Previously unseen treasures to go on display across the country in First Time Out
3 June 2013
Ten previously hidden objects, weird, wonderful and beautiful by turn, go on display in First Time Out (6 June - 31 July), a unique collaboration which sees ten museums and galleries each exhibit an artefact from their archives which has never been seen before. But in a twist, ten stories become twenty as artefacts are switched between partnered venues mid-way through the project, with fresh interpretations provided by the new hosts.
Participants are the Horniman Museum and Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Natural History Museum, London, the Science Museum and Wellcome Collection who are twinned with the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Lightbox (Woking), Peterborough Museum, Discovery Museum (Newcastle) and Waddesdon Manor, respectively.
From an exquisite Rothschild Meissen dish to a macabre bone guillotine carved by prisoners during the Napoleonic wars, the rarest of Darwin's publications to the Fool's bauble prop from a landmark performance of King Lear, the objects are as varied and surprising as the stories they tell. First Time Out brings out treasures from behind the scenes and moves them between London and the regions, giving each a chance to speak to different audiences and find new meanings. For some, this may be the only time they are ever seen by visitors.
The objects being displayed are:
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Charles Darwin's rarest work, Letters on Geology, Privately printed Cambridge, 1835, displayed with corresponding original letter
The Lightbox, Woking: Stone sculpture by Eric Gill, Torso - Woman (1913)
Horniman Museum and Gardens: Ceremonial mask of Dzunukwa or &ldquo Wild woman of the woods&rdquo from the Northwest Coast of Canada (c. 1900) - displayed in collaboration with U'mista Cultural Centre, Alert Bay, British Columbia
Royal Shakespeare Company: Fool's bauble, a prop for the RSC Production of King Lear (2007) with Sir Ian McKellen as King Lear and Sylvester McCoy as the fool
Natural Histoy Museum, London: Rough-toothed dolphin skull with ink scrimshaw decoration by unknown sailor (mid C19th)
Peterborough Museum: Model bone guillotine crafted from left over rations by Napoleonic prisoners of war (early C19th)
Science Museum: Set of ten ivory mathematical puzzles in black lacquer box, made in China (C19th)
Discovery Museum, Newcastle: First light bulb and light switch designs by Joseph Swan and John H. Holmes (1881 and late 1880s)
Wellcome Collection: Carved cigar holder representing the coronation of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1864
Waddesdon Manor: Oval dish from &ldquo New Dulong&rdquo pattern service used by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (late C18th)
Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at Wellcome Collection says "First Time Out is a disarmingly simple idea which opens up complicated questions about the millions of intriguing artefacts looked after by museums and galleries behind closed doors. At its heart are ten fascinating objects whose value is held in the different stories we tell about them. The project is generous in spirit, governed by a shared curiosity about what others&rsquo views and interpretations may lend to our own holdings. We hope that visitors, wherever they see the project, and however many pieces they see, will participate in extending this creative exchange before the objects return to their archives."
First Time Out runs from 6 June to 31 July 2013. Objects will be swapped by partner museums and galleries on 4 July.
Further information about each object is available. Please contact Tim Morley for more details.
Senior Media Officer
T 020 7611 8612
Notes to editors
Discovery Museum houses one of the finest collections of scientific and technical material outside London and keeps important collections of maritime history, social history, regimental militaria and costume. For more than two centuries developments in science, technology and industry which were pioneered or became established in Tyne & Wear had a powerful influence worldwide. Within Discovery Museum you can also find The Archives, which holds documents relating to Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland, dating from the 12th to the 21st centuries. www.twmuseums.org.uk/discovery
The Horniman Museum and Gardens opened in 1901 as a gift to the people in perpetuity from tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, to 'bring the world to Forest Hill'. Today the Horniman has a collection of 350,000 objects, specimens and artefacts from around the world. Its galleries include natural history, anthropology, music and an acclaimed aquarium. Indoor exhibits link to the award-winning display gardens - from food and dye gardens to an interactive sound garden - set among 16 acres of beautiful, green space offering spectacular views across London. Our visitors come time and again to participate in our exciting range of events and activities, sample the tasty delights from our popular cafe, and shop for interesting gifts in our gift shop. We also make our spaces available for hire including our stunning Grade II listed Victorian Conservatory built in 1894 and newly built Gardens Pavilion. www.horniman.ac.uk/
If you're passionate about the arts and history, want activities and fun, or would just like somewhere quiet to relax and think, you'll find it all at The Lightbox an award winning gallery and museum. Designed by the architects of the London Eye, Marks Barfield, the building boasts three stunning galleries that host a wide range of exhibitions, changing regularly. The building is also home to 'Woking's Story', an interactive museum of the town&rsquo s history. If you're visiting with children you'll find plenty to keep them occupied and entertained, you can complete your visit with a trip to the canal-side Café and Gift Shop. Entrance is free, find out more at www.thelightbox.org.uk/
Winner of 'Best of the Best' in the Museums and Heritage Awards 2013, the Natural History Museum, London welcomes 5 million visitors a year. It is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise the museum helps understand and maintain the diversity of our planet, with groundbreaking partnerships in more than 70 countries. For more information go to www.nhm.ac.uk/
Peterborough Museum reopened in March 2012, after a £ 3.2 million redevelopment project funded by Peterborough City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Vivacity. The Museum is one of the city's most popular attractions - drawing in tens of thousands of visitors each year. It is also one of the city's most historic buildings, dating back to Georgian times. www.vivacity-peterborough.com/
The Royal Shakespeare Company aims to keep audiences in touch with Shakespeare as our contemporary - understanding his work through today's artists, actors and writers. Therefore the Company's repertoire not only includes the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, but classic plays by international dramatists and work by living writers. The RSC also produces extensive education and outreach work to engage more people with Shakespeare's work and live theatre. The RSC's work is performed throughout the year in Stratford-upon-Avon, regularly in London and throughout the United Kingdom. Although the UK is the Company's home, its audiences are global with regular performances in international theatres. For more information about the Royal Shakespeare Company visit www.rsc.org.uk/
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew's country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract over 1.5 visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately half its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew's vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales. www.kew.org/
As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum's world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/
Waddesdon Manor, situated close to the Bucks/Oxfordshire border, was built in 1877 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to display his outstanding collection of art treasures and to entertain the fashionable world. It combines the highest quality 18th century French decorative arts, magnificent English portraits and Dutch Old Master paintings with one of the finest Victorian gardens in Britain, famous for its parterre and ornate working Aviary. The house was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957 and is now managed by a family charitable trust, the Rothschild Foundation, under the chairmanship of Lord Rothschild.
Waddesdon is the most visited historic house among England's National Trust properties. The collections are a reflection of the passions of the Rothschilds who created and have cared for Waddesdon, from Ferdinand de Rothschild, who built the Manor in the late 19th-century to Jacob, the present Lord Rothschild, through whom contemporary collecting has been revived. www.waddesdon.org.uk/
Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, Wellcome Collection explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The building comprises three gallery spaces, a public events programme, the Wellcome Library, a café , a bookshop, conference facilities and a members' club. It is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. Wellcome Collection is growing. A £ 17.5million development will deliver new galleries and spaces in late Summer 2014. Find out more.