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05 April 2019

May is Victorian Month at the Museum

By Julie Williams

May is Victorian Month at the Museum

The Wisbech and Fenland Museum is celebrating Queen Victoria's 200th birthday this month with some great activities for children and adults linked to its exhibition of African objects collected on an ill-fated 1841 expedition up the river Niger.

Many of the strikingly beautiful textiles and artefacts from the collection have never been seen by the public before.

They've been in the museum archive since they were donated by William Peckover in 1854.

Curator Robert Bell said: “As the museum itself is an almost perfectly-preserved Victorian treasure house we decided to bring out this amazing collection in memory of a well-intentioned mission supported by Prince Albert and Her Majesty's government as well as the Peckover family.

“The Niger expedition set off in three steamships upriver from the Niger delta with the aim of promoting trade in goods, not slaves  – but tragically more than half its members were killed by fever within a month, and their mission was abandoned.”

The goods were bought along the river by the expedition's naturalist, Dr William Stanger of Tydd Gote, who was one of a handful of European survivors.  They were sold from his estate after his death in 1854.

The exhibition runs from May 11 to June 15.

  • From May 28 to June 1, there's a free half-term holiday craft workshop at the museum from 11am to 3pm daily where children can try making masks inspired by African art and other crafts and add their contribution to a floor-map of West Africa which traces the course of the mighty river Niger.
  • On Saturday, May 18 from 11am to 3pm, adults and children alike can drop in for a free Hey Clay! make and create in clay session with local artist Rachel from Big Sky Arts. Come along and have a go.
  • On May 24-25 all ages are welcome to follow the museum's Victoria and Albert Trail for Victoria's bicentennial. You'll be invited to find objects from the Great Exhibition of 1851, including model dinosaurs bought as souvenirs 170 years ago.

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