Bridie’s Favourite Works of Art

A talented young pupil named Bridie has joined us this week for her work experience. We asked her to write about something she liked and Bridie has chosen to look closer at some of the stunning work in the Artwork 2019 exhibtion, which you can see for yourself until Saturday 8 February and in 20 Years of the Friends Purchase Prize, on until Saturday 18 April. Plan your visit here.

If you would like to apply for work experience at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, email, introduce yourself and tell us what you’re interested in. We can’t guarrantee a place but we will try our best.

Over to you, Bridie:

Not only does the museum display an incredible range of historic artefacts surrounding our area and resident history, but they also include not one, but two fantastic galleries, equally proffering a multitude, and clear variety of artworks by local artists and more.

A few of my personal favourite pieces from the student’s work in Gallery 1 include:

Anthony by Nicole Broadhurst

This piece exudes a strong understanding of light and colour, through its use of oils on the canvas. The anatomy and textures also add to the ‘strong’ look of this piece, clearly presenting a finalised and well-executed artwork.

artwork 01

Marine Inspirations by Year Ten Pupils

The multiple sea-life inspired ceramics are very interesting to view, due to the expressive range within the display case, and how each student has chosen to interpret the idea surrounding ‘sea-life’. My personal favourite was a well-textured, almost skeletal looking fish with a colour contrast of blue and orange.

artwork 02

Cityscape Silhouette by Chloe Foster

Black and white allow this piece to present the amazing amount of detail gone into it, with clear-cut use of the black paper, and simple canvas, this ‘Cityscape Silhouette’ almost appears to be a finely detailed painting.

artwork 03

However, Gallery 2 also offers some fine pieces of work within its current showcase, some of my favourites being:

Collapsing Barn by Clare Benson

Awarded the ‘Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery Prize at the 2013 Derbyshire Open Art Competition’, this oil-pastel painting combines a clear understanding of perspective, with an excellent eye for colour. The presentation of rust on the barn stood out to me as an interesting and aesthetic technique too.

artwork 04

Eyam Hall by Leri Kinder

This watercolour-based artwork was awarded the same prize as ‘Collapsing Barn’, only in 2016 instead. I really enjoyed the painterly techniques employed within this piece, as the lack of excessive strokes created a wonderfully simplistic yet visually-appealing image.

artwork 05

Gritstone VII by Peter H. Gill

While small, this mixed-media creation beautifully defines its shapes and textures in order to illustrate the idea of a rock formation. Colour contrasts with the light, aquamarine blues and deep, muddy-reds also express a similar ‘vibe’, coming across as a stunningly-stylised artwork.

artwork 06

The Greatest Mermaid

This week, he have enjoyed the assistance of a school pupil named Eleanor who decided on Buxton Museum and Art Gallery for her work experience. The staff found Eleanor to be energetic and enthusiastic and her knowledge of the Marvel Comics Universe unparalleled. We encouraged her to write about something she found interesting and like many visitors to the museum, Eleanor was fascinated by the Victorian mermaid on display (first written about here) and how it related to a recent film she had seen called The Greatest Showman, where Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum. Over to you, Eleanor:

P.T. Barnum was an American showman, politician and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he had had “freaks” perform and do tasks the average person couldn’t do. Some of these acts include the Fiji mermaid, the top half of a under-developed monkey and half of a fish sewn together to look like a mermaid and General Tom Thumb, a small boy who Barnum taught to sing, dance and impersonate famous people.

The Derbyshire Mermaid. Photo by Nick Lockett

It is believed that Barnum mistreated his “freaks” and used them for his own financial gain. One such case was Krao who was sold to Barnum after her parents were captured during an expedition to Laos. Her mother was detained in Bangkok and her father died. She was exploited as “The Missing Link” between humans and apes and toured throughout Europe for 70 years until she died of influenza (flu) in 1926.

Another case was Myrtle Corbin who was named “The Four-Legged Woman” because of an under developed twin who gave her two pelvises and four legs. She was bought by Barnum from her family aged 13.

Feodor Jeftichew was a boy suffering from hypertrichosis, (excessive hair growth all over the body). He was nicknamed “Dog Boy” when he joined Barnum and was made to bark, growl, and act like an angry dog and was even pitted against his own father (who suffered from the same condition) as a wild savage. In 1898, a group of performers protested against being called freaks and Feodor was at the forefront.

General Tom Thumb, one of Barnum’s most famous performers, was only 5 years old when Barnum took him on tour where he was made to drink wine and smoke cigars for the amusement of others. He was also a personal favourite of Queen Victoria who loved “freak shows”. His marriage to Lavinia Warren was exploited by Barnum making both of them stand in many positions in full attire weeks before the real wedding. He sold photos for 20p (£12.86 in 2018). When he died, Barnum bought a life-sized statue of him and placed it as a head stone. When his wife Lavinia died, she was buried next to him with her gravestone only reading “his wife”.

Extreme close up. Photo by Nick Lockett

At the age of 80, Phineas Taylor Barnum died of a stroke in his home in 1891 and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport. The circus was left to Bailey who carried it on until his death in 1906 when leaders of the amusement world, the Ringling brothers purchased the show and combined it with their own.

To gaze upon the beauty of the mermaid yourself, click here to plan your visit. Admission free!

To learn more about P.T. Barnum, visit this museum.


Gabrielle’s Work Experience

Our second work experience student this year, Gabrielle Clewett, was a most enthusiastic and helpful young lady. We asked her to describe her experience at the museum:

On the week beginning 23rd May, I started my work experience and even though I was only there for a week (well unfortunately I only had 4 days because I had a GCSE exam) they gave me lots of fun and different jobs to do with different members of staff.

When I first arrived there on the Monday, I wasn’t really that nervous as I had been to meet Mr Perry in late March to talk about my work experience placement but as it was my first day working there and I still had butterflies in my stomach. When I went in, I was shown around the Museum and where all the fire exits were and then got straight into work. In the morning, I had the opportunity to condition and record bits of pottery from thousands of years ago and photograph them as well and then after I had my lunch, I got to look at the lithics which was really interesting as I didn’t really know much about them until I came here.

The rest of the week I got to do visitor survey data entries, collections data entries (this was quite challenging as it was hard to read other people’s handwriting!). Also, I got to promote talks for the museums in July via social media on a word document which was good practice for my English persuasive writing skills and in the afternoon I got to take pictures for my blog.

I also got to see what it was like to be behind the desk which was a bit nerve-wracking for me but I soon got the hang of it! Not only did I get to do that, I got to help organise all the books in the shop and use one of those price sticker label guns (I’ve always wanted to use that!). I have really enjoyed my short but productive week here at the Museum and I really recommend for anyone doing work experience that this is definitely the place to go!


Luckily for me I don’t have to go back to school next week because it is half-term which is good!

Lewis’ Work Experience

We recently had the pleasure of a very polite and enthusiastic young man named Lewis Russell temporarily joining the team for work experience. We often find that the younger generations are more adept with technology than some of us older staff so their contribution to the workload can be genuinely helpful.

Lewis was kind enough to provide us with some reflection on his time at the museum. You can also see some of his excellent photography. Over to you, Lewis:

During the end of March 2016, I started my work experience at Buxton Museum. I was excited to go (but a bit nervous) as I have been to the museum many times before and have really enjoyed it and found it interesting. When I first arrived I was greeted and shown around the building. I was then introduced to many members of staff and got talked through all the health and safety information.

On my first day I was given a task which involved photographing various museum objects from gemstones to fossils. I really enjoyed photographing as I found it interesting and fun to do. During the afternoon I got the chance to digitally record object information. I did this with the help of a piece of software called Modes which the museum regularly uses. Since I never used this software before, I found it very exciting to do so because I am studying ICT at college and like testing different types of software.

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Throughout the week I did many other tasks including getting the chance to condition objects, helping to move a canvasses to various facilities and even using Adobe Photoshop to edit the appearance of objects ready for them to be printed off for the display. I love using Photoshop and have great skills in using it, so I was very happy I got the chance to use it for a much more professional purpose.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at the Buxton Museum as I learnt much more about the place and its IT side, worked alongside some great and friendly people and learnt new skills for later in life.

Charlie’s Fortnight at Buxton Museum

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery offers work experience placements to students. We recently enjoyed the company of a very polite and enthusiastic young man named Charlie Hyland. After two weeks, we asked him to write about his experiences. Over to you, Charlie:

On the first day of my work experience, I was intrigued to see the museum lifestyle. It certainly isn’t what it seems from the outside. Nervous pre-work feelings didn’t help as I was stuck outside for ten minutes trying to find the doorbell!


Straight away, I was whisked away into my ‘office’ to get on with sorting the lithics (small stone tools). This was a mammoth task. The lithics were found during a recent field walk between Hartington lower quarter running North-East to Barlow, studying over a thousand fields in the process. I was left to make a start, and as it was the first day I was totally immersed in the excitement of lithics. I hadn’t realised that it was going to be the prominent activity throughout my placement. It was very important to make a start on this project because it gives a guideline for other people to follow on from where I left off. It was also a great help as the re-packing is dramatically decreasing the surface area of the collection, allowing it to be fitted much more easily into the vast museum stores.


On day two, I was introduced to Ben and Les who are the team who sort out the exhibitions and technical difficulties. We took down the previous exhibition by Christopher J. Beard. His artwork was replaced by the late Arto Funduklian who was Armenian and moved to Buxton for the latter of his life, building up a collection of paintings. When he passed away, his brother handed his collection over to Buxton museum and it has stayed here ever since. The collection includes Arto’s infamous turtle shell glasses.

The remainder of week one was filled with a similar range of events consisting predominantly of lithics with the occasional trip into the stores. It went quite fast so as the phrase goes, I must have been having fun.

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After a short weekend break, I returned for week two to carry on my work with lithics, but as time progressed I was given more responsibility and went on a trip to the very exotic- sounding Melandra but unfortunately it was only in nearby Glossop. I was allowed to arrange the Melandra collection case in Glossop Library.

Afterwards, we visited Melandra Castle where we met the enthusiastic archaeologist Mike Brown. It was interesting to hear the historical value of this location and how it had been used throughout the ages. On the other hand, it was demoralising to hear how the site had received so much support over time but gradually lost it until it became an overgrown out-of-the-way place few people know exists.


Later on, after finishing the tea supply, I was finished with lithics for one day and was lucky enough to go and tidy up the mineral collection in the museum stores. This was particularly interesting to me as minerals are one of my main areas of interest and it was fascinating to see the large collection the museum held from Derbyshire.

My work experience has been fantastic because I feel that the museum team had organised it very well. I always had something to do; normally lithics sorting, but whenever someone went out to do something more interesting, I was given the opportunity to engage myself: Gallery work with Les and Ben, archaeology trips with Joe and Dave to and visiting the museum stores where mysteries and treasures can be found.


Unfortunately, I have to return to school *yawn* and I wish I could stay as it is certainly a lot more fun. All in all, it has been a great experience for me, I hope the Collections in the landscape project goes well and is finished with ease. I look forward to seeing the newly renovated museum.

Charlie Hyland