Museum news and exhibitions

The latest on exhibitions, acquisitions, and key decisions.

Nottingham’s bear necessities

A new exhibition at the University of Nottingham Museum explores how humans and bears have interacted throughout  the history  of the East Midlands, as well as the continuing cultural resonance of these  animals today. 

In ‘Bears! Nature, Culture, and Beyond’, visitors can see  the bones of bears that inhabited Britain after the Ice Age,  as well as a rare jet carving dating to the Roman period (above); a medieval collar possibly worn by a ‘dancing  bear’; and examples of Nottingham’s distinctive bear pots, reflecting the popularity of bear-baiting until the sport  was banned in the 19th century. Displays also include commercial depictions, among them a cigarette card  from the Nottingham Player’s cigarette factory, a Fox’s Glacier Mints sweets jar, and a bar of soap from Boots.

The exhibition runs until 31 December, and is part of the University of Nottingham’s AHRC-funded ‘Box Office Bears’ project. Admission is free; the museum is open noon-4pm Thursday-Sunday. For more details, see http://www.lakesidearts.org.uk.  

Transformations at Newhaven Fort  and Hereford Museum

Newhaven’s 19th-century fort – now a military heritage attraction, it was the largest defensive work to be built in Sussex – is to close temporarily for a £5.8 million programme  of repairs and restoration. Funded by the Newhaven Town  Deal fund, the initiative will begin at the end of this summer  and continue throughout 2024. Planned improvements include new access to gun emplacements, refurbishing exhibitions, and redeveloping the children’s playground, as well as new measures to protect the site’s historic structures from adverse weather conditions. The site is set to reopen in spring 2025.

Meanwhile, Hereford Museum & Art Gallery closed on  15 July to begin a major regeneration project supported by a  £5 million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. This undertaking will create eight new galleries and display spaces, as well as a room for temporary exhibitions, and a permanent home for the early medieval Herefordshire Hoard – an artefact from which is shown (below). Plans also include renovation of the historic Woolhope Club Room, and new visitor facilities including a roof-top café, events and education space, and a roof terrace granting 360° views over the city and surrounding landscape. The museum is currently scheduled to reopen in 2025.

Virtual tour of the National Roman  Legion Museum

The National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon has launched a new tour allowing visitors to explore its collections  via their phone. Users can move around a virtual version of the museum gallery, clicking on key objects in display cases to read more about them and to access more detailed information from the collections’ catalogue. To access the tour, see https://museum.wales/ext/caerleon-panorama.


Tracing Freud on the Acropolis, Freud Museum London
Until 7 January 2024


Circles of Stone: Stonehenge and Prehistoric Japan, Stonehenge Visitor Centre
Until 3 September

The Last Voyage of the Gloucester: Norfolk’s Royal Shipwreck, 1682, Norwich Castle Museum
Until 10 September

Luxury and power: Persia to Greece, British Museum, London
Until 13 August

BBC 100 in Wales, National Museum Cardiff
Until 3 September

Ness of Brodgar: Time and Place, Orkney Museum, Kirkwall
Until 30 September

Images: © Sheffield Museums Trust; National Museum Wales / Portable Antiquities Scheme