Packed programme for Sidmouth Museum’s 2016 season

Nigel Hyman takes over as Sidmouth Museum curator. Ref shs 1908-42-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Nigel Hyman takes over as Sidmouth Museum curator. Ref shs 1908-42-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

The new curator of Sidmouth Museum will welcome guests to the venue with ‘something for everybody’ when it reopens on Wednesday (March 23).

Its umbrella organisation, the Sid Vale Association (SVA), is making a push for new members to increase income and volunteers to run its many activities throughout the town.

The museum’s own funding comes from donations, shop sales and the SVA - but not the Keith Owen Fund - so its bosses are always eager to get people through the doors.

Hilary Briers, who is in charge of publicity, said: “Museums have transformed dramatically over recent years, from being dark, dusty and forbidding places with few visitors speaking only in whispers, to centres of community involvement.

“Sidmouth Museum is no exception. Well positioned in Hope Cottage at the end of Church Street, the museum offers something for everybody of all ages.”

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New for 2016 is a history of the early postal service, an exhibition of the museum’s best costumes, including the town crier, and the story of Sidbury’s Elizabethan building, Sand.

They stand alongside permanent displays including Sidmouth’s railway, local lace making, Victoriana and prehistoric reptile footprints. This year, the museum is introducing a Saturday morning ‘drop-in’ for youngsters.

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Space is so tight that only a minority of the collection can be displayed and there is precious little room to work. To address this – and provide its first HQ in its 170-year history – the SVA is purchasing the ‘eminently appropriate’ site above what was Trumps. Renovations will take place towards the end of the year.

Museum curator Dr Nigel Hyman said: “With around 13,000 visitors a year, we are an important tourist attraction.

“However, we would like to attract more visits from local residents who, we hope, would be pleased and perhaps surprised by the rich variety of our collection.

“We are always keen to attract new volunteers - there is a wide spectrum of roles from stewarding and town walks to more specific museum activities.”

SVA experts investigate enquiries about the Sid Valley and museum volunteers lead three walks a week on the town’s interesting buildings, landmarks and geology.

From Wednesday, the museum will be open from 1pm to 4pm on Monday and from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday. Admission is free.

Visit for information on becoming a member, or pick up an application form from the museum.

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