News

Lord Fellowes joins Dorset Museum & Art Gallery as new nominated President of the Society

June 14, 2024

Dorset Museum & Art Gallery is excited to announce that Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, D.L., the multi-award-winning screenwriter, actor, novelist and director, will be presenting himself for election as President of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society (DNHAS) this autumn.

Lord Fellows of West Stafford - Copyright Alison Rosa Cohen
Lord Fellowes of West Stafford – Copyright Alison Rosa Cohen

The DHNAS is immensely grateful to Lady Susan Bradbury who is standing down after ten years, having overseen a programme of critically acclaimed exhibitions and the re-opening of the newly transformed museum in 2021.

Bringing decades of experience from the forefront of the British and International art scene, Lord Fellowes (b.1949) is a longtime resident of Dorset and has been a supporter of and generous donor to the Museum & Art Gallery for many years.

Lord Fellowes will be President of an organisation with over 1000 members whose core purpose is to collect, preserve, research and exhibit objects relating to the culture of Dorset.
The position of President was once held by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). The society has existed since 1928, with the merging of two separate support groups, the Field Club and the Museum. The running of the Museum & Art Gallery in this organisational way has been in place as far back as 1875.

The Society’s role is to make sure the public benefit from the incredible archaeology, natural science and history, literature, music, fine arts and antiquities that the museum has to offer. The organisation achieves this through acquisitions, conservation work, and exhibitions that continue to cover 250 million years of history, making the County of Dorset one of the must-visit places for art and history lovers.

Lord Fellowes is the creator of the worldwide phenomenon Downton Abbey and the current hit series The Gilded Age. He won an Academy Award for his Gosford Park screenplay and has also adapted books such as The Wind in the Willows and Vanity Fair for stage and screen. A noted supporter of regional and national healthcare charities, Lord Fellowes has also striven to protect the culture of Dorset and the UK. This includes helping lead a six-year campaign to protect the cottage where former Society President Thomas Hardy wrote Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) from property developers.

In the coming years, Dorset Museum & Art Gallery will be continuing the exciting exhibition programme including an exhibition on Gladiators in Britain in partnership with The British Museum in 2025.

Speaking ahead of his appointment, Lord Fellowes said: “I am both delighted and extremely honoured to be put forward for this role. The Museum has grown and developed during my time here, so I have been able to witness its transformation into the marvellous place it is today. In fact, I have lived in the county for long enough to know that the combination of its natural evolution from its Jurassic beginnings combined with its role in the history of our country makes it unique. The thought of being a custodian for its past, its present and its future, fills me with joy.”

Executive Director Claire Dixon said: “Dorset Museum & Art Gallery has hugely appreciated the support of Lord Fellowes for many years. His commitment to Dorset and in particular, his clear interest and passion for the culture and heritage within our County, means he is well placed to serve as our President and we are excited about his decision to stand.”

The role of President is recommended by the Board of Trustees and elected by the Society’s members.

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