Horsham Museum makes its own bit of history

Horsham Museum, The Causeway, Horsham.
Horsham Museum, The Causeway, Horsham.

Horsham Museum and Art Gallery is launching a public celebration after reaching its 125th birthday.

Friends, residents and visitors are being invited to join the celebration from tomorrow until August 15.

An historic view of the museum site in Horsham's Causeway

An historic view of the museum site in Horsham's Causeway

There will be 125 mini cakes on offer at the museum for everyone to enjoy, along with a competition inviting the public to join in the mudeum’s actual birthday on August 15.

Said a spokesman: “Somewhere in the museum will be the numbers 1, 2 and 5 and all you need to do to enter the birthday competition is find the numbers and inform a staff member of their whereabouts.

“All entrants will go into a draw to win a £50 voucher to spend in the museum and visitor information centre gift shop.”

Horsham District Council cabinet member for culture and leisure Jonathan Chowen said: “The museum has most certainly led an eventful life. A life, which thanks to the Friends of Horsham Museum and Art Gallery and Horsham District Council, is not slowing down as it looks forward to the next 125 years.

“Horsham Museum may be a genuine antique but it has a lot of life left in it yet and looks forward to the next 125 years with enthusiasm and vigour.

“I am delighted that as we approach the Horsham District Year of Culture for 2019 celebrations our museum and artgallery is marking such a major birthday.

“Please come along and help us celebrate this unique milestone, help yourselves to one of our 125 birthday cakes and enter our competition.”

Founded by members of the Free Christian Church in 1893, the museum has witnessed its fair share of history over the years. Having seen six monarchs, two world wars, the birth of pensions, the NHS, television, computers, telephones, aeroplanes, the creation of county and district councils and a town growth from 10,000 to over 50,000.

The museum was established by a dynamic church who believed in creating clubs and organisations to improve the town from the first public library, to a gymnasium in Worthing Road.

The museum had humble but ambitious origins. Its aim was to collect things that were interesting, or which may be thrown away and showcase that to the town’s residents and visitors.

However by the 1960s, the Museum Society knew that resources to continue running the museum were low. Therefore they persuaded the town’s council to take it on, with the society lending their collections to the council.

In 1974 Horsham District Council took on the responsibility of running the museum, a position it still holds today.

Over the century, the museum has reflected the current interests and aspirations of the town, from collecting biology and geology in the late Victorian era, empire and archaeology in the 1920s and 30s, farming life in the 60s and local history in the 80s and 90s. All of this has built up a store of objects perfect for creating diverse exhibitions reflecting all aspects of life in Horsham.

In 2016, it decided that it would fund the creation of a watercolour collection. Art has always been popular, but in today’s visual world it has become even more popular. So the Friends, took the dynamic step and have funded the creation of a watercolour collection that is paying rich dividends after only two years in existence.