We went to Norwich Castle, which houses the city’s museum. And, when buying an annual pass, I was gratified to find that they have kept the concession age at 60 rather than raise it to the current retirement age. It would have been nice if the assistant had looked astonished when I claimed it, but there we go.
They have done some rearranging since I was last there and the Royal Anglian Regiment display is where the Lowestoft china used to be, though the latter is only moved to another area of the same landing. In view of the centenary of the start of the Great War, it’s understandable that they are giving it such prominence. But the Lowestoft, oh dear. There is a fabulous collection there and now it’s nearly all archived. When they had a major revamp some years ago, the decision was made to put a lot of items in store and to give those on display more space. I can’t say I agree with that, but it’s a valid argument – however, this meant that some beautiful and valuable items, bought with donated money or public finance, or given by generous benefactors, which have great local historical interest, have never been seen since except by the few who make private appointments to see them. And now, it’s far worse because even more have been stashed away. I do understand the problems of space and that nowadays museums are presented quite differently than in the past, but if one area of the cabinet was given over to temporary exhibits, so that there was a regular changeover of some of the pieces, it would be much more satisfying. I haven’t seen my favourite piece, a lovely early two-handled loving cup, for years.
I didn’t go over the whole museum, I prefer to look at a few items at a time if I’m going to be able to visit regularly, but I looked at the Norwich school paintings and the Norwich silver and then went to see the Lowestoft cat too. This room contains various collections left to the museum and has been given a makeover too. The cat collection is still there (labelled with the former owner’s name) but laid out rather better, having been given more space. However, no attempt is made to say how old each item is nor which factory it came from and the same can be said for other displays. The children will be disappointed to find that one of the odder curios has been removed (I suppose it might have been put in another room, but suspect not). This is a mummified hand, which was cut off in a duel a couple of hundred years ago. It is remarkably small, for a grown man’s hand.
I promised some reminiscences in the new year and, now my life is back to the usual round of school stuff, I think the time has come. Or it will have by tomorrow, at any rate.