West Berkshire Council

New permanent exhibition telling the story of West Berkshire

West Berkshire Museum is delighted to announce the opening of the Lives and Landscapes exhibition.

Museum exhibition - Lives and Landscapes

West Berkshire Museum is delighted to announce the opening of the Lives and Landscapes exhibition.

The museum has gone through many phases of change since it first opened in 1904. Most recently West Berkshire Council refurbished the historic Cloth Hall and Granary buildings with major financial assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Greenham Common Trust and others. Following the re-opening in 2014 the council asked the public for feedback about the new museum. This was overwhelmingly positive although many people wanted to see a more comprehensive permanent exhibition telling the story of West Berkshire from prehistoric times to the present day. The museum is delighted to be able to respond to that with our new exhibition   Lives and Landscapes  - the story of West Berkshire.

As a result, it now has an immersive exhibition with many objects that have never been shown before, including beautifully crafted stone age tools, 4000 year old pottery, iron age hordes of gold torques and coins, a mammoth tusk excavated in Thatcham in 1936, civil war armour, the famous story of the Newbury coat, the old town stocks and artefacts from Combe Gibbet, the Greenham peace camps, the canal, local industry and much more, including a stunning 3D model and film all about the district. Together they celebrate our local heritage, from the Mesolithic to mobile phone technology.

The café has been improved to create a welcoming and relaxing space, with free Wi-Fi and displays of original artwork from local printmaker Sarah Johns.

Cllr Dominic Boeck, West Berkshire Council's Executive Member for Culture commented: "West Berkshire has a fascinating history and the museum has been refurbished to make the historic buildings fully accessible, tell the story of the area, and promote educational activities to help people of all ages to understand and enjoy their local heritage.  Since the museum re-opened it has attracted 30,000 visitors a year, three times the number that visited before the refurbishment. I'd like to thank the many museum volunteers who support the museum every day and have been heavily involved in developing the new exhibition. Do talk to our museum team if you would like to get involved or organise a visit for your school, cub, brownie and scout group or local history group."  

Launch events

Meet the Curator
Wednesday 29th March, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm

Come and talk to the museum curator Ruth Howard, who looks after the collections and co-ordinates the special exhibitions and new permanent exhibition Live and Landscapes. This event gives you a special behind the scenes view of how the exhibitions are put together and allows you to ask questions about the objects, find out more about the collection and some of the challenges involved in looking after it. You will then be taken on a guided tour of the museum where you can find out more about the heritage team and the work that we do.

Free, spaces are limited, please book your place at the museum, 01635 519562 museum@westberks.gov.uk

Family Discovery Day
Saturday 1st April

Join us for a fun packed day at the museum where you can explore what is on offer for families with a series of free medieval themed craft workshops, exhibition trail and the chance to meet special guest Blaze, the museum dragon! The Corn Exchange will be offering free taster sessions of 'Saturday Stories' where children aged 7 and under can join in with songs and rhymes as well as hear stories themed around magic, with a special story about a magic porridge pot to tie-in with objects in the museum's new permanent exhibition. And Creation Station West Berkshire will be launching their new term time sessions for babies at the museum with two free taster workshops 'Tiny Treasures' and 'Baby Discover'.

For more information about these activities and running times please visit www.westberkshireheritage.org/whats-on or contact the museum 01635 519562

Local Heritage Roadshow
Saturday 22nd April
10am - 4pm

Pop in to the museum and find out more about the many local clubs, groups and societies in the area dedicated to our local history and archaeology. Heritage staff will be on hand to advise on what's in the museum collection, what we do for schools, what to do if you discover an archaeological find, how to take care of heritage sites and assets and more. Free.

More about the exhibition
Our new permanent exhibition tells the story of West Berkshire. From the rocks under our feet to the stories of the people who have lived here; our early ancestors, to well know characters like Jack of Newbury to our most recent family: they have created the towns and villages, roads and canals, fields and farms, industries, pastimes and organisations that we know today.

This exhibition looks into historic local events which have had international resonance such as the Greenham Common protests and national events such as the battles of Newbury which are

featured alongside quieter leisure pursuits such as horse racing and theatre going. Entry is free but donations are most welcome as it helps us to buy new items to display, maintain our historic buildings and conserve our collections.

Special exhibitions
Our second floor galleries host a series of special exhibitions, along with Gallery 5 which can be hired to display original artwork, sculpture and crafts.

Entry is free

10am - 4pm Wednesday - Sunday (and Bank Holiday Mondays)