The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery
The Volunteers, Ruth Barton, Anne Haywood, Alex Harris and Shirley Jack, have been working at the Museum for the past seven years and during that time they have been involved with a huge variety of projects. This year they were presented with a Gold Star Award by David Brass, the Area Representative for the Midlands Region. The Gold Star is a relatively new award, given by Area HV representatives to individuals or groups who have shown true dedication to Heritage Volunteering.
Over the years projects have ranged from making underskirts for a dress exhibition at Blenheim Palace, mounting samplers, making padded coathangers, sword covers, parasol covers and even mounting birds for the Natural History section of the museum. One of their more unusual projects was making saddle covers for the bicycles in the Transport Museum. They have also made Sensory Story props for the younger visitors to the museum, including The Hungry Caterpillar and a sensory blanket.
Future projects include repairing tabards from the Lunt ‘Hands On’ collection. These are to enable young legionaries to have a great experience killing each other while sporting the correct gear. Unfortunately, they forget how big their heads are and pull on the tabards, which get ripped and now need repairs.
The group will also be given training before they start to clean up the insect collection, which involves cleaning trays housing small insects’ wings or antennae which may have come adrift and will need to be reunited with their previous owner.
Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum
The group of volunteers at Leamington Art Gallery is now in its twelfth year and was delighted to be presented with a special award for their work over this time by the West Midlands Museum Volunteer Awards, which was presented at a ceremony at the Hippodrome Theatre in Birmingham. The awards were designed to recognise and reward the valuable work and significant contribution made by volunteers to the museum sector. The citation said that the award was given "for the breadth of work undertaken and the commitment required". It also mentioned the variety of skills provided by different volunteers. Their ongoing work reflects this diversity of talents.
Work continues on the parasols, some in excellent condition, but others very delicate and needing to be stored with great care. It was necessary to construct special boxes using Corriflute, which is a very adaptable material resembling corrugated card but more durable. Plastic nuts were used to secure one section to another. As most of the parasols are made of silk, the lid had to be the exact size to give a snug fit. It is essential to do this as old silk is very vulnerable to attack from insects.
The group has also been making garment covers and covered padded coat hangers for the costume collection, when they use calico. Before this can be used it has to be prewashed at a very high temperature to shrink it and get rid of any dressing.
Future projects will include work on quilts from the African Caribbean Society, plus newly acquired dresses from the costumes collection. The Art Gallery is seeking specialist advice on handling the quilts before beginning this work.