National Museum of Scotland

Amida Buddha.

Amida Buddha.

Bronze cast, Japan, 18th to 19th century

“This Japanese Buddha sits in meditation with a mandorla – a form of halo – behind his head. The mandorla, symbolizing light and blessedness, is a symbol in eastern and western art. The Amida Buddha embodies the ideals of wisdom, compassion and enlightenment. This form of Buddhism reached Japan via Korea in the 6th century.”

Date

20 December 2016

Location

Chambers Street, Edinburgh
NT 25824 73343; 55.94736°N, 3.18928°W

Information

National Museum of Scotland

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Storiel

Storiel

Storiel

Date

30 January 2016

Location

Bangor
SH 58013 72155; 53.22739°N, 4.12845°W

Information

Known locally as Bangor Museum, or Oriel Bangor, Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery was housed in the former Canonry since 1973 and has been run by the county council since 1991. The old Canonry is a Grade II listed building located in Tan-y-Fynwent and was built in 1862 as part of the Cathedral precinct.

The future of the museum has in the past been uncertain – in 2009 it came close to closure but was saved following a public campaign. A £1.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant was, however, secured in 2013 as part of the £2.4 million project Engaging Collections: Widening Access to Gwynedd’s Heritage. This is a joint initiative between Gwynedd Council and Bangor University and its aims included moving the museum from the old Canonry to the nearby former Bishop’s Palace and also improving access to the University’s collections.

The Grade II listed Bishop’s Palace, located in Ffordd Gwynedd, is the city’s second oldest surviving building with part of it dating back to around 1500. This was incorporated into the present building, constructed in the late 16th / early 17th centuries and extended in the 18th century. The building was sold in 1900 and became the Town Hall and was renovated in 1960.

With building work starting in March 2014, the premises have now been converted to house the museum and art galleries together with a shop and café. Although it was originally scheduled to open in autumn 2015, the actual opening did not take place until 30 January 2016. As part of the move, the museum has been re-branded as Storiel, a portmanteau word formed from the Welsh words stori (story) and oriel (gallery).

Further Reading

Bangor Museum and Art Gallery (British Listed Buildings);
Town Hall, Bangor (British Listed Buildings);
Bishops Palace Development (Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery)

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World Museum, Liverpool

World Museum, Liverpool

World Museum, Liverpool

Date

23 May 2015
Location

William Brown Street, Liverpool

SJ 34808 90770; 53.40968°N, 2.98218°W

Information

William Brown (1784-1864), who was born in Ballymena and who had lived for a number of years in America, founded the Liverpool merchant firm William Brown & Co in 1810. He entered into partnership with Joseph Shipley in 1825 to form Brown, Shipley & Co (which survives today as a subsidiary of Luxembourg-based KBL European Private Bankers SA) and over the years the firm’s emphasis shifted from trading to merchant banking. Brown served as Liberal MP for South Lancashire from 1846 to 1859 and was honoured for his philanthropy by having a street named after him. He was also created Baronet Brown of Richmond Hill in 1863.

Following the construction in Liverpool of the monumental St George’s Hall, which was built on the site of the 1749 infirmary and which opened in 1854, there was a vision of transforming the adjoining area then known as Shaw’s Brow into a forum surrounded by grand civic buildings. The idea of a forum was never realised, but the following buildings were constructed in what became William Brown Street: Library and Museum; Walker Art Gallery; Picton Reading Room; County Sessions House; and, finally, the Museum Extension and Central Technical School.

The first of these public buildings, the Library and Museum, was built between 1857 and 1860. London architect Thomas Allom (1804-1872) had been commissioned to design it and his plans were subsequently adapted by Corporation Surveyor John Weightman (1793-1883) in order to save costs. William Brown initially donated £6,000 towards the project, into which the Corporation invested £10,000. Brown later donated a further £35,000 to enable the project to be completed. The new building served as a replacement for the city’s Derby Museum, which housed the natural history collection bequeathed by Edward Smith-Stanley (1775-1851), 13th Earl of Derby and former president of the Linnean Society. The new museum’s collection eventually outgrew its premises and in 1901 it expanded into the newly built extension on its left – designed by Edward William Mountford (1855-1908) – which also housed the Central Technical School.

The building sustained serious damage during World War II when it was bombed in 1941. The Library was subsequently rebuilt in 1957-60 and the Museum in 1963-69 by City Architect Ronald Bradbury (1908-1971), with the original façade being retained. Major alterations were completed in 2005 when the then Liverpool Museum became the World Museum. New galleries were opened, with the museum expanding into the lower half of the extension building, which at the time was owned by Liverpool John Moores University. The old entrance, up a flight of stone steps, was also replaced by a new ground-level entrance leading into a five-storey atrium.

The original building, which houses part of the World Museum and part of the Central Library, has Grade II* listed status.

Further Reading

World Museum;
William Brown Library and Museum (Wikipedia);
World Museum (Wikipedia)

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Brambell Natural History Museum

Common Chimpanzee

Common Chimpanzee

Date

18 April 2015
Location

Bangor

SH 57710 71943; 53.22540°N, 4.13288°W

Information

By 1887 a museum had been established in Bangor University’s first premises – the Old Penrhyn Arms Hotel – and this was used as a permanent home for the rock and mineral collection belonging to the university’s first Professor of Chemistry and Geology, James Dobbie. Bangor University’s Natural History Museum is now housed in the School of Biological Sciences’ Brambell Building. The collection is not normally open to the public, but an open day was organised under the auspices of the Engaging Collections: Widening Access to Gwynedd’s Heritage project. This is a joint initiative between the university and Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery and received a £1.4 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2013. As part of the project, the Bishop’s Palace in Bangor, which dates back to the 16th century, will be renovated as a new home for Gwynedd Museum, which came close to closure in 2009, but was saved following a public campaign. The initiative is also allowing management of the university’s collections to be improved, with further open days planned for the future.

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Blists Hill Victorian Town

The Hay Inclined Plane was one of the first canal boat-lift inclines to be created and was in operation from the 1790s until the 1890s. Coal, iron and other products were conveyed from the short section of the Shropshire Canal running through the industrial complex that is now the site of Blists Hill Victorian Town down to the Coalport Canal and thence to the River Severn.

The Hay Inclined Plane was one of the first canal boat-lift inclines to be created and was in operation from the 1790s until the 1890s. Coal, iron and other products were conveyed from the short section of the Shropshire Canal running through the industrial complex that is now the site of Blists Hill Victorian Town down to the Coalport Canal and thence to the River Severn.

Date

1 April 2015
Location

Blists Hill

SJ 69603 03613; 52.62940°N, 2.45052°W

Information

Further Reading

Hay Inclined Plane;
Blists Hill Victorian Town

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Darby Houses, Coalbrookdale

Eagle Slayer (John Bell), bronze sculpture cast by the Coalbrookdale Company around 1848.  The piece was purchased to commemorate the founder Chairman of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, E Bruce Ball (1903-1985) and is on display in the Darby Houses.

Eagle Slayer (John Bell), bronze sculpture cast by the Coalbrookdale Company around 1848. The piece was purchased to commemorate the founder Chairman of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, E Bruce Ball (1903-1985) and is on display in Rosehill House.

Date

30 March 2015
Location

Coalbrookdale

SJ 66680 04967; 52.64140°N, 2.49385°W

Information

The Darby Houses in Coalbrookdale are one of the ten attractions run by the Iron Gorge Museum Trust and were the homes of various members of the family of Quaker ironmasters. Rosehill House was built in the 1720s and has been in the care of the Trust since 1978. Dale House served as the Manager’s House for the Coalbrookdale Company and its construction was started by Abraham Darby I, who in 1709 revolutionised iron smelting by using coke rather than charcoal. Dale House suffered from a 20th-century flat conversion, but is now in the process of being restored to its condition of the 1780s, the period when it was the residence of Abraham Darby III, who built the world’s first cast-iron arch bridge.

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Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron – Great Exhibition

‘Africa’ lamp standard, from a series of four cast-iron standards representing continents, produced by the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1860s and thought to have been designed by John Bell

Africa lamp standard, from a series of four cast-iron standards representing continents, produced by the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1860s and thought to have been designed by John Bell

Date

30 March 2015
Location

Coalbrookdale

SJ 66770 04671; 52.63874°N, 2.49248°W

Information

Further Reading

Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron

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Mostyn

Cast-iron verandah

Cast-iron verandah

Date

16 March 2014
Location

Vaughan Street, Llandudno

SH 78537 82048; 53.321378, -3.824968

Information

Designed by architect G A Humphreys, the Mostyn Art Gallery opened in 1901 as a public gallery funded by Lady Augusta Mostyn to exhibit works by female artists. The gallery closed twelve years later and the building was subsequently put to a variety of uses until eventually reopening as an art gallery, Oriel Mostyn, in 1979. Now branded simply as ‘Mostyn’, the gallery of contemporary art underwent a three-year programme of renovation and extension which was completed in 2010.

Further Reading

Mostyn (official site);
Oriel Mostyn art gallery (HistoryPoints);
Mostyn (LustreBox)

 

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Museum of Liverpool

Museum of Liverpool

Museum of Liverpool

Date

1 November 2013
Location

Pier Head, Liverpool

SJ 33919 90137; 53.40388°N, 2.99541°W

Information

The Museum of Liverpool, situated on Mann Island between Pier Head and Albert Dock, opened in July 2011 and cost £72m. Its prestigious waterfront location is within the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building itself is 110m long and 60m wide and is of a steel-frame and concrete construction with Jura limestone cladding.

National Museums Liverpool created the new museum to replace the former Museum of Liverpool Life, which closed in 2006, and its aim is to tell the story of the city and its people. The project, however, has been fraught with difficulties.

Liverpool’s iconic waterfront edifices The Three Graces — The Port of Liverpool Building, The Cunard Building and the Royal Liver Building — were completed between 1907 and 1917 and are located at the Pier Head on the River Mersey. The idea of a ‘Fourth Grace’ to house the Museum of Liverpool and intended to feature as the focal point for the 2008 European Capital of Culture festivities was mooted in 2002. The idea was later abandoned though, with Will Alsop’s winning design ‘The Cloud’ being cancelled in 2004 in the face of escalating costs.

In 2005 architects 3XN won the contract to design the new museum. This Danish practice then sub-contracted Manchester-based architects AEW to advise on regulatory matters. 3XN’s contract was, however, terminated in 2007 and AEW subsequently took over the principal role. Since the opening of the museum, National Museums Liverpool have been in dispute with AEW over defects with the building. As of August 2013, AEW had been ordered to pay over £2.3m in damages as a result of serious problems with external steps, terraces and seats and internal ceilings. Part of a ceiling had collapsed not long before the museum opened, and the outside areas of the building are still not accessible to the public.

Museum of Liverpool;
Museum of Liverpool – review (The Guardian, 24 July 2011);
Museum of Liverpool wins £1.2m in legal dispute (Museums Journal)

 

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Salinas del Carmen, Fuerteventura

Museo de la Sal (Salt Museum)

Museo de la Sal (Salt Museum)

Date

4 April 2013
Location

Caleta de Fuste, Fuerteventura

28.367160°N, 13.871441°W

Information

The production of sea salt was an industry that employed hundreds of people in the eastern Canary Islands in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, however, Salinas del Carmen is the only working salt works to survive in Fuerteventura. The works, located 3km south of Caleta de Fuste, was originally known as Salinas de Hondurilla and dates back to the 19th century. It was rebuilt around 1910 and was acquired in the late 1970s by the island authorities, who restored the site and built El Museo de la Sal (The Salt Museum) there. The sea-spray salt produced at the works using traditional methods is now marketed internationally as a gourmet product. It is lower in sodium than conventional salt and higher in minerals such as magnesium, potassium and sulphates.

The production process starts with waves driven by the trade winds battering against rocks on the shore. The resulting sea spray, with increased concentrations of minerals, overspills into a receiving area, from where it is channelled into a series of tanks (‘cocederos’) to be warmed by the heat of the sun. From there, the heated brine is then allowed to run down into the evaporation tanks (‘tajos’), where the salt gradually crystallises in a thin layer on the surface of the water. The tanks are stirred twice a day and once almost all the water has evaporated the salt is raked up into mounds to drain at the side of the tanks before being taken to the salt store.

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