Whats in store at the Victoria Gallery.

Did you know that more than four plates – stacked on top of each other – can lead to distortion and damage?

Well before you rush to sort out your crockery can l tell you this was but one of many fascinating facts l discovered whilst on a tour of the stores at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.

Phoebe explaining about how the Victoria Gallery accepts and regoisters objects.

It’s a free and monthly guided journey of the parts of the gallery other people don’t reach.

This behind the scenes look is designed to make the collection more accessible and let you see what the museum staff get up to underneath the public galleries.

The Bath Society of Artists Summer Open exhibition taking place above our heads.

It’s also an opportunity for you see how everything not on show is safely stored – whether it’s watercolours, prints, oil paintings or ceramics and reassuring you that everything in the collection – which technically belongs to the people of B&NES – is being properly cared for.

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Here are the boxes in which ceramics are stored.

Our hour-long tour –  ably guided by Museum Exhibitions Assitant, Phoebe Meiklejohn-McLaughlin – started in the strong room – the oldest store – through to watercolours and prints and finally the oil store.

Phoebe showing us one of the miscellaneous items in store. A sort of mega bladed ‘Swiss Army’ type pen knife probably used as a demonstration object of what the blade-producing company could do!

We also got to hear about the accessioning process in which only objects with local relevance are now accepted and how they are catalogued and recorded so the museum knows exactly where things are – whether in store, on display or maybe on loan.

We are in the ‘oil store’ and examining a painting hung on a pull out rack.

There are special racks or boxes for objects. Non-acidic paper to wrap things in and – coming back to those plates – boxes where no more than four plates are stacked one on top of the other – and then with special cushioning guards between each of them.

A formal accessioning policy is a more recent way of doing things but there is still evidence – in the miscellany cabinet – of disparate objects that don’t seem to have any individual relevance.

At the very back of a cupboard – that little music box with a three dimensional scene from the Assembly Rooms on top.

My favourite a little music box with a glass-covered tableau representing dancers at the Assembly Rooms with Beau Nash on hand to supervise proceedings.

It’s not in the best of conditions and – with the cost of conservation being very high – the Victoria Gallery has to be very selective about what are the most important items to spend money upon.

So this little ‘fancy’ might not enjoy the general public gaze for some time but it will remain in storage and who knows.

Tours – as l say – are free but you have to book in advance via 01225 477232. They happen on Wednesdays and the next tours are due on June 15, July 20, August 17, September 21, October 12, November 18 and December 14. All from 12 noon to 12.45.

You can also visit www.victoriagal.org.uk


1 Comment

  1. Hello Richard, I tried to reply to your post, but am unable to unless I become a member of Worpress, Twitter or Facebook. I have posted a comment before in the past, but there wasn’t the same restriction. Are there any plans to enable this route to be open again for those of us who don’t really want to join in order to post a message. Anyway, here was my contribution in case you wanted to put it in.

    “I adopted a painting through the Victoria Gallery’s adopt-a-picture scheme as a birthday present for a ‘significant’ birthday for my mum (i.e. one with a zero in it!). This enabled the Gallery to restore a painting of Pulteney Bridge and we were able to visit the painting before, during and after restoration. We both thought this such an excellent idea as a gift. Some people like to do this in memory of a loved one, but I think it’s also a nice idea for the ‘recipient’ to be able to see what has been adopted in his or her name. You can also adopt books for restoration at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution based in Queen Square, which I was able to do again as a ‘significant’ birthday present for a friend. It seems such a good idea to be able to help to preserve heritage.”

    Best regards and I am an avid fan of your Bath Newseum blog.


    Jill Brown

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