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Museum’s Collections Put in Online Shop Window #rdg #rdguk – @readingmuseum

This is really exciting for anyone who is interested in Reading's local history!

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From: “Reading Borough Council” <>
Date: 17 Dec 2014 16:53
Subject: Museum’s Collections Put in Online Shop Window
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Museum’s Collections Put in Online Shop Window

Reading Borough Council Press Release

READING Museum has created an online showcase that will display more than 2,700 fascinating objects from its collections.

The new Collections Online catalogue, which has been created thanks to funding from Arts Council England, can be found at

A major highlight for local residents will be almost 2,000 photographs of Reading during the 20th century, many from the Reading Chronicle collection.

The website will be a growing ‘shop window’ for the museum’s diverse archaeology, art, natural history, social history and world collections.

Paul Gittings, Lead Councillor for Culture, Sport and Consumer Protection said:

“This amazing new online resource gives people even greater digital access to the Museum’s important local and international collections. There are many unique and unusual treasures to be discovered from Reading’s past.

“It has been achieved through an ongoing partnership between Reading Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life, thanks to generous funding from Arts Council England”.

The Collections Online project began last year when the project team started selecting the objects that would launch the online catalogue.

Vintage photographs of Reading, taken between 1938 and 1964, were chosen to give visitors a chance to step down memory lane and see how Reading has changed.

A diverse range of objects from Africa, North America and South America and South East Asia was selected to show Reading’s global links through the ages.

Additional objects have been added to represent other parts of the collection such as portraits from the art collection. Even more will be added in future to extend coverage to other areas of the collections.

Topics have been created to give an introduction to the collections at Reading Museum. Visitors can browse these topics to discover fascinating facts about Reading’s history and the museum’s collections.

For example the ‘Air Raid 1943’ topic reveals a series of fascinating photographs showing the Second World War bomb damage to the town centre, while the ‘Famous Faces’ topic shows many of the actors, musicians, politicians, sports people and writers that have visited Reading, such as ‘Carry On’ star Hattie Jacques opening the Battle Hospital fete in July 1962.
This time of year the ‘Christmas in Reading’ theme is sure to be of interest, including an unusual image of Father Christmas arriving at McIlroy’s department store by ‘helicopter’ in 1954.

The objects from around the world feature beautiful and unusual artefacts that were gifts from local people, usually gathered during foreign trips and missionary work in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Research by the project team has now highlighted the links between these artefacts and some of Reading’s most influential business families, including the Colliers, Suttons and Palmers.

During the project the team digitally scanned and photographed over 2,000 objects. They then researched and wrote text for each object.

The team’s research was helped by a series of advisory visits by ethnographic specialists from organisations including the Museum Ethnographers Group, the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.

Collections Online was part of ‘Reading Connections’ a partnership project between Reading Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life, funded by a £275,000 grant from Arts Council England’s Renaissance Strategic Support Fund.

The website can be found at It is also available on a kiosk on the Museum’s ground floor.


Notes for Editors:

Reading Museum
The Museum opened in 1883 with a bequest of Horatio Bland’s private museum of fascinating objects from around the world, including Greek pots and a duck-billed platypus. The collection has grown to over 500,000 objects, including those on display and in store, and the focus is now on collecting objects that have links with Reading and its people, telling stories of the local historic and natural environment as well as displaying and caring for objects from cultures around the world. The Museum’s core aim is to provide people with opportunities for learning, inspiration and enjoyment from real objects.

The Reading Chronicle Collection
The Reading Chronicle Collection is a large and historically important group of about 80,000 negatives of photographs taken by the Berkshire Chronicle between 1938 and 1964. This was a period of great change for the town from the rigours of the Second World War to the social change of post-war immigration and reconstruction. An array of events is covered, from the everyday, such as football matches and weddings, to the more unusual, including VE Day street parties, floods, the Olympic torch relay, Coronation celebrations and anti-apartheid marches.

World Collections
From the late nineteenth century, the Museum collected objects from around the world, including weapons, domestic objects and costume, particularly from West and South Africa, North and South America and South East Asia. Almost all of the objects were gifts from local people, usually gathered during visits to distant lands. Some are part of Museum’s founding Bland collection and the Stevens collection. Notable collections are Japanese ivories donated by Ambrose Petrocokino and Congolese objects collected by the Baptist Missionary Society. Since the 1950s some collecting has taken place for use in school loan boxes or to reflect Reading’s diverse communities.

Images of objects from the Museum's catalogue are available on request.

Reading Borough Council Press Releases can be found online at

Media Contact: Chris Branagan
Tel: 0118 937 4289

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