Archaeology Gallery at Dorset County Museum being redeveloped in spring 2015

Dorset County Museum Archaeology GalleryThe Archaeology Gallery at Dorset County Museum is currently being redeveloped as part of a £250,000 project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership (AONB).

Upon its completion in autumn 2015 the new gallery will become the visitor centre for the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership. Ultimately it will link in with information panels to be displayed along the ridgeway itself helping visitors explore the AONB and understand the sites that can be seen there today.

“This is a very special project for us,” said Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum. “The archaeology of Dorset is the history of over 10,000 years of human habitation in the county – our collections are nationally significant and cover the entire period from paleolithic times to Saxon and Viking Dorset.”

When the new Ancient Dorset Gallery (the new name for the former Archaeology Gallery) opens at the Museum, the centrepiece will be a special display of the Viking skeletons found during the construction of the Weymouth Relief Road in 2009.

Jadeite Axe

Jadeite Axe © DCM

During the initial work (December to March 2014) the existing gallery will be open but artefacts from some display cases will be removed for conservation. Other key objects will be redisplayed in the museum during this time.

The design of the new gallery will ensure that when work starts on the Museum’s planned Collection Discovery Centre, the improved displays will be moved into the new extension at minimum cost.

While the work is being undertaken, visitors will be able to enjoy a special spotlight loan from the British Museum of three jadeite axes and some mace heads from their own collection. Dorset County Museum’s own jadeite axe will be displayed alongside these loans.

For further information visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org. Dorset County Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10.00am to 4.00pm.

Launch of Hardy Country

Hardy CountryThursday 6th June 2013 sees the official launch of a major new project promoting the world of Thomas Hardy.  “Hardy Country” is a brand new initiative from a group made up of Dorset County Museum, The National Trust, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Thomas Hardy Society, and Dorset County Council. They have been working together to make Hardy Country into an internationally recognised, high quality visitor destination.

The first stage in the delivery of this vision is to provide a firm link between the two Hardy properties (Hardy’s birthplace and Max Gate), Dorset County Museum (which houses the famous ‘Hardy Collection’) and Clouds Hill, former retreat of T. E. Lawrence.  All are locations strongly associated with Hardy, his life and his novels and poetry and they come together here for the first time to make a co-ordinated visitor “offer”.

Accessed by a joint ticket costing just £20 (a saving of £6 on visiting all the locations separately), the project will inspire intellectual, emotional and physical engagement with the Dorset landscape and its cultural heritage.  For the first time, Thomas Hardy will be properly placed within the landscape and historic built environment that surrounded him during his life. Tickets will be on sale at all four locations plus the Dorchester Tourist Information Centre from 6th June.  More information is available from the website at www.hardycountry.org.

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum said, “If Hardy Country works well, we will look to develop the offer further by introducing walking and cycling trails, information about  the properties and surrounding areas, and  possibly shuttle buses or cycle hire between all the locations to help bring Hardy’s world alive to our visitors.”

There will also be an extensive educational programme to identify themes within Hardy’s work which are relevant today and make Hardy and his fellow writers more accessible to all age groups.

Sue Mitchell, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership and Chair of the Hardy Country Group said, “Thomas Hardy is a key part of our Dorset culture, he is all around us wherever we are in the county.  We are so lucky to be able to go out into Hardy’s countryside, and still see many of the things which inspired and deeply influenced his writings.”

In a further boost to the project, Dorset County Museum have recently been advised  that their Thomas Hardy Collection has become part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World – a catalogue of documentary heritage of global significance including the Magna Carta and the Mappa Mundi.

Hardy Country will be launched at approximately 7.00pm on Thursday 6th June following the launch of a new book on Hardy by J. B. Bullen, and before a talk by Helen Gibson and Marilyn Leah about Hardy’s first wife, Emma, which starts at 7.30pm. Entry is FREE and everyone is welcome.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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