It’s time once again for the annual Heritage Open Days when interesting places all over the country open their doors as payback for public money received.
Last year I went into the Reading Abbey, which is normally closed to visitors, and this year I went to the Reading Museum stores. Here are held all the exhibits that there isn’t room for in the museum itself. We only saw one floor of the stores but I was told that the ground floor held larger objects including several vehicles including a fire engine.
The tour started with a presentation explaining the work of the museum service and how they go about cataloguing all the items. You can see the fruits of the museum’s database on their website. The topics section is a good way to explore without having to know what the collection holds.
We next moved into the storage space itself starting by looking at a number of objects related to Reading Abbey. It was fascinating to see objects that were so well preserved, particularly when you look at how well the abbey itself isn’t preserved!
I was really impressed with how much thought had been put in by the staff to draw out relevant and interesting objects from the collection and how much freedom we were given to wander between the racking and inspect items held there. The racking (and the objects, obviously) were clearly of some pride!
We also had a talk on the maintaining of the collection which is a bit more complex than just a bit of light dusting, especially when it comes to things such as taxidermy, something of which the museum seems to have a reasonable amount of.
Once again it was a fascinating way to spend and hour and a half visiting somewhere that normally you wouldn’t get to see. As it turns out the stores aren’t entirely off limits, you can make arrangements to go to look at specific things, but it is only on days like this where you get such a guided tour.
I’m looking forward to what will be on offer next year.