Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is celebrating 125 years of welcoming visitors through its doors with the unveiling of a new exhibition.
Collectors and Curiosities was opened by Oliver Gomersal, 97, whose father Arthur was one of the museum’s first benefactors.
The museum would hardly be recognisable now to the first visitors in 1983. It has recently undergone a major refurbishment, bringing it right up to date, with new galleries complemented by an interactive web app called Wonders of the Peak.
The museum, now on Terrace Road, was first opened in the Town Hall. It displayed gifts of archaeology from local excavations. Mr Gomersal can remember visiting the museum there as a child. He has known all 10 curators throughout the museum’s history.
Over the years many hundreds of people have helped make the collections grow so that today the museum collections are recognised for their significance, as they tell the story of the geology and archaeology of the Peak District.
Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council, which runs the museum, attended the opening of the new exhibition.
He said: “Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is home to a magnificent and growing collection of art and artefacts. It was wonderful to be present as 125 years of collecting was marked by a celebratory display of objects and to be able to listen to the memories of Mr Gomersal, who gave a speech, with his unique link to the museum’s first days.”
The museum’s first painting was given by a Belgian refugee, Josef van Reeth. Generous benefactors including Arthur Gomersal of Buxton; Rupert Turner, Director of Ferodo in Chapel-en-le-Frith; and Arto Funduklian, the son of an Armenian refugee, who studied in Paris in the early 1920s, have all made sure the art collection became significant, representing artists from England and Europe.
The museum continues to collect artworks and between 2008 and 2013 added several important views of Derbyshire to the collection with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and a Beecroft bequest from the Museums Association.
For the last 37 years, the museum has added the winner of the annual Derbyshire Art Competition to the collection.
The museum’s recent makeover was funded by Derbyshire County Council, the Heritage Lottery fund, Arts Council England and the Wolfson Foundation. The new galleries are filled with hundreds of artefacts, which together tell stories about the Peak District and Buxton.
Councillor Lewis was joined by Chairman of Derbyshire County Council, Councillor George Wharmby, and the Mayor of High Peak Borough Council, Councillor Linda Grooby.