Visiting the museum (2) – History, art & textiles

Bolton’s Central Museum hasn’t always been situated where it is now. Back in 1876 Samuel Taylor Chadwick, a wealthy local doctor, left a bequest of £5,000 to Bolton Corporation for the building, furnishing and maintenance of a Museum of Natural History in Bolton Park, which was later renamed Queen’s Park. The bequest came with the conditions that the building must be erected within four years and entry to the museum would be free for everyone. Building work began in 1878 and the Chadwick Museum finally opened in June 1884, with its first curators being father and son William and Thomas Midgley who expanded the museum’s varied collections during their many years there.
By the 1930s it was recognised that the Chadwick building was too small to continue housing the museum’s growing collections so work began on fitting out a larger museum in the current town centre building ; unfortunately the outbreak of WW2 interrupted the works so the new museum didn’t open until October 1947. With the Chadwick building lying empty it fell into a state of decline and eventually the local council decided that the cost of repair and renovation would be too great, so after 73 years service to the town the building was finally demolished in 1956.
The room next to the Egyptian gallery was reminiscent of the old Chadwick Museum, and with a mock-up of the front of the old building and embroidered portraits of its founder and curators on the walls it told the story of the museum’s beginnings and early years.
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A doorway on the right led into the art gallery, and though there were some older paintings on the walls a lot of the ‘art’ was modern stuff. It was very colourful though and I did quite like a painting of ‘four amaryllis in pots’ by someone-I’ve-never-heard-of although most of the other modern stuff didn’t impress me at all. From there I moved on to the textile collection which is one of the largest in the country, though I really only had eyes for some of the bright coloured fabrics on display.
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The textile gallery
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From the textile gallery I moved on to the large main gallery where the upper floor was dedicated to the natural history section with its many displays of animals, birds and sea life from the UK and other countries, but I took so many photos in there that section will have to feature in another post.
To be continued….

6 thoughts on “Visiting the museum (2) – History, art & textiles

  1. I like the painting of the four amaryllis too, some modern art I don’t get at all. My favourite artist is Van Gogh after seeing his work in the National Gallery in London. You’re lucky to have such a wonderful museum in Bolton, I’d be in there quite often if that was near to my home.


    1. I’ve never really been into art but just occasionally I’ll be attracted to a painting regardless of its age but most modern art doesn’t do it for me at all. Have you ever been to Plas Newydd on Anglesey? There’s a huge mural there, the size of a full wall and painted by Rex Whistler – now that really is a work of art and well worth seeing 🙂


  2. What a fascinating place, and on your doorstep 🙂 I’m with Eileen – just don’t “get” most modern art. The textile gallery looks interesting . . . but you knew I would say that!


  3. That makes three of us who don’t ‘get’ most modern art. It seems that all that’s needed is to daub a few random blobs of paint onto a canvas, give it an obscure name and it’s called ‘art’ – sometimes I think my dogs could do better! I’ve come across something I think might interest you too, I’ll send you the link to it when I’ve got a minute 🙂


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