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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Gnome and Away at the Garden Museum


The Garden Museum has always been a firm favourite with us here at The Ministry of Curiosity, so it's sad and exciting to report that from the 30th October 2015 the museum will be closing up, cataloguing objects and packing them away for a redisplay due to open early in 2017. But before it does, you need to take a long look at their Gnome and Away exhibition that ingeniously shows off some of the processes of decanting, packing and moving objects from the gallery and into storage.



So many hoes in here where do I begin? 
Largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund the development of the Museum currently housed in the deconsecrated and beautiful parish church of St Mary-at-Lambeth will give the collection more space in the doubling of gallery spaces, new pavilions for earning spaces and the much needed but not so sexy work on the electrics and drainage. There is even an exciting plan to resurrect some of John Tradescant’s ‘Ark’ an infamous cabinet of curiosities that became the first museum to open to the public in the seventeenth century. With many objects collected by the naturalist and traveller now owned by the Ashmolean museum the garden museum are working closely with the Oxford institution to bring the objects back to Lambeth and closer to the collector himself whose tomb lies in the garden of the museum.



But of course, the museums intent to show off the history of the nation’s gardens from 2017 comes at no small cost. To reach their target they need to take an additional £500,000 in donations and thus have asked the public to contribute by adopting an object, not a fresh idea but an effective one. The donor will not only get the satisfaction of helping out a small museum but also attend a special private view of the new galleries and be credited on object labels. Here are a few special objects up for donor grabs including a miniature flower pot for £250.
 




Does this have your name on it? 



However before opening the new galleries the staff of the museum have to take on a museum mission that is a full decant of the building - no easy feat. In anticipation of this workload the curatorial team have provided visitors a sneak peak of what closing a museum entails. Offering visitors a ‘last chance’ to see the Garden museum's unique collection, the Gnome and Away exhibition invites visitors to rifle through the drawers of photographs, peer at the salon hang of their impressive art collection and gaze into open crates with objects ready to be packed. An even more delightful touch is that they have used catalogue cards instead of labels and each card details storage guidelines, conservation considerations and the standard reference of collection and accession number. For the fellow museum professional the exhibition even boasts a cataloguing table complete with gloves, cards, and tissue paper, hopefully reminding the public that the considerations of temporarily closing a museum go further than stopping visitation. A clear and concise plan of action for the objects is vital to any decant and the opportunity to catalogue, conserve and reconsider the collection during this downtime is vital for the longevity of any collection.




Here at The Ministry we urge you to visit the museum, and treat yourself to a bit of cake in the cafe. The beetroot and chocolate cake in the garden is a brilliant treat.









The Museum, Café and shop are open 10:30 - 17:00 Sunday to Friday and 10:30 - 16:00 on Saturdays; last orders in the cafe are 30 minutes before we close.

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