Museum news: from unlocking past lives at the Museum of East Dorset, to changing perceptions at the Museum of Homelessness

The latest on acquisitions, exhibitions, and key decisions

Unlocking past lives at the Museum of East Dorset

Ancient human remains held by the Museum of East Dorset are to be analysed in collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute as part of a nationwide research project to establish whole-genome histories for 1,000 individuals from Britain’s past. The wider initiative, funded by the Wellcome Foundation, aims to aid medical research by improving understanding of genetic health and disease.

Jesse McCabe, a Laboratory Research Scientist at the Francis Crick Institute, examines bone fragments from the Tarrant Hinton burials. IMAGE: Museum of East Dorset

At the museum, tiny samples have been taken from the skeletal remains of 17 individuals excavated by the Wimborne Archaeological Group between 1968 and 1984. They came from burials in and around Tarrant Hinton, Dorset, an area that was occupied from the Bronze Age (2500-800 BC) through the Iron Age (800 BC-AD 43) into the later Roman period (up to c.AD 388).  

The samples are to undergo ancient DNA analysis, a process that is expected to take up to 12 months to complete. Any significant findings will be shared with the public, Museum Director Chezzie Hollow said.

New home for Museum of Homelessness

The Museum of Homelessness has announced plans to open a new museum at Manor House Lodge, Finsbury Park, in 2023.

The building is on a ten-year community lease from Haringey Council, a key partner in the project, and will host performances, talks, and workshops developed by people who have experienced homelessness, as well as new work developed with the local community by three artists in residence. It will also be a base for 250 support sessions per year (five per week), which are expected to include regular surgeries focused on housing and legal rights, as well as the provision of essentials during the cost-of-living crisis.

Confirmed funders for the first three years of work by the Museum of Homelessness at Manor House Lodge include Historic England, the Linbury Trust, Oak Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and Arts Council England. See for more information.

Fenland & West Norfolk Aviation Museum closes

The Fenland & West Norfolk Aviation Museum in West Walton, Cambridgeshire, closed its doors for the last time on 29 October.

Established in the 1970s, the museum was a key centre of aviation archaeology, actively involved in the research and recovery of historical aircraft, housing and displaying finds unearthed over the years, and honouring those who lost their lives in aviation accidents. Its exhibits spanned the First World War to the present day, and ranged from small artefacts recovered from wreck sites to entire replica aircraft.

The Fenland Citizen reports that the museum team had hoped to buy the site, launching a fundraising appeal in 2020, but the land was instead sold to a local developer. Now most of the museum’s collections are being rehomed with City of Norwich Aviation Museum, where they are set to be housed in a purpose-built new structure.

New exhibitions

Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt
British Museum
Until 19 February 2023

A British Museum Partnership – Ancient Egyptians: secrets of the afterlife Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough
Until 26 February 2023

Tut ’22: the life of Tutankhamun Experience Barnsley
Until 18 March 2023

Gladiators: a cemetery of secrets Corinium Museum, Cirencester
Until 23 April 2023

Lindisfarne Gospels Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
Until 3 December 2022

Hoards: archaeological treasures from west Norfolk
Lynn Museum, King’s Lynn
Until 11 June 2023 treasure-from-west-norfolk

Reframing Picton
National Museum Cardiff
Until 3 September 2023