I noted in the press today that Narberth Museum is in the shortlist for an award for the best new museum. I went to see it when it first opened last year and was seriously impressed. It is a genuinely splendid attraction for the town, and without the enthusiasm and hard work of volunteers it would not be there. The article that follows was written by me for the Tivyside Advertiser after that first visit.
Quilters at Narberth’s New Museum
The recently opened museum in Narberth is currently hosting a lavish exhibition of quilts, the work of the Landsker Quilters and friends. This is an inspired choice for a first show alongside the permanent exhibits; some 1,500 items of historic interest from the surrounding area.
From decorative wall hangings, to extravagant silky king-sized quilted throws for beds, the designs and colours add much to the atmosphere of the museum. Quilting is an ancient skill, and there have been quilts made in Wales since around the 15th century. They have often played a part in family history, and were made traditionally for weddings and for christenings. They are still made, more often than not, for giving within families, and now and again they are made for commissions. This show is a brilliant opportunity to observe the scope and range of styles in the individual quilters work.
The new museum itself is less than three weeks old and the new building is beautifully designed to make everything on show readily accessible and yet also displayed with great attention to detail.The internal arrangement follows a well-matched series of themed items and interesting stories of local characters, who have influenced history, like Stanley Lewis, whose father introduced radio into Pembrokeshire in 1923 when for the first time local people could tune in. There is a potted history of what a Bonded Store was and how grant funding from the Heritage Lottery was used to raise Narberth’s derelict Bonded Store from steep decline into this marvellous museum which is also a centre for the community. There is a coffee shop, a bookshop, an education suite and research facilities, computer-interactive facilities, and hands-on experiences to be had, and a splendid room for conferences. Show. Like the quilting exhibition, there will be regular space made for all aspects of local arts and crafts, reflecting today’s makers alongside those of the past.
What would be nice would be a new and lovely museum in Cardigan town, but that looks like being another millenium away before there is the enthusiasm or the commitment to make it happen.