This is a new type of project that involves the development of new approaches. We are consciously trying to break away from the collecting framework that a museum such as this has operated within hitherto.
We are targeting the twentieth century on a decade by decade basis and will develop themes within each that will knit together into an overall story. Themes are beginning to emerge through the knocking around of key words. So for example below:
1900s end of the old order; divided society
1910s War and Remembrance
1920s discontent and inspiration
1930s resurgence; rural suburbia
1940s modernisation; the new England
1950s hope and chemicals
1960s motor cars and urban invaders
1970s agri-business; nostalgia; folk revival
1980s conservation; New Ageism
1990s contested countryside; another new order
Running through and alongside this are three thematic streams of material;
□ Art, style and design in the rural context, because our collecting has previously been characterised primarily by technology, technique and tradition
□ Rural icons of the 20th century: material with a strong rural association or origin which has crossed over into mainstream culture.
□ Commonplace/otherwise overlooked items of importance to the countryside and country life as suggested by individuals and the public.
Friday, 21 November 2008
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I wonder what degree of regional variation in material culture has survived throughout the 20th century. As a walker, I notice variations in not just traditional items like stiles and gates (the former are starting to disappear in some areas in favour of easier access gates), but also in signs and waymarks. These are relatively commonplace items (and for all I know may well be represented in your collections) but one comes across regional and indeed local variations.
I don't know how far back metal or plastic waymark discs go, but at some point the colours for different rights of way were standardised (older examples still survive in places) , and they have often have the name of the responsible authority printed on them. More more recently a proliferation of waymarked trails has led to a variety of designs with logos or illustrations.
A selection of waymarks from around the country could illustrate the change from purely local use of footpaths to the encouragement of tourism, and also show regional variations in design of an otherwise standard item.
Jack Kirby, Birmingham
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