As Buxton Museum and Art Gallery look ahead to 2023, the award-winning attraction is hoping to see yet another record breaking year. Last year was its best year ever for visitor donations – £5,300, double the amount they had ever received before. In addition, Buxton Museum and Art saw more than 30,000 visitors through its doors on Terrace Road.
With an ever diverse programme of year-round exhibitions and events as well as the jewel in its crown, the Wonders of the Peak gallery, it’s no suprise the attraction is proving to be more popular than ever before. Entry also continues to be free. A major milestone in its success was the £1.5m re-development of Wonders of the Peak in 2017, made possible with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wolfson Foundation, Derbyshire County Council, Arts Council England and other benefactors. The Wonders tells the story of the geology and archeology of the Peak District landscape and the revamp meant that more objects than ever before could go on display, no less than 1200. From a cave lions hind leg and striking Roman jewellery to Saxon silver medieval coins and prehistoric tools, all items found in the Peak District and Buxton. The funding also allowed a major makeover of the gift shop and foyer.
Riding high on the subsequent success of the overhaul in 2017, this significantly raised the profile of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery both regionally and nationally, helping to attract partners such as the British Museum. In 2019 they struck gold, literally, putting on a joint exhibition with the British Museum and Salisbury Museum – Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain; the show saw record visitor numbers, receiving national acclaim.
Later in 2019, the year would finish on a high, with the museum being awarded Winner of Judge’s Special Award for Wonders of the Peak at the Derbyshire Heritage Awards.
During the pandemic, the museum quickly adapted to the era of lockdowns and business closures delivering online family workshops and activities; with funding from the Arts Council England‘s Emergency Response Fund, this also offered a life line to local artists and organisations in such a challenging period.
Fast forward to 2023 and the future looks bright for this unique and much loved visitor attraction. Reflecting on the success of 2022, the museum and art gallery held 14 exhibitions, held 11 free family workshops, including 2 for families with special educational needs, 14 public lectures and was visited by 285 school pupils.
The museum hopes to boost the number of young and family visitors further in 2023, after setting up a new play area for under-fives, and, instead of the unfriendly ‘do not touch signs’ used in museums in the past, added ‘please touch signs’ and ‘open this drawer, see what’s inside’ signs, encouraging young visitors to explore. The museum is also currently designated a ‘warm space‘ to help residents who are struggling to keep warm at home – anyone is welcome to come to the museum and spend as much time as they wish here.
According to the Annual Museum Survey, the museum’s visitors brought £225,735 into the local economy last year.
In addition, in a unique project last year saw 36 artefactsreturned to indigenous communities in Canada and the United States. Among the items returned to Native American and First Nation people in Canada and the US, were a ceremonial feasting platter, axe head, tomahawk, moccasins, baskets, canoe bailer and gloves.
New additions to the museum collection include a love token associated with Charles II
Items added to collections in 2022 include a teapot belonging originally to Ann Yates of Brown Edge near Buxton dating from about 1880, and made probably at Pearson’s at Whittington Moor, that bears her name; a silver cufflink, found by a metal detectorist in the county, with a design of flaming hearts underneath clasped hands, a love token associated with Charles II and his marriage to Catherine of Braganza in 1662; and a Buxton Mineral Water Co. bottle used for ginger beer dating to about 1875.
Events not to miss in 2023
Events to look out for in 2023 include the return of the Derbyshire Open Exhibition in June – an open art competition for all ages; work submitted must feature Derbyshire in the theme. More details about how to enter are coming soon. A new exhibition Limestone and Lead: Images of Industry from the Collections opens on 18th February, and celebrates how industry has shaped Derbyshire. The show will include from paintings, prints and photographs.
Councillor Barry Lewis, Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change, said:
“After the restrictions of lockdown, it’s wonderful to see that Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has not only bounced back but continues to go from strength to strength.
He added: “The museum and art gallery is home to many precious and interesting items and I would like to thank the volunteers who gave more than 1,400 hours of their free time to identify, document and care for collections.”
The museum remains free entry, donations are welcome on your visit and support the work of the museum in many ways. Opening times are Tuesday to Saturday: 10am – 5pm, last admissions 4pm, (closed Sundays in winter).
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Road, Buxton, SK17 6DA
T: 01629 533540