2018 has been a big year for the museum here’s a quick re-cap of the year!
January: We started the year with a great program of Antarctic Talks. The 2018 Antarctic Lecture Series was our best attended and as a result we have extended the program in 2019! The Museum was only half open, and we battled with keeping the museum open for visitors, limited space and allowing contractors the space to do what they needed to do.
February: One of our most popular topics of the Antarctic lecture series was on Albatross’. This coincided with the arrival of our newest acquisition a Black Browed Albatross with its wings in full span. The Albatross arrived and was met by the Gilbert White team and South Today to see it raised to the ceiling of the Discovery Room.
March: After battling through the snow in March we managed to open our new galleries and shop on Good Friday. Meeting our ‘open for Easter’ target despite building work being weeks behind.
April: As the first visitors saw the new Frank Oates’ Gallery we marked his birthday with a lecture given by two historians from the University of Southampton placing Frank within the context of exploration in Africa at that time.
May: The 12th of May was a momentous day as the Museum was formally opened by Countryfile’s Tom Heap. We celebrated with an open day for all and had nearly 8,000 people on site! We were joined by the amazing Lions of Zululand who danced and sang all day ( even in the rain!) and created an excellent atmosphere to the event. On the same day we launched the digitised version of White’s original manuscript on our website.
June: So came the heatwave that never ended! Luckily the Unusual Plants Fair was saved from the 30 degree heat that came before and after and we had a very successful event. June was also the peak of our wedding season, this year we had a record number of weddings, almost one every weekend between April and September!
July: After months of delays, in July we were finally able to move the pop-up café that had been running since September 2017 into its new home. Work wasn’t quite finished but it was great to finally get a feel of the amazing things to come for White’s café, and just look how much the café’s grown in the few months it’s been open!
August: The Summer holidays this year were tricky for a reason we’d never thought we’d say… the sun! Usually we are begging for fine weather, but the three month heatwave (which would have had Gilbert writing in his journal I’m sure) meant that the garden was looking parched, with events such as the Georgian Fair suffering from the heat, typically we had torrential rain for our outdoor theatre!
September: In September our second temporary exhibition launched, WILD. This art exhibition was our first major exhibition in the new Discovery Room Space; it featured art work inspired by Selborne and the work of Gilbert White by four local artists, Fiona Pierce, Lisa Bartlett, Karen Burling and Penny Fleet.
October: Rosemary Irwin received an MBE from Buckingham Palace for her work in education and in the local community. Rosemary stepped down as Chair of Trustees in the Summer after almost 10 years in the post.
November: The Education team (Louise and Emily) celebrated being awarded a Sandford Award at the Tower of London. The Sandford is a marker for excellence in heritage education, and a fantastic achievement. And speaking of awards, this year we also renewed our Accreditation award showing that we cohere with UK Museums Standards.
December: 2018 has been a year of change, but it has been great to celebrate Christmas in the new spaces we’ve created, and to embark in a new era. In December we announced that our new Chair of Trustees is Francis Davis!