Keep Gloucester Folk (Life) Museum open
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Gloucester's beloved Folk Museum (renamed last year to 'Gloucester Life') is due to close some time after Heritage Open Days in September - a matter of just a few weeks - unless we intervene.
As one of the country’s oldest buildings dedicated to social history, this really is a treasure; I don’t think we can over-emphasise its importance. Bishop Hooper’s lodging, as it’s also known (it's believed he stayed there before being executed for heresy in 1555), with its beautifully preserved 16th-century wall paintings, is a precious piece of Gloucestershire’s heritage in itself. The building was also home to Gloucester's important pin-making factory from the 18th to 19th century - in fact, pins can still be seen lodged between the floorboards, where they fell a couple of hundred years ago, and the old forge is still in place. It’s so important that it remains open for the people of Gloucestershire – as well as its international visitors – to enjoy.
The museum is also a lively hub for community events, hosting the Cotton Motorcycle meetings, annual Apple Day with cider-making using its mill, school visits in the Victorian schoolroom, book launches in its modern purpose-built extension, Morris dancing events... the list goes on.
As with all museums, what the public see is just the tip of the iceberg; the collections which have been built up over the years fill the many store rooms on every level of the building. As an employee there many moons ago, I had the privilege of helping to conserve and record the collections, and there are many, many jewels the public have not yet been able to learn from and enjoy. Its collection includes items from Gloucester's Civil War history; fishing on the River Severn; folklore; costume; agriculture; industrial revolution; transport; childhood toys and games; domestic appliances; and the people who helped shape the county's history. There is absolutely no way these important artefacts are all going to be saved by storing at the City Museum – which has what has been suggested – there simply won’t be room.
I really do feel strongly about this and, if it’s not a money-saving exercise, as has been stated, and is just to provide a nice new home for the Civic Trust (wonderful though they are), this must not be allowed to happen.
Before it’s too late – let’s fight to save our wonderful Folk Museum!
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