Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Royal Visit

Prince Charles Visits The Higgins

We were very pleased to welcome His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales to The Higgins Bedford on Tuesday 3rd December. Prince Charles met with members of Carers in Bedfordshire in the Wixamtree Gallery where he was able to enjoy ‘A National Art’: Watercolour & the British Landscape Tradition. He then spoke with students from Beauchamp Middle School who were drawing in the William Burges gallery and learning about Victorian costume in the Higgins House.

In addition Prince Charles was introduced to representatives from the Townscape Heritage Initiative and local business people before engaging with pupils from Elstow Lower School who were playing with Victorian toys in Somewhere in England.

At the end of the visit, Prince Charles met with representatives from Aragon Lacemakers and signed the visitors’ book.

Even though it was a whistle-stop tour, Prince Charles made time to speak with many of the schoolchildren and visitors as he made his way around the galleries.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Weekend Bonanza!

It’s a great weekend of cultural activity in Bedford. We’re spoilt for choice!

On Friday the wonderful Theatre of Widdershins will be here with Rumpelstiltskin and the Wheel of Fortune. Its part of Bedfringe and there will be performances at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Book online here. Or call 01234 718112.

Also on Friday, we will be participating in the Festival of British Archaeology with a free drop-in. Finds Up Close is your chance to get hands on with our archaeology collections and chat to experts about the objects. Drop-in between 11am and 1pm or between 2 and 4pm.

On Saturday, we will be taking part in The Big High Street Showcase. You can find us in The Higgins History Pop-Up Shop on the High Street. Come and have a go at being a Victorian shopkeeper and recreate some High Street shopfronts. It’s free to join-in. There will be lots of things going on as Bedford High Street will be transformed with dancing, music, classic cars, craft markets and much more.

On Saturday and Sunday between 10 and 4pm, The Higgins Bedford’s group of young archaeologists – Saturday Archaeology Workshops will be excavating for Roman remains at Priory Country Park. Park visitors can view the excavations and join short history walks of the Priory site.

Also look out for BedPop Shop at the Tourist Information Centre and some mini-golf on Midland Road from BCA and artist, Andy Holden.

Phew. It’s going to be busy. See you there. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

GALA CONCERT - 21st May 2013

The Friends of the Higgins, together with the Friends of the John Bunyan Museum, will mark the reopening of the Higgins with a gala concert on Tuesday 21st May.  The City of London Chamber Choir, conducted by Christopher Field, will perform a celebratory programme of traditional and contemporary choral music.  The event, which starts at 7pm, will be held at the Bunyan Meeting, Mill Street, Bedford. Tickets cost £12, and can be obtained from the Art Centre and Gallery,  Howard Street, Bedford, or the John Bunyan Museum Shop, Mill Street, Bedford.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We Can't Wait to See You! - We're re-opening on 21st June 2013

We are very excited to announce that we will be re-opening on the 21st June 2013 with a Dawn till Dusk celebration.

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: The opening of The Higgins Bedford is a tremendously exciting event for Bedford town centre, marking the creation of a major cultural attraction for local residents and visitors to enjoy. Internationally renowned art will be on display in the very best modern facilities, while the story of Bedford Borough will be brought to life in the state-of-the-art surroundings. The redeveloped Higgins Bedford belongs to us all, and I hope local people of all ages will come along time and again to enjoy what is on offer. 

In the face of extremely challenging economic conditions we have a stream of town centre regeneration projects coming to fruition, bucking the trend of decline for high streets elsewhere. Together these projects and the major investment in our town centre will increase footfall dramatically and send the clear message that Bedford town centre is a vibrant, enjoyable place to visit.      

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, who have supported the project with a £959,000 grant said: “It's exciting to see this project come to fruition. These are wonderful collections and it's fantastic that they are going to once more be available for those who know them from old as well as whole new audiences.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, who have supported the project with a £959,000 grant said: “It's exciting to see this project come to fruition. These are wonderful collections and it's fantastic that they are going to once more be available for those who know them from old as well as whole new audiences.”

One of the first exhibitions at the redeveloped facility will be A Sense of Place; an exhibition of artwork by ten community groups that have worked with The Higgins Bedford over the course of the redevelopment. Curated by artists Alex Julyan and Lucy Wilson, the exhibition explores the groups responses to a sense of place. The show will feature works by Aragon Lacemakers, Barford Avenue textile group, Pavenham Rushwork, Beds Garden Carers and many more.

Already new displays have been prepared, and many familiar (and less familiar) objects are returning to the building. The Zodiac Settle, designed by William Burges, will be on display for the first time since it was acquired in 2011. The settle (a kind of canopied bench) will be displayed in the new Burges Gallery, a hexagonal room with a dramatic vaulted ceiling, alongside the rest of the spectacular collection of his furniture.

The opening of The Higgins Bedford provides the finishing touch to the Cultural Quarter in the Castle Quay area of Bedford Town Centre. The redeveloped facility completes a comprehensive regeneration which has already seen the exposure and interpretation of archaeology in the grounds of Bedford Castle and newly opened restaurants, bars and shops adding to the vibrant atmosphere.

The major transformation and successful redevelopment of the Higgins Bedford has only been possible thanks to the commitment and support of donors and trustees, and Bedford Borough Council would like to thank them for championing this project throughout.

We want to thank you all for your support throughout the project. We really can't wait to see you. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Making Mounts at The Higgins

We have started to fill The Higgins’s beautiful new display cases with our much missed objects, but it is not always as easy as placing an object on a shelf.

I like nothing more than visiting museums and going around exhibitions and before we started on this redevelopment I was blissfully unaware of the work that had gone into the display. Now, I notice the text size and layout of the labels, what the label holders are like, the lighting system, the cases, the wall colour, the barrier systems and more besides. After this week I will start noticing the mounts that hold the objects too.

I’d never really given mounts much thought, or even really noticed them, which turns out to be a good thing. If you are distracted by how the object is held in place then the mount makers are doing it wrong. Lucky for us then that our mount makers are great. They have made mounts for displays at the Museum of London, the British Library, the British Museum and many more.

I’ve been trying to take some snaps of them at work to try and give you an idea of what’s involved.

The larger cases have involved lots of planning as there are so many objects in them. Here are the paper cut outs of the cups and saucers that we used them to arrange a layout. Colin (the mount maker) suggested all the ways that we could display them to their best advantage.
Here is Colin with the finished layout, marking numbers on each of the cups and saucers so that he can match them with the mounts he is going to make for them.

At this point all of the objects have been measured and an individual mount made for each one. With the teacups and saucers there are two types of mount, a brass armature for the saucers and a perspex shelf for the cups and teapots. This is one of the shelves.

 Little acrylic pegs are attached to the shelves to keep the objects in place.

A side view of the mounts with their objects in place.

 In another case this lovely little bodkin case had a mount made for it by Jon. We wanted it to sit up on the base of the case so it could be seen better. The mount has silicon tubing on it to protect the china.

The object in place.

Victoria Partridge
Keeper of Fine and Decorative Arts

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Your Paintings

Your Paintings

128 paintings from The Higgins Bedford’s collection are featured in a major new initiative intended to showcase the UK’s entire collection of oil paintings, and we are marking the occasion with a series of postcards to collect and an interactive project for everyone to enjoy. 

‘Your Paintings’ is a joint initiative between the BBC and the Public Catalogue Foundation that aims to increase access to the many oil paintings held in public collections within the UK. So far, the public catalogue foundation has photographed 212,000 oil paintings, and the BBC has presented all of these paintings on the Your Paintings website - www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/

This February there will be events across the UK celebrating the completion of the nation's Your Paintings website. The Higgins, Bedford is celebrating too. There are 128 of Bedford’s oil paintings, held at The Higgins, which are featured on the site, and we have printed six of them as postcards. Each of the six postcard designs shows a historic view of Bedford. These postcards can be picked up at independent shops and restaurants, the Tourist Information Centre or Bedford Central Library. 

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “We are marking the Higgins Bedford’s contribution to this fantastic national project by celebrating six historic views of Bedford. We hope that people enjoy matching and comparing the historic views with the sites as they are now, and hope that the project makes people look forward to visiting The Higgins Bedford when it re-opens.”

Why not match one of these historic views with the current view? This can be achieved by taking a photo that includes the postcard view, as well as the contemporary equivalent. Send photos to:
Twitter: @higginsbedford #yourpaintings

No prizes...it’s just for fun!

Explore more of the collection at Your Paintings