4,000 visitors flock to museum in first week of new Staffordshire Hoard exhibition
August 15, 2012
Thousands of visitors have flocked to a museum in the first week of a massive new exhibition of the Staffordshire Hoard.
A total of 4,000 visitors flooded through the doors of The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent, in the seven days since 226 ancient artefacts from the Anglo-Saxon collection went on display last Saturday (21 July).
The Dark Age Discovery exhibition features more than double the amount of hoard artefacts that have previously been displayed at the museum. The 2,600 sq ft gallery is also the first time ever in the UK that individual artefacts from the collection have been seen fitted together. This includes a mystery item, and the hilt from a seax – short sword – featuring five separate hoard pieces joined together.
Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development, said: “It is great to have attracted so many people to the museum for the start of the exhibition. The gallery is stunning, it is fabulous to see so many artefacts together, and displayed in the context of other Anglo-Saxon items from our vast museum collection. The use of technology is superb too – it is the first time we have used iPad touch screens to provide interactive information and the highest quality images of the treasure that have yet been taken.
“We have had hundreds of families come through the doors for the start of the summer holidays, and had coach trips from as far afield as Mansfield, Sheffield and Dorset.
“The gallery is very spacious and we have a team of very helpful volunteers who have kindly given up their time to make visitors welcome and answer questions about the treasure. So I’d urge everyone, from people who are passionate about these fascinating artefacts to families looking for a great day out during the school holidays, to come along to the museum and see the exhibition for themselves.”
The exhibition took nine months to plan and has been created using a £40,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It also features replicas of Anglo-Saxon martial materials to show how hoard artefacts were worn by ancient warriors, including a reconstructed sword, shield and helmet. A giant timeline of Britain dating from 300AD to 1066 sets the hoard in the context of other significant developments in the nation’s history. And the gallery also features sections on on-going research and conservation work, and the Christian and Pagan symbolism of the treasure.
Councillor Meredith added: “When the hoard first went on display at the museum in February 2010, 55,000 people saw it in just three weeks. The response was incredible, and brought people to the city from all four corners of the country as well as international visitors too. That exposure provided a massive economic boost to the city centre, and local businesses embraced the arrival of the treasure.
“We hope to attract many thousands more people to the new exhibition, and that those visitors continue to explore and spend money in our city.”
The ‘Staffordshire Hoard: Dark Age Discovery’ exhibition is free to enter, but visitors are encouraged to pledge their support to the museum by making a donation. The display runs until 1 September 2013. The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is open 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday and 2pm – 5pm on Sundays.