Sutton Museum and Heritage News
Information about new developments and initiatives taking place in the Museum and Heritage Service
HONEYWOOD MUSEUM NOW OPEN
The newly refurbished and redesigned Honeywood Museum is now open and local residents and visitors from all around the area have been visiting the house and leaving admiring comments on our board. Admission is now free, and everyone is welcome to see the changes in the presentation of the house and the history of the local area. The refurbishment was thanks to money from Sutton Council, a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a grant from Sutton Arts Council.
One of the many new features is Terrance, the talking Wandle trout! There are now expanded displays about the river Wandle and its influence on the life of the area, including an interactive map.
As part of the renewal funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museum has employed two part-time staff for three years to help with the activity and educational programmes. Honeywood closed for refurbishment at the end of December 2010 and re-opened on 30 May 2012. The outreach project will last three years and includes the Picture This! exhibition held both at Sutton Library and online.
LITTLE HOLLAND HOUSE IS AWARDED TWO GRANTS BY THE LONDON RENAISSANCE HUB
The unique Arts and Crafts house in Carshalton Beeches has been the recipient of two recent grants from the London Renaissance Hub - one for conservation of textiles and the other to assist the house to conserve energy under the London Green Museum Scheme - see below for the Whitehall Green Museum project.
The four curtains in the oriel window of the Living Room were looking very poorly due to the effect of a hundred years' worth of sunlight damaging the fabric and the result of many years hanging in the same position. Thanks to a grant from the London Renaissance Hub under their Collections Care Scheme we were able to get specialist textile conservators to come and take them down very carefully and give them a thorough make over in their workshop. This included cleaning, insect proofing and re-lining them and giving them a new border all the way around so they could be opened and closed without touching the fabric itself. During the cleaning process it was discovered that they had been slightly altered in the early 1970s when the house was being readied for opening to the public and the hems had been altered to make them fit a different way of hanging them. All this alteration had made the hems very heavy, which had helped to damage the fabric. Now the curtains are back to the way they were intended and are hanging in all their glory in the oriel window of the ground floor of Little Holland House in the way that Frank Dickinson had intended them to be seen.
The other grant from the London Renaissance Hub, following a sustainability action plan, drawn up by a Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) advisor went towards making the house more energy efficient and included the types of things that people are doing in their own homes, such as putting thick insulation in the loft, replacing the old inefficient gas boiler with a new condensing boiler and updating the hot water tank and its lagging. We also replaced many of the older light bulbs with new LED lights which not only use much less energy but are also much better for museum conservation as they emit no UV light - a spectrum of light which damages furniture, objects and paintings. We have also put a commitment towards using products better for the environment in the house and have also produced a folder full of information for visitors on local suppliers of Fairtrade and environmentally-friendly products. Frank Dickinson, who designed and built the house and lived there from 1904 until his death in 1961, was a very vocal campaigner against pollution and a committed supporter of the natural world, and we feel that this initiative would have met with his entire approval.
WHITEHALL IS AWARDED GOLD BY THE GREEN TOURISM BUSINESS SCHEME
Following the grants received from the Renaissance London Hub, Whitehall Museum in Cheam has been crowned one of the greenest museums in London.
The historic Tudor house was one of twelve London museums that took part in the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS). Whitehall was the only small museum to achieve a gold award, after reducing its carbon footprint by over six tonnes.
Cllr Graham Tope, Executive Member for Community Safety, Leisure and Libraries on Sutton Council, said: "Whitehall is the only small museum to have reached a gold standard, which is an outstanding achievement. All sectors have a role to play in making sure that we can live sustainably, and Whitehall is helping to show that museums can do their bit to conserve the environment, whilst still preserving our heritage. Not only have its changes saved a whopping seven tonnes of CO2, they've made the museum even better to visit, with the chance to spot new wildlife in the gardens and information about sustainability in the past."
To take part in the awards, each museum was given a grant from Renaissance London of up to £4,000 to carry out a sustainability action plan, drawn up with a GTBS advisor. Whitehall replaced all of its lights with LED bulbs which, as well as being energy efficient, don't emit UV rays which can be harmful to fragile antiques. The museum has also been working in partnership with EcoLocal and the Ecology Centre to make changes to the museum grounds, set up new exhibitions and run a series of workshops to help the community get involved in green projects.
The staff at Whitehall intend to build on their success by improving the facilities for enjoying the garden and its plants and animals, and hopefully will install some cycle racks, for visitors who choose a greener method of transport, later in the year.
Whitehall is a successful community museum, run by a partnership between Sutton Council, who own, maintain and manage the building, and the Friends of Whitehall, al local group who provide volunteers to help staff the museum as well as contributing financially.