Museum news and exhibitions

The latest on exhibitions, acquisitions, and key decisions.

New museum for Roman Wroxeter

A new museum has opened at the English Heritage  site of Wroxeter Roman City in Shropshire. The displays house more than 400 artefacts from the settlement –  once the fourth-largest town in Britannia, and known  as Viriconium Cornoviorum to its inhabitants – many of  which have not been on public show before.

Within the museum – which stands alongside the site’s extensive surviving ruins – visitors can see artefacts representing the community’s clear interest in cleanliness and beauty practices. The site has produced one of the largest collections of excavated Roman tweezers, used by men and women alike to remove body hair, and other personal items on view include a strigil (used to scrape oil and dirt from the skin), perfume bottles, make-up applicators, jet and bone jewellery, and protective amulets. For more information about visiting the site, see  http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/wroxeter-roman-city

Nessie attraction resurfaces

Exactly 90 years after the first documented sighting of ‘Nessie’, an attraction dedicated to the history of Loch Ness and its legendary inhabitant has reopened to the public following  a £1.5 million transformation.

The Loch Ness Centre is located at the old Drumnadrochit Hotel, where in 1933 the manager Aldie Mackay reported seeing a ‘water beast’ in the loch. Now eight immersive  rooms are dedicated to 500 million years of the loch’s history; Scottish myths and legends; famous sightings, hoaxes, and historical figures relating to the ‘monster’; and ongoing scientific research and debate surrounding Nessie’s existence. Visitors  can also board the Centre’s vessel, Deepscan, to explore the waters of the 23-mile loch for themselves. For more details, see http://www.lochness.com.

Suffragette banner on display

A historic banner associated with the Manchester branch of  the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – later popularly known as the ‘Suffragettes’ – and proclaiming the city’s status  as ‘first in the fight’ for female suffrage has gone on display at  People’s History Museum.

Still vibrantly purple, green, and white, the banner was first unfurled in 1908, at a gathering headed by Emmeline Pankhurst in Manchester’s Stevenson Square; the following day it was taken to the Women’s Sunday rally in Hyde Park, London – an event that was attended by half a million people from across the country.

It was acquired by PHM – the national museum of democracy, located about a mile from Stevenson Square – five years ago, following a crowdfunded campaign, and played a key role in the institution’s 2018 celebrations of the centenary of women gaining the vote in the UK. The banner has now gone on display once more to mark its 115th birthday, and will remain on show until 7 January 2024, after which it will return to storage until 2028, when it will feature in a programme of events to mark the centenary of full female suffrage. For more details,  see http://www.phm.org.uk.


Adrift – Lego Lost at Sea by Tracey Williams

Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, 11 July-23 September 2023 http://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/exhibition/upcoming-adrift-lego-lost-at-sea-by-tracey-williams

Gladiators: a day at the Roman Games

Colchester Castle, 15 July 2023-14 January 2024 – https://colchester.cimuseums.org.uk/events/gladiators

Throwing it Out There: the archaeology of ritual, rivers, and rubbish

Museum of Archaeology, Palace Green Library, Durham, Until 12 November 2023 – https://dur.ac.uk/things-to-do/whats-on/events-calendar/ 2023/06/throwing-it-out-there-exhibition

Victorian Virtual Reality: photographs from the Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy

Watts Gallery, Compton, Until 25 February 2024 – http://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/exhibitions/victorian-virtual-reality

50 Years of the Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society

Wallingford Museum, Until 30 November 2023 – http://www.wallingfordmuseum.org.uk/exhibitions


Labyrinth: Knossos, myth and reality

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Until 30 July 2023 – http://www.ashmolean.org/exhibition/labyrinth-knossos-myth-reality

Images: English Heritage; People’s History Museum