Ceredigion Museum: Review of 2008
What an exciting year 2008 was for all of us at Ceredigion Museum. If we take a look back over the past twelve months you will see what a wide range of activities, events and displays were on offer through the year. We had a few tricky moments, but as usual we pulled through and are here once again celebrating Christmas and the New Year. How quickly time passes!
The year began with the very popular taxidermy exhibition. We brought together our collection of exotic and domestic animals from the Hutchings family who ran a gunsmith and taxidermy shop in Aberystwyth. Michael published a book about the family to coincide with the display which still sells well in our shop.
In January we also hosted a performance of 'Alice in Wonderland,' performed by third year students from the University Drama Department.
In February the Coliseum was once again used to screen a film. 'The Maltese Falcon' brought back many memories for old time cinema goers. We also staged an exhibition of 'Hidden Treasures' from Margaret Evans' the 'Aberystwyth Yesterday' collection. All members of museum staff chose items to display and explained their choice. This show raised a great deal of publicity featuring on TV, radio and the local press due to the inclusion of Michael's choice of an old ice cream cart.
In March we awarded prizes for our writing competition during World Book Day. Once again we worked with the Ceredigion Library and Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch. Jeremy Turner and Sue Jones-Davies did the honours and read out the winning entries. The theme this year was Myths and Magic of Ceredigion. We had six winners.
March also saw a new display in the Coliseum gallery, the photographic work of Anna Marie Schoone and Tina Carr. Both are well established artist photographers and have worked together for many years. This display was titled, 'Abandoned' and the images showed properties in west Wales that have been neglected and deserted. They spoke about their work at a lunchtime talk and many interesting points were raised during the session.
Sadly in March Professor Bill Dane, an old friend of the museum, died of pneumonia. The 85 year old puppeteer and entertainer, left his collection of about 140 hand puppets, backcloths and booths to the Friends of the Museum. They continue to tour across Britain and are one of our most popular touring displays. Other shows which tour include quilts and old office equipment.
Working as a team again we put together a display about rubbish and recycling called 'Rubbish'. During the exhibition Adrian Keenan, waste management officer for Ceredigion County Council, came in once a week to meet the public and answer questions. There was also a free fashion show themed on recycled clothes, but with a contemporary twist. During Adult Learners Week we held workshops in the art of recycling rubber from inner tubes, tin cans and plastic bags.
Also in May we housed a new display in the Coliseum Gallery of the contemporary painter Harry Jepson. Mary Lloyd-Jones opened the exhibition and Harry gave a very informative lunch time talk later in the month about his inspiration and working methods.
The highlight exhibition of 2008 was undoubtedly the Welsh Costume display which appeared both at Ceredigion Museum and the National Library of Wales. Michael had worked for over three years researching for these two shows and the resulting displays attracted a great deal of attention. With enough shawls and betgwns to sink Jemima Nicholas this was indeed a very colourful and attractive display.
'The Wardens', our local amateur dramatic group, offered us three nights of Victorian entertainment in the Coliseum during August. A very enjoyable evening of singing and short plays was attended by an active crowd of visitors on all three evening.
Many people were shocked in August to hear of the news of the destruction of the Tabernacl chapel in Powel Street, Aberystwyth. A small temporary display about the history of the building was created at the museum which proved very popular with locals and visitors. We offered to house the beautiful War Memorial sculpture of an angel which stood outside the building until it is returned to its original site.
Once again we held our annual Big Draw Competition in October. The theme was Myths and Magic of Ceredigion and during the exhibition of all the resulting work we tantalised visitors with the added attraction of coming to draw a Live Mermaid. Luckily we found one to display! Jenny Hughes of Bow Street spent eight hours during the week in a glass tank (without water). Many visitors enjoyed drawing her and watching her performance. We had nine local winners for the competition and our thanks goes to Ruth Jen Evans for judging the show.
Our year drew to a close with two very different exhibitions. Professional photographer Seimon Pugh-Jones creates scenes from battles from all periods using actors and authentic props. His images are filmic and attracted a wide variety of comments from visitors. He talked about his work and the way in which he builds the scene. The other display was called 'Dinosaurs in your Garden' and came from the National Museum of Wales. Never before have we displayed anything quite so old.
With Christmas celebrations underway and an 'Affordable Art' exhibition in the gallery let us take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas. We look forward to seeing you all next year when we have another line up of stimulating exhibitions.