Curator's report to the Friends of Ceredigion Museum, November 2008
Loreli Lansley resigned as secretary in December, 2007 and was replaced by Sheevaun Johnson.
I would like to thank all the staff for their work this year, especially their extra work during the period when the attendant was off sick recently.
I would also like to thank all the volunteers, especially Orian Hopkin who has done so much for the Friends, as well as organising the school handling packs.
We have had substantial cuts in our budget this year and are likely to have more next financial year. It is very difficult to get additional funding for core activities but these will remain our priority.
We have organised an away day for all members of staff and Orian Hopkin to discuss future policy, especially in light of present and anticipated budget cuts.
This will be on 11th November, 2008, when the museum will be closed for the day.
The exhibition about Tabernacl chapel, Aberystwyth, following its destruction in July proved to be very popular. The Rubbish display also attracted a lot of interest and we now have a large collection of plastic carrier bags.
The Welsh costume display was very successful and, in conjunction with the National Library's display (which I also curated), attracted people from all over Wales and beyond. The live Mermaid, who was on display in an aquarium (actually a display case) as part of the Big Draw event was very popular.
Ten temporary exhibitions are planned for 2009 and we will be working in conjunction with other groups on local exhibitions.
Visitor numbers and events
The number of visitors to the Coliseum are slightly down on last year and although visitor spend is up slightly (reflecting a 10% increase in shop prices), the total income is down, and is well below our target income.
A total of 35,010 people visited the Coliseum during normal opening hours and an additional 2176 either came to the museum during the evening or attended one of the 60 talks given by members of museum staff, mostly at other venues.
We organised 2 film showings, 6 performances, 7 openings of exhibitions, 7 workshops, and 2 talks given by artists. 18 other meetings were attended by staff in the evenings either in the Coliseum or elsewhere.
35 schools visited the museum, representing nearly 1000 pupils and a further 15 groups visited the Coliseum either during the day or in the evening.
All the displays in Lampeter, Tregaron, Llanon, Llandysul and New Quay have been open this year with voluntary support. Hanes Aberteifi had to close for building works for a month and then re-opened with free access to the displays (they previously charged £2 per adult). There was a local history exhibition in Llanfair Clydogau which we helped with by lending display cases.
There was an exhibition in Aberaeron again this year which attracted over 1200 visitors in 5 weeks (only open 5 days a week). The new group there (Cymdeithas Aberaeron) want to make the exhibition permanent.
The web site.
More pages have been added to the web site which now has a better search tool.
Rationalisation of the collections
We are beginning to seriously consider the disposal of a few items from our collection. We will be following strict guidelines established by the Museums Association and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, as well as our own Collections and Disposals Policy which requires us to offer items that we do not need to other museums before seeking other methods of disposal. We now have a number of duplicate items in the collection, some of which were purchased before better examples were given. We also have sufficient duplicates of some smaller items to enable us to make very well considered decisions about which we should keep and which could be disposed of while retaining good, truly representative collections.
This is a very difficult issue which is being considered by many museums in Britain. We have no intention of disposing of significant local historical items. Most visitors and existing and potential donors understand the need for this.
Amongst recent acquisitions are works of art by Mabel Pakenham-Walsh kindly donated by herself; Eric Carson's County Council Clerk's wig and gown; (Eric was a former president of the Friends) and a collection of photographs of the Davies family, the photographers and musicians of Pier Street, Aberystwyth by the executors of Vi Davies (a former secretary of the Friends).