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April 2017 - Stories in Stitch exhibition

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Don’t miss the latest temporary exhibition at Guildford Museum is “Stitches in Time”. It is bright, cheerful, and uplifting and features items from the museum’s own needlework . The collection was started in 1928 when Joan Drew and her friends donated items to the museum. It is very popular amongst embroidery enthusiasts and great to see it featured in an exhibition. I am not a natural enthusiastic of this sort of thing but I found it fascinating from the 19th century samplers by small children to the more recent patchwork by the Wey River Embroiders.

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This exhibition gives the museum a lift. Compared with the slick exhibitions at the Guildford House the museum has often seemed like the poor relation. With outdated displays it has been on a downward spiral and was almost closed a couple of years ago. Now there are plans to add an extension and café. This will give the museum a boost in a few year’s time but things need to start happening now. Last year’s exhibitions, on the Postal Service and Great Train Robbery, were hired in so it is great that the museum is showing off our collections.

Due to the fragile nature of the material, “Stitches in Time” is only on for 3 weeks until 6th May so don’t miss it.

What is also good about this exhibition is that it creates a great impression. I have seen some very tired and neglect local museums and it colours ones view even if there are some very interesting exhibits. Conversely, if visitors see enthusiasm and love for the place the moment they arrive then they will overlook the age of some of the older cases and enjoy their visit. Not only did I enjoy “Stitches in Time” but I was delighted to see effort and gone into other areas. As I approached there was an Easter Tree in the window, there was a very nice recent acquisitions display of tape measures. The woman at the desk was very welcoming. She explained what the exhibition was about, said a bit about a public consultation called “Your Stories, Your Museum” and pointed out the trail which my daughter keenly picked up.

The other exhibition is “Alice in Wonderland: Themes and Variations”. I cannot review it properly because it is obviously still under development. There are currently just a couple of lonely cases. But what an opportunity the town has here. Visitors to White Stuff in the High Street may be familiar with the giant Alice in Wonderland book in the corner upstairs where children can climb through a hole to discover a tea set. This is the sort of creative idea we need when celebrating one of the most imaginative writers who ever lived. It is a brilliant use of a small space.

 

The Alice room (or “Rabbit Hole” as the museum is calling it) is right at the back of the museum. However, as you climb the stairs from the main exhibition hall there is a shortcut through the darkened costume displays. This has the feel of a tunnel. It would be really easy to commission a local artist or scene painter to create an entrance to the “tunnel” here without interfering with the costume gallery. The “Rabbit hole” room could also be decorated or perhaps school children could create a giant “Alice” as a project. There could be a table for children to create their own advert. As I looked around the museum I was delighted to see a number of fascinating items that could be brought together. There was a large image of the Duchess and the rabbit which could help decorate the room. There were some Alice in Wonderland tiles, an Alice puzzle and a postage stamp holder designed by Lewis Carroll himself featuring characters from his books. This exhibition runs until July and I look forward to seeing it develop.