where you can create a spooky castle.
Saturday 27 October – Rob Chapman
Experience marvellous magic shows with magician Rob Chapman at 11am and 2pm (shows last one hour)
Sunday 28 October – Magical Creatures
Magical Creatures with ‘Animal Man’ Simon Airey at 11am and 12pm (shows last one hour)
Monday 29 October – Sunday 4 November
Drop in for magical crafts which will be available every day!
Wednesday 31 October – Lego® Spooky Castles
Join us for a special Halloween LEGO® workshop and create a spooky castle.
LEGO® maestro Rob Spinks from ‘Bricks n’ Tricks’ will guide you through the build and light up your castle at the end of the workshop!
You find more information by clicking here.
In celebration of Heritage Open Days, we are delighted to be offering free entry on Sunday 9 September 2018.
Visitors to the Museum will be able to experience the amazing collections on display that bring over 650 million years of history to life.
As well as free entry, we are thrilled to be offering FREE guided tours of the Museum giving you the opportunity to explore the collections more intimately than ever before. These tours will run at:
- 12pm – 1pm
- 2pm – 3pm
During your visit, you will come face-to-face with some of the best preserved mammoth bones
in the UK, take in one of the UK’s finest fossil collections, experience the Roman Gallery, and relive the voyage in the latest special exhibition, Titanic: Honour and Glory.
Come and discover the stories that make this county unique. Explore millions years of history through a thousand remarkable objects in the extraordinary set of buildings that house Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. From a medieval town house to an early Victorian Music Hall they span more than 750 years of history.
During your visit, you can also visit stop. café bar, the Museum’s vibrant café bar, which provides the perfect spot for relaxing after visiting the Museum’s galleries or taking a break from taking in the town of Shrewsbury.
Heritage Open Days is the largest heritage festival in the country; in 2015, over 4,800 events welcomed around three million visitors across England.
Heritage Open Days operates as part of the National Trust with funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
NOTE: Participation on the guided tours will be on a first come, first serve basis.
On Thursday 8 November 2018, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery are delighted to be showing ‘The Burying Party’ and ‘A Long Way Home’ as part of the Wilfred Owen 100 Film Festival.
This exciting double bill includes a Q&A session with the film makers chaired by Carl Hone, BBC Shropshire film reviewer.
The programme starts at 5pm and is expected to last about 3 hours. Refreshments will be available at Stop Café on the ground floor of the Museum & Art Gallery before the performance. There will be a short break between the two films.
Tickets: £9 (age 15+) plus booking fee. Click here to book your tickets.
‘The Burying Party’ (12A advisory, 2018, UK, director Richard Weston)
October 1918, the final month of World War I. Beginning with the extraordinary victory at Joncourt, war poet Wilfred Owen looks back on the final year of his life as the Manchesters march toward Sambre, a battle which will likely wipe out his entire regiment.
Looking back to Summer 1917, Owen remembers his admission to Craiglockhart Hospital due to shellshock, which led to the unlikely meeting with his literary idol Siegfried Sassoon. They begin a remarkable friendship that sees him introduce him to some of the most influential literary figures of his generation.
No longer a struggling poet, but convalescing with his contemporaries, Owen spends many spectacular bohemian days and nights in London. He forms a relationship with Charles Scott Moncrieff and is constantly reminded of the company’s incredible war records and experiences and decides to return to the front line.
While Owen approaches Sambre, he remembers his final goodbyes with his closest friends and loved ones as they edge closer to the monstrous anger of the guns, writing home to comfort his mother of his near-certain demise.
‘The Long Way Home’ (15 advisory, 2018, UK, director Jacob Lewis-Taylor), November, 2018
In the aftermath of an horrific gas attack, the remnants of a small Shropshire Battalion, led by Capt. John Hemmingway – the younger son of the estate they all left behind – find themselves trapped on the British front line.
As the German guns fall silent and an impenetrable fog befalls no-man’s land, the final days of the war become a desperate bid for survival as Capt. Hemmingway fights to hold on to what little sanity he has left.
For more information, call 01743 258888 or email [email protected].
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery are offering exciting opportunities to plant, grow, make and eat as part of the Shrewsbury Food Festival in June.
The Museum & Art Gallery have invited Lovelyland (a local social enterprise who inform, educate and inspire community groups and schools about where food comes from) to work with the local community to install an edible community garden at the museum. The garden be open from Saturday 23 June. It will tell fascinating stories about the plants and draw inspiration from the nationally significant Caughley blue and white ceramic collection at the museum.
Members of the public are invited to drop into the courtyard for a seed planting and potting up session with Lovelyland on Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 June from 11am–2pm. These sessions are FREE, appropriate for all ages and all materials will be provided. Participants are welcome to bring their own small ceramic container (for example a tea cup or tea pot) to plant and takeaway or, if they wish, add to the edible garden.
Thank you to everyone who has donated their blue and white china to be included in the edible garden. These may be planted up or incorporated into a new piece made by local mosaic artist Lindsey Kennedy.
During the festival weekend Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery are also hosting workshops with ceramicist and teacher Stephanie Kelly:
- On Saturday 23 June from 10am-12pm, create a textured tile good enough to eat!
Inspired by the edible garden and the museum’s exciting ceramic collection. The workshop is £9 per participant and appropriate for all ages. Under 7s must be accompanied by an adult
- On Saturday 23 June from 1pm-3pm, create a stunning and realistic cauliflower bowl. The workshop is £12 per participant and appropriate for adults and children aged 7+.
Booking is essential for both ceramic workshops. To book your place, please call 01743 258881 / 258888 or email [email protected]. All materials will be provided and your tile or bowl will be fired and made available to collect from the museum at a later date.
As well as these exciting one off opportunities the museum’s resident rodent Maximo Mouse will be leading a fruit and veg trail around the museum from May and June.
The events are part of a series of events aimed at welcoming new visitors to Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
To find out more about Lovelyland and their growing projects visit their website www.lovelyland.co.uk.
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery // The Square // SY1 1LH
Lovelyland and Lindsey Kennedy will use your old crocks as part of a project to transform the courtyard outside stop. cafe at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery into a beautiful sensory garden.
Bring your unwanted china to our museum reception before Monday 11 June! Any donations for use in this project will be non-returnable.
Shropshire Museums’ care for an internationally important collection of blue and white Caughley porcelain.
The Salopian China Manufactory was founded at Caughley, near Broseley in Shropshire by Thomas Turner around 1775. It was one of the most important factories of the late 18th century.
You can see a snapshot of this collection on display in our Shropshire Gallery.
Katherine Plymley was a painter of watercolours focusing mainly on insects. Katherine was 21 years old when her mother died in 1779 and herfather was already 63 years old. Katherine gave up any chance of marriage to look after him.
Unmarried and in her 40’s Katherine began studying and painting remarkable watercolours of insects. Several prominent male entomologists of her time corresponded with her but it was not until her archive was placed on loan with Shropshire Museums and Archives in 1997 that the value of her research was fully appreciated.
Katherine Plymley’s memorial states that “They were women of superior minds which they had educated with great industry and devoted to the service of God. Of their fellow creatures, no persons, perhaps, of equal means, ever contributed more to the comfort of their nearer relatives, or the wants of an extended neighbourhood.”
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Lady Hawyse de Powys (Lady Hawyse of Powis was born on 25 July 1291. This seal matrix shows that she was a lady with a status of her own, able to write and sign documents, just like her husband but unlike most women of her day.
She was known as Hawise Gadarn (the Hardy) as her immediate family died before she reached 18 years old. In 1309, as an heiress but under age she became a ward of her uncles. Because she was a woman, her four her uncles disputed her claim to inherit her father’s property, and sought to split the land between themselves and send her to live out rest of her life in a nunnery.
Hawise travelled to the Parliament of Shrewsbury and petitioned Edward II of England in person. She met with him twice, and on the second occasion he asked her to nominate someone to act on her behalf as the champion of her rights. She named John Charleton, whom she subsequently married. Together with Charleton and a company of English knights, she returned to Powys Castle and successfully defeated her uncles.
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