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Dorset Museum to display star painting from Victoria and Albert Museum

April 22, 2022

A star object from the Victoria and Albert Museums collection is due to go on display in a new exhibition being held at Dorset Museum.

A Village Choir, by Thomas Webster. Oil painting. Great Britain, 1847. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Hardy’s Wessex – The Landscapes which Inspired a Writer, running from 28 May 2022 until 30 October 2022, is a partnership exhibition which spans Dorset, Poole, Salisbury and Wiltshire museums. It tells the story of Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, amidst the Wessex landscapes which shaped his view of the world. The exhibition will be the largest collection of Hardy objects to ever be displayed at one time. Each museum will focus on various topics which Hardy covers, with the Dorset Museum focusing on the rural landscapes which inspired Hardy and exploring themes of animal welfare and social tensions.

Thanks to support from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, each museum will have a ‘star’ loan object. For Dorset Museum this will be A Village Choir, an oil painting by Thomas Webster, 1847 which is on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It depicts a village choir, illustrating the various ‘characters’ who might be found there. The painting captures a snapshot of rural life – similar to the community that Hardy grew up in. It also evokes the kind of characters found in Hardy’s novels such as Far from the Madding Crowd and Under the Greenwood Tree.

Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first-ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.

Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “This exhibition on one of our most celebrated Victorian writers is a wonderful example of what the Weston Loan Programme sets out to do – we are so pleased to be able to support the display of such special objects in the places that inspired and were reflected in, Hardy’s work.”

Dorset Museum’s interim director, Elizabeth Selby, said: “Dorset Museum is thrilled to be receiving Thomas Webster’s 1847 painting A Village Choir on loan from the Victorian and Albert Museum, London, made possible through the Weston Loans Programme. The involvement of Hardy’s family in the local village church choir was extremely important in his upbringing and influenced his work, most importantly the novel Under the Greenwood Tree. The inclusion of this painting in the Dorset Museum section of the exhibition which spans four sites gives a wonderful flavour of the rural landscape in which Hardy grew up.”

Harriet Still, curator of the exhibition for Wessex Museums, said “We are hugely grateful for this funding which is enabling us to display such significant objects…A Village Choir is a snapshot of rural life, capturing the typical local ‘characters’ found in Hardy’s writing.’

“Together with the extensive collections from our partner museums, all these objects will combine to make an immersive, thought-provoking and memorable Hardy experience.”

Discover more about Hardy’s Wessex Exhibition.

Find out more

 

Special Exhibition

28 May – 30 October 2022

Take a fresh look at the Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, in the stunning Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world. His story will be retold in exciting new ways by our museum collections, from period costumes to personal letters, art to archaeology.

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Workshop

17 September 2022, 10:00am - 4:00pm

Robin Mackenzie Wood Engraving Workshop

This one-day workshop is perfect for beginners looking to learn a new technique, or for those who have done a little engraving and wish to progress their technique further.

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Community Exhibition

20 June – 16 September 2022

Plastics are not Fantastic

In this exhibition students from Weymouth College express their thoughts about the environment through posters, pledges and artwork.

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Tours

16 August 2022, 10:00am - 11:00am

Dorset Museum Highlights Tour

Explore 250 million years of Dorset’s history in this volunteer-led highlights tour of Dorset Museum. Discover Roman mosaics, fossils from the Jurassic Coast, Thomas Hardy manuscripts and the sculptures of Elisabeth Frink – and plenty more along the way.

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Family Activity

16 August 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Summer ArtyFacts

Inspired by Dorset Museum’s collection and Special Exhibitions, our volunteer-led craft activities are fun and creative. 

Find out more

Family Activity

18 August 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Summer ArtyFacts

Inspired by Dorset Museum’s collection and Special Exhibitions, our volunteer-led craft activities are fun and creative. 

Find out more

Tours

23 August 2022, 10:00am - 11:00am

Dorset Museum Highlights Tour

Explore 250 million years of Dorset’s history in this volunteer-led highlights tour of Dorset Museum. Discover Roman mosaics, fossils from the Jurassic Coast, Thomas Hardy manuscripts and the sculptures of Elisabeth Frink – and plenty more along the way.

Find out more

Family Activity

23 August 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Summer ArtyFacts

Victorian cameo silhouettes and gilt frames. Create your own Victorian silhouette and Victorian-style frame, inspired by the Thomas Hardy exhibition, the Hardy gallery and portraits in the Dorset Artists gallery.

Find out more

Family Activity

25 August 2022, 10:00am - 12noon

Summer ArtyFacts

Victorian cameo silhouettes with gilt frames. Create your own Victorian silhouette portrait and Victorian style frame inspired by the Thomas Hardy exhibition, the Hardy gallery and portraits in the Dorset Artists gallery.

Find out more