Monthly Archives: November 2012

Cabinet of Curiosities at Scarborough Art Galleries

A Cabinet of Curiosities at Scarborough Art Gallery including stuffed birds and festive items will provide a fascinating insight into the Scarborough Collections over the next few months.

The Scarborough Collections is the name given to all the museums objects held by Scarborough Museums Trust on behalf of the Borough. From 10 November until next spring, each month a member of the Trust’s Visitor Services team will choose a variety of objects around a theme of their choice to be displayed in the Gallery’s reception area.

The first Visitor Services Assistant to curate a mini exhibition is Jim Middleton, who will choose items from the Trust’s extensive collection of taxidermy, and has called his cabinet ‘What’s hit is history’: the rise and rise of the Victorian ‘bird stuffers’.

Jim says: “Why are there so few examples of taxidermy from before the 1820s? Why was the 1851 Great Exhibition so important to British taxidermy, and how could a small town like Scarborough support no fewer than five taxidermists in the 1890s?

“With a resurgence of interest in the art of taxidermy, this is an interesting look at the history of ‘bird stuffing’. It aims to explore what caused its growth, the factors contributing to its decline, and the professional naturalists and stuffers of late Victorian Scarborough.”

On 8 December, Jim’s cabinet will be replaced by objects chosen by Visitor Services Assistant Sarah Moore, who will present Christmas at Crescent Villa.

She says: “Scarborough Art Gallery was called ‘Crescent Villa’ when it was originally built as a family home in 1845. For the next 80 years or so, it remained a home for various occupants until it became a maternity hospital in the Second World War. I’ve always thought that Christmas at Crescent Villa would have been particularly special with the grand entrance hall and cosy fireplaces.

“I plan to display festive items and toys that may have been used throughout this 80-year-period – Victorian, Edwardian and later – including a Noah’s Ark scene, tinplate toys and confectionery tins. I hope to create a really festive welcome for visitors to the Gallery!”