The Redisplay of the Military Galleries Introductory Case- Abington Park Museum

The Redisplay of the Military Galleries Introductory Case- Abington Park Museum

Louise Hannam-Jones
History Curator at Northampton Museums and Art Gallery

The Background:

Abington Park Museum is home to the museum of the Northamptonshire Regiment and the Northamptonshire Yeomanry. Last year, the museum had some light refurbishment undertaken.  This included opening and repairing a number of previously blocked windows to improve the overall feel and lighting of the museum. However, although lovely for visitors, this was bad for the objects on display in the first case of the military galleries. The objects displayed in the case were a selection from the history of the Regiment and the Yeomanry and included a uniform, drums and a sash and colour belt. All of these items are light sensitive and faced damage due to the increased levels.
We therefore applied to AMOT (Army Museums Ogilby Trust) for a grant to change the display in order to improve the introduction to the galleries and change the objects on display to those less sensitive to light.

The Notion:

The idea was to produce a new display introducing the military galleries from the secondary entrance created in the refurbishment works. This included a new welcome panel, with a clear introduction (previously lost due to the creation of a secondary entrance). It also created an opportunity to display collections that had not recently been on display. The medal collection is large and varied but only a small section was on display. We are aware that our visitors missed the medal room that was once at Abington so we wanted to use the medal collection to chart the history of the Northamptonshire Regiment and the Northamptonshire Yeomanry. As the medals are made from metal, they would not be sensitive to the light levels within this space. We also wanted to link the medals to their owners and tell the personal stories of the people who once wore them.

The Process:

We appointed The Art Department as the designers for the project and together with input from the Northamptonshire Regiment Association, the Northamptonshire Yeomanry Association Benevolent Fund and the Western Front Association, we researched, designed and created an introductory case that featured a Welcome and Introduction panel, a Timeline of the Northamptonshire Regiment’s and the Northampton Yeomanry’s history highlighting key battles and places that the unit were stationed at different moments in time and five biographical panels providing snapshots into soldiers’ lives by telling their story of their military career accompanied by their images and medals. We also created a medal panel with large text to improve accessibility to the medals.

Outcomes:

We are really pleased with the redisplay of the case. The Art Department worked well with us to ensure the costs kept to our budget and created aesthetically pleasing designs. They listened to the brief and produced work that was of a very high quality.
The case ties in with the rest of the galleries but is also modern and fresh, giving a flavour of the new military galleries to come as part of the Phase 2 part of the New Museum Development project. It gives a clear welcome to the visitor who arrives either from the main or secondary entrance, making it evident that they are entering the military galleries. The timeline gives a clear distinction of what the Northamptonshire Regiment and the Northamptonshire Yeomanry were doing throughout their history and the soldier’s biographies tell a personal story of the different ranks of soldiers within the army and connect the person back to their medals.

Acknowledgements:

We would like to thank our partners:
Army Museums Ogilby Trust
The Art Department
The Northamptonshire Regiment Association
The Northamptonshire Yeomanry Association Benevolent Fund
The Western Front Association
Our Research Volunteers
The Families of the Soldiers
for all their help and input with the project.

We hope you enjoy the new display!


Visiting Hours and details of Abington Park Museum are:

Abington Park Museum

Park Avenue South

Northampton

NN1 5LW

Telephone: 01604 838110

Fax: 01604 838720

Email: museums@northampton.gov.uk

April – October, Thursday – Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays: 1pm – 5pm

November – March, Thursday – Sunday: 12 noon – 4pm

Open Tuesday – Sunday during Northamptonshire school holidays.

 

 

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Wimbledon Fever – July’s Shoe of the Month Part 2

Wimbledon Fever – July’s Shoe of the Month Part 2

Carly a volunteer within the Shoe Department at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery was inspired by some of our tennis shoes to write this mini blog.

Women’s tan leather bar style   tennis                                                                                    shoes. It has a flat black/grey rubber sole sewn to the upper. The sole of waist is stamped: RENSHAW. Size 6.

1900-20

When you look at the shoes on the feet of the female tennis players at Wimbledon this year and compare them to this shoe from over 100 years ago it’s clear that sportswear design has advanced. The form, materials and the fastenings are hugely different, and this is no doubt a result of years of scientific research into functional design and sports performance. In addition to availability of different materials there’s a lot to think about in tennis shoe design such as the multiple playing surfaces available, a shoe worn on the grass courts of Wimbledon would not necessarily be suitable for the Miami open. Then there is fashion, a shoe must function well, but the wearer also wants it to look good too. Even in the design of this shoe from the early 20th Century aesthetic appeal has been considered with the addition of a small flower head. We don’t know who wore this shoe, but its age alone makes it an interesting part of our collection. A shoe with a story would also make it a collectable and we also have a pair of men’s tennis shoes, worn and signed by Roger Federer donated to us in 2010. These shoes are a century apart from the women’s shoes above and are what we would more commonly describe as trainers having the more familiar lace up fastening and the unisex design we see today. So next time you watch a tennis match check out the players feet!

Pair of men’s tennis shoes by Nike. They were worn by Roger Federer. They are white leather with a red swoosh along each outer quarter. Each toe is signed in blue by Roger Federer. They are a size 12UK.

Shoe of the Month-Chocoholic

Chocoholic

​We are always delighted to be able to accept donations to the shoe collection. These are an amazing pair and look good enough to eat! Each one has been covered with fake chocolate and decorated with an assortment of mouth-watering handmade resin chocolates. The heel and sole are in gold with the words ‘Chocoholic’ on the sole.

The have been made by Nina Marie Shoes who creates unique, hand customised shoes that are made to order. They are extraordinary ’wearable art’.

Nina Marie Shoes

Nina Marie Shoes

Nele-Northampton Museum for 7 day work experience-part two

Nele is a student of the University of Antwerp, where she is currently studying for an MA in Conservation and Restoration. Wishing to gain some experience with leather and organic materials, Nele is spending eight weeks working between the National Leather Collection, Leather Conservation Centre and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. She is currently at Northampton Museum for a 7 day work experience.

Here is her Second Blog of her time at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

On Monday morning I continued the processing of the donation, I went through one box on Friday and was very curious to see what was in the other box. I came across a variety of shoes, but one that really stood out was a single black surgical shoe. I was quite amazed by this one, since I had never seen a shoe like that before! In the afternoon, I got to make a selection of shoe buckles for the new shoe gallery. I had a great time going through all the boxes and searching for the most striking pairs.

On Tuesday, I got to prepare a loan to Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. I followed the same procedure as last week and started with locating every item on the list (still one of my favourite things to do, wandering through the store rooms and getting to see so much more of the museum’s collection than is on display). The orange and pink platform sandals where my absolute favourite from this selection. I examined every pair up close and wrote down any occurring damage in the condition reports. With still a few pair of shoes to go, the work continued on Wednesday.

On my last day at Northampton Museum I finished the condition reports for the loan to Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. The last few hours of my time in the store rooms, I spent having a nose through the collection and improving the packaging of items waiting to be accessioned. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Northampton Museum and I am very grateful to Rebecca Shawcross for the opportunity. It was a valuable learning experience, I gained not only knowledge about the conservation of shoes, but also about Northampton which was once a large shoe producing town. I would like to thank Rebecca for the wonderful time I had in the museum and for sharing her extensive knowledge on shoes and Northampton.

On Thursday I returned to the National Leather Collection. After catching up and getting informed with the latest NLC news, it was time to continue the clean of the storerooms. This involves removing packaging material, making sure that there are no collection pieces stored on the floor. The first part, the cleaning, was quite straight forward, but reorganizing the shelves so that every object can be stored in the racks was quite a challenge. With the tape measure in one hand and a pencil in the other, I started by measuring the shelves and objects and pieced it all together in a plan. The first shelve to be completed was the one for the shields, and I am quite proud with the result. The reorganizing of the store rooms continued on Friday.

Single black surgical boot

Single black surgical boot

Shoe of the Month-The Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties

The 1920s saw hemlines grow shorter and shorter to finally above the knee. More attention was now focused on the shoe. By 1924 the classic bar shoe became the popular style for women.

There were various versions including those for daywear, sportswear and eveningwear. Some sported a shapely Louis heel with a concave curve or later a more slender version known by 1931 as the Spanish heel.

These satin shoes have been embroidered with a flower design in fine petit point stitch. They were made in 1926 in Vienna, Austria.

Bar Shoe

Bar Shoe

Nele-Northampton Museum for a 7 day work experience

Nele is a student of the University of Antwerp, where she is currently studying for an MA in Conservation and Restoration. Wishing to gain some experience with leather and organic materials, Nele is spending eight weeks working between the National Leather Collection, Leather Conservation Centre and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. She is currently at Northampton Museum for a 7 day work experience.

Here is her Blog of her time at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

The journey continues with a 7-day work experience at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. I will be carrying various tasks under the supervision of Rebecca Shawcross, senior shoe conservator, who has been building up knowledge for the past 20 years on Northampton’s various shoes and shoemakers.

My first day at Northampton Museum, Tuesday, started with a tour of the store room. There are literally rows and rows of shoes, I could not wait to dive into the collection! But first things first, the staff meeting. Every week, on Tuesday morning, there is a staff meeting and since the exhibitions for the new museum were going to be discussed, Rebecca thought it would be nice for me to sit in on this one. And let us be honest, who does not like a sneak peek behind the scenes? After the meeting it was finally time to browse through the collection, I had been giving the task to locate a list of items that had been selected for the new shoe gallery. There is no better way to get to know the collection!

On Wednesday, I got to make a selection of jewelled heels for the new shoe gallery. I went through every box searching for the prettiest pairs and came up with a, though I say so myself, a varied, colourful and eye drawing selection. The afternoon was spent locating items that would go on loan to Fairfax House, whilst doing so, I came across a variety of shoes. From modern day, quite modest footwear to more extravagant and marvellous pairs of shoes to beautifully embroidered silk shoes from the 17th and 18th century and to even a pair of pink kinky boots.

The work on the loan to Fairfax House continued on Thursday. Every item that goes on loan needs be condition checked, so I spent most of the day examining the items up close and writing condition reports on them. What I particularly like about it, is that you are given time to investigate up close, to see perhaps signs of pests and what I am always very interested in, previous restorations. It is very interesting to see how approaches towards restoration of objects change over the years. In the afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Norma Pierson, someone who has been very active in cultural heritage and who has been so kind to donate a few much loved items, amongst which a few designs of Vivienne Westwood. It is always a pleasure of knowing the story behind every piece clothing and knowing the memories attached to it.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of processing a donation of shoes by Andrew Roberts, now retired after working in the family shoe shop, David Roberts, for over 50 years located in Llandudno, Wales. The two big boxes in which the donation was sent to the museum were standing in the office, grabbing my attention every time I saw them and making me wonder what exactly was in there. So I had the pleasure of opening every box (no less than 38 of them!) and seeing what was inside, I made a list of all the items and checked the condition of every object, paying special attention to signs of pests and how fragile the object is. With one box still waiting to be unpacked, I will continue the processing of the donation on Monday, I can’t wait to see what treasures are hidden inside!

Endless rows of shoes

Endless rows of shoes

One of the many treasures in the collection, a pair of jewelled heels, circa 1920s

One of the many treasures in the collection, a pair of jewelled heels, circa 1920s

The occasional pair of pink kinky boots, these would have been worn in the film 'Kinky Boots'

The occasional pair of pink kinky boots, these would have been worn in the film ‘Kinky Boots’

Feeling like a magpie searching for the most glamorous pairs of shoe buckles

Feeling like a magpie searching for the most glamorous pairs of shoe buckles

Shoe of the Month-Exquisite Designs

Exquisite Designs

The Italian Pietro Yantorney is considered to be one of the first known shoe designers in the modern sense. Shoemakers had been designing shoes for centuries but most early shoemakers were anonymous. By the end of the 19th century individual names were becoming prominent, including François Pinet and André Perugia.

These particular shoes made from red Genoese velvet with gold floral embroidery and a diamante buckle were worn by interiors designer Nancy Lancaster in the early 1920s. They still have the original cherry wood shoe trees inside them.