Monthly Archives: December 2016

Vols – Herbert Museum and Art Gallery

The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery

The Arts Society volunteers

In November 2018, the volunteers at the Herbert Museum in Coventry will celebrate EIGHT YEARS of volunteering at the Museum. In August the Group was nominated for the West Midlands Volunteer Awards, Collections Section, and reached the finals. Sadly, they did not win, being beaten by Compton Verney’s Forest School Volunteers. However, they had a wonderful evening at the award ceremony and enjoyed “being made to feel very special”, which, of course, they are!

During their years at the museum, the Volunteers, Ruth Barton, Anne Haywood, Alex Harris and Shirley Jack, have been involved with a huge variety of projects, ranging from making underskirts for a dress exhibition at Blenheim Palace, mounting samplers, making padded coat hangers, 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.

More recently, they have been very busy making backdrop curtains for the Santa Sleigh ride at the Transport Museum, a ride which has been popular in Coventry for over thirty years and used to be owned by The Co-op. It is like a simulator – the sleigh goes up and down and the backdrop , which is painted with a scene, moves giving the impression you are flying! The original backdrop was falling to pieces and a new one was needed, which is like curtains with heading tape.

This sounds quite straightforward except that each of the 2 curtains was 12 metres long. Trying to cope with all that material going through a machine was challenging, but, as usual, the group found some innovative ways of handling the situation – as can be seen in the photos. The Transport Museum were so grateful for this work that they very kindly bought the group a new sewing machine … and … promised them a ride in the sleigh when it is up and running!

The next task is to make padded dots and dashes for a morse code activity at the Transport museum. These are made from shiny material and padded like little cushions Again it sounds straight forward but they need 150 of each, so by the time they finish they will be seeing dots and dashes before their eyes

Vols – Leamington Spa Museum and Art Gallery

Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum

RLS DFAS volunteers

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.