Year of the Museum 2011

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The Holburne Museum has joined forces with sixteen Bath Museums and Bath Tourism Plus to launch Year of the Museum. The campaign for next year includes an audio tour of the city and Bath in 100 objects.

Joint Release
Bath Launches “2011 The Year of the Museum”

Bath has declared 2011 is officially the “ Year of the Museum”.  The city’s marketing body, Bath Tourism Plus is spearheading a campaign focused on the city’s 17 museums.  Special events and exhibitions, a new World Heritage Audio Trail and “Bath in 100 Objects” are planned as well as city wide events for World Heritage Day in April and Museums at Night in May 2011. For a city of its size, Bath has more museums than most, 17 within a square mile.  Over the past five years £20 million has been invested in redevelopment of three of the museums; the Holburne Museum, the Roman Baths and the American Museum in Britain.

Each museum will be running an interesting programme of events and exhibitions throughout the year for both local residents and for the four million visitors from around the world that come to Bath each year. In May 2011 the Holburne Museum comes out of wraps after almost three years with a brand new contemporary extension.  The building can now house major exhibitions, more of its wonderful collection of 9000 extraordinary objects and artwork founded by Sir William Holburne.  The display space is now doubled and the Grade One listed building has been completely restored and transformed for the 21st Century.

Highlights of the year will be two very special exhibitions; “Peter Blake: A Museum for Myself “opening mid May and “Gainsborough Landscapes: Themes and Variations” from September. The Holburne has a dramatic location at the end of Great Pulteney Street, the grandest street in the Bath and backs onto Sydney Gardens, once famous as Georgian pleasure gardens where public breakfasts, evening promenades and galas were held.

The Roman Baths which welcomes nearly a million visitors a year has completed a five year, £5.5 million project with a brand new approach to interpretation by revealing stories about people who lived there in Roman times as well as investment in conservation and improving access.  This is one of Europe’s best preserved ancient sites, a place where the Romans came to relax and worship from the far corners of the empire.  Now visitors can “meet the Romans”, characters that portray people that lived and worked in the region. Seeing history come to life makes it easier to imagine what life was really like in Roman Times.

The American Museum celebrates Fab@50 with a special exhibition, Marilyn, The Hollywood Icon opening in March showing 20 of the screen goddess’s gowns plus a trail of 50 objects through the museum.  This is the culmination of a five year  period of investment of £4 million gaining among other things a new Folk Art gallery and a new education centre in the Coach House opening in 2011. Located on the outskirts of Bath, overlooking an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The American Museum is a great arena for skirmishes like the Civil War re-enactments that take place in the grounds each year much to the delight of visiting children.

Several of the 17 museums tell the story of Bath whilst others enrich the experience of visiting the city, like the Fashion Museum at the Assembly Rooms and The East Asian Art Museum.  A number of the museums are about interesting or famous people who have made Bath their home like the Jane Austen Centre which tells the story of her time in Bath and how the city appears in her novels; or William Herschel who discovered Uranus using his very own telescope and William Beckford who built an extraordinary folly, Beckford’s Tower, some 250 years ago so he could admire his collection of precious objects and gaze out across the countryside.

Bath Tourism Plus has commissioned Dr Amy Frost, Curator of Beckford’s Tower to record a new MP3 audio guide to Bath that visitors can download from free of charge. They can use this guide to walk around the city at their own pace.  It explains why Bath is one of only three cities in the world to have World Heritage status and tells visitors how to discover more about the city’s fascinating history in its museums.  In many ways Bath is like a virtual museum with a piece of history around every corner.

“Bath in 100 objects” will demonstrate the wonderful collection of historic and quirky objects that are housed within the 17 museums.  Museums have been invited to nominate the objects.  Objects will include the golden Minerva’s head from the Roman Baths, one of the most significant finds; an eighteenth century dog wheel used for turning meat roasting on a spit; a Bath chair and the original seven foot plug from the Hot Bath which is now on display at the Thermae Spa Visitor Centre.  Bath also has a rich industrial heritage very much in evidence at the Bath at Work Museum where visitors can see a complete Nineteenth century mineral water factory and a Hortsmann Car, one of the first to be manufactured in Bath.
Bath will designate a “museum of the month” on; stage a series of lectures at each of the museums and create city wide events like World Heritage Day in April and Museums at Night in May.

The campaign launches with Heritage Open Week starting on 23rd October 2010 with a fun week of family activity across Bath and North East Somerset.  Local residents with a Discovery Card get free access to all the museums for this week.  Walks, talks and hands on fun are scheduled.  Come star gazing with the Herschel Museum of Astronomy; become a food explorer at No One Royal Crescent; learn about building ingredients at the Building of Bath Collection; go to Prior Park Landscape Gardens for Hallowe’en Happenings or follow a family trail through the Victoria Art Gallery.

Read the Chronicle’s article>>

Published on: 13/10/2010