June 24, 2015 - Marc Allum
BBC Antiques Roadshow specialist Marc Allum visits the American Museum in Britain and dresses up for the occasion!
I love a museum that really involves and interacts with its visitors. The American Museum does just that. Before you even arrive, the leafy winding approach makes its glorious home of Claverton Manor feel like a personal voyage of discovery, a jewel at the end of a slightly determined personal desire to experience something that is both unexpected and well worth the effort of its splendidly isolated and beautiful rural setting. With two of my American friends in tow, they were quite plainly a little bemused by the existence of such a dedicated museum in the rolling countryside of East Somerset!
I’m a collector and within minutes of arriving my interest was piqued by a wonderful Haida argillite pipe, similar to one that I have at home.
Admittedly, I’m not one for reading the introductory boards, probably because I often tend to have a bit of a head start, but I do love a dressing-up box and it wasn’t long before I had adopted the garb of a rather demonic looking Pilgrim Father.
So, you can plainly see that within minutes of arriving I was already hooked, immersed in the museum and ready to spend the next few hours sampling the eclectic nature of the wide-ranging collection.
Room settings work well. One of my favourite museums is the Geffrye in East London, a highly tangible collection of English domestic interiors. This, for me, was one of the similar highlights of the American Museum. The experience of objects and furniture from different epochs, displayed in room settings in close proximity to the viewer together with helpful staff, is a wonderfully insightful way of enhancing the understanding of both American history and its close connection with British history too.
From the fine collection of quilts and textiles, to pressed glass, folk art and the culturally diverse representations of other early immigrants such as the Pennsylvanian Dutch, the museum covers a myriad of topics, ethnicity and Native American issues that emphasises the rich historical and racial diversity of the USA. The museum is a bucolic gem, the grounds are stunning and it has a rather lovely restaurant too!
April 26, 2017
Conestoga Wagon : Fred Giles’ Prize Model
Fred Giles visited the American Museum in September 1975 and saw our Conestoga wagon. It sparked an idea, and many years later his […]
April 18, 2017
You never know where life will take you!
Here at the American Museum our volunteers come from many different towns around Bath but most travel just a few […]
April 6, 2017
‘The War to End all Wars’, President Woodrow Wilson, 1917
One hundred years ago today America declared war on Germany, and on the Austro-Hungarian Empire the following day. Staff members […]
African-American American arts Bath Spa University behind-the-scenes Christmas Churchill Civil War collections colour costume craft fair curatorial displays events exhibition Fair families Family Fun film flowers Folk Art garden Gardens grounds groups Kaffe Fassett learning literature loan museum Museum Volunteer Native American photography politics quilts review takeoverday Talks Textiles The Last Runaway Tracy Chevalier volunteering workshops yarn bombing