Thursday, 26 January 2017
Bigger on the Inside: Horsham Museum
Today I ended up at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, which I'd stumbled upon one Sunday (when it was closed).
From the outside it looks pretty small, but once you get past the door, there is a lot to be seen, with many different permanent collections alongside their temporary exhibitions.
Compared to other local museums I've been to, this one turned out to be up there among the best!
The museum is a real aladdin's cave of rooms, each dedicated to one or two of the collections on display, with a couple of gallery rooms (which currently have temporary exhibitions by current artists).
Something I liked about the museum was that there were lots of 'scenes' set up, where items from the collections have been displayed 'in situ', with small numbers that correspond to the information boards by the displays. I think this really helps to understand the context in which different pieces would have been used!
My favourite was their shopping gallery, which I didn't take pictures of, because I was too busy staring at everything! This collection includes the fixtures and fittings of one of Horsham's old chemist shops, which includes lots of Victorian features such as drawers and an etched glass door.
There is a focus on the local trades of the past, including a display of gingerbread molds/stamps (Horsham had its own gingerbread, with a number of gingerbread makers in the town) and the blacksmith's forge, seen above. Also above, the storefront of W. Albery, a saddler, through which visitors can see some of the museum's saddlery lorinery collection (which has its own room)
No museum of local history is complete without something on crime and punishment, and Horsham Museum doesn't pull any punches with describing some of what went on. Along with a set of stocks and a display of padlocks, manacles and truncheons, there's a reconstruction of a prison cell, which uses the door, window and locks from an 18th century gaol which once stood in the town--and a description of several murderers and felons, and their subsequently gruesome executions.
...makes you glad to be living in the 21st Century, doesn't it!
There is honestly so much to be seen at Horsham Museum that it's impossible to take it all in one one trip. Their displays are accompanied by a lot of information, and there are so many collections that there's definitely something for everyone. It even has dinosaurs.
Aside from the main building, the museum has a garden and a barn outside, too, though I didn't go to see those today--I was loath to brave the bitterly cold weather!
I'll probably go back to the museum another time, if I'm in the town. Horsham isn't straightforward to reach from where I live, but the museum is really fantastic.
If this post has whetted your appetite for a trip to Horsham, or you're reading this thinking 'where's Horsham?' or even 'That's thousands of miles away', the museum has a '3D Virtual Tour' available on their website, so you can explore the museum from the comfort of your own chair!