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The display is designed around the themes of wood, bone, glass and stone with a focus on the aesthetic qualities of the objects and the materials that they are made from. Some objects come with historically significant stories, others are intriguing, unusual or simply beautiful. Each one of them comes to life in new and interesting ways when placed in this innovative context.

We have taken an experimental approach to presenting and interpreting this display to place the greatest importance on the object itself; the exhibition is about looking before reading, and appreciating the intrinsic beauty of the objects. It’s about noticing the surface texture and natural markings, admiring shape, colour and form, and wondering about the objects purpose. Above all, ‘1001 Objects’ is about inspiring curiosity.

We hope that these presentation methods will intrigue, enthuse and offer opportunities to engage with our collections on a new and creative level.

Gallery guides are available to help you to learn more about some of the objects, along with a full list of all of the objects on display. We tried using labels on the wall but thought 1001 of them would be a little overwhelming! We want to know what you think.

Hanson Logboat
The Hanson Logboat is made from a single oak tree trunk. Found at a gravel quarry at Shardlow in 1998, it is one of the oldest boats in the world, made about 3,400 years ago, during the Bronze Age. Its cargo was half-a-tonne of sandstone, which is displayed with the boat.

Splinters of  Wood
Nestled in the centre of the gallery, the charismatic Bronze Age Logboat was the starting point for our exhibition. Its beautiful texture inspired the creative concept for ‘The Visual Poetry of 1001 Objects’ and is the focus of our first material zone: wood.

The wooden objects have been placed to visually spark off one another in a carefully choreographed arrangement. Ordinary objects like the wooden baking spoons seem suddenly intriguing when sitting beside similar but unusual objects like the ornate lime spoons; practical spools wound with thread are clustered together to create an interesting textural plane and the colours of an African ritual mask are mirrored in a simple hat brush.

To reflect the warm and woody qualities of the objects in this area we recycled some discarded wooden drawers and used humble ply board for our fixtures. The brilliant illustrations of tools came from an old tool catalogue squirreled away in a back office and nod towards the hand crafted origins of the objects.

Chippings of Stone
Seeking out objects for the fourth zone in this exhibition was a joy.  Looking closely, we saw traces of prehistoric creatures emerging from textured rocks and found intricate, naturally formed veins within stone cut so thin as to be translucent.

We discovered stone that had been carved, polished, sharpened and smoothed; stone that had been used to decorate, to attack, to crush and to protect.

We have arranged an amazing variety of the artefacts here,  from the beautiful arrowheads with their multi faceted sides forming a fascinating, repetitive pattern to the weighty simplicity of a food crusher from the Cook Islands.

The wall panels have been placed low on the wall to reinforce the impression of weightiness within the material, as if this natural product is slowly sliding back toward the earth that it emerged from.

Shards of Glass

The large, sumptuous glass displays you see here were inspired by a cluster of bottles casually placed on a table in the museum store. They looked beautiful in their dense, unstructured arrangement; gleaming, glinting, glistening and sparkling. Placed alongside the more intimate arrangements in the small cases, these objects work en masse; with shiny, reflective surfaces playing off one another and interesting shadows appearing and disappearing as we move past and change our viewpoint.

‘Shards of Glass’ was designed to look and feel lighter than its wood, bone and stone neighbours. A light, bright, translucent display to accentuate the qualities of the material.

Fragments of Bone and Shell

Whilst hunting for objects made from shell and bone, we discovered a drawer full of mammal skulls in the museum stores; a melancholy assortment of fragile little creatures nesting in faded boxes. This collection of parched bone characters held us captivated and we based the creative concept for this area on our find.

We left the original labels on any existing mounts as these have become a part of the objects’ history. They also hint at the historical methods of classification and display that have inspired us throughout the exhibition. You can see this influence again in the drawer of tiny shells hidden inside the plinth. They are placed to encourage scrutiny, to compare and contrast, and to enjoy.

Derby Exhibition
Samuel Rayner, hand coloured engraving, 1839.

The Mechanics Institute was established in 1825 to pass on knowledge to the people of Derby. The were housed in the building next door to the Museum and Art Gallery. The objects in the picture show a bit of everything, fine art, geological specimens, stuffed animals, ceramics, sculpture and scientific instruments. Something for everyone, a delight for the eyes, a mixture that makes everyone look at things that they might not normally choose to look at. We hope that you can see what inspired us and that you also gain inspiration.




Joseph Wright of Derby defined the 18th Century, the age of enlightenment and the industrial revolution.


A new exhibition space, a place where we hope to delight and inspire you with a range of objects from our collections.


Joseph Pickford the architect built this house in 1769-70 as his family home and workplace.

The Soldiers Story

Dedicated to the history of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers, The Sherwood Foresters and the Derbyshire Yeomanry.


Discover more about The Origins of Derby in our fascinating and unique collection.


Transitional Spaces are the places that we are beginning to use to show our previously stored collections.


Derby Museums have a collection that is wide ranging and varied. We hope that you find something to interest you.


The Mildand Railway Study Centre at the Silk Mill is the UK's largest pre-nationalisation railway archive.