It’s been an exceptional year for Derby Museums! We have just released our Annual Review which you can see here: Annual Review 2018-19. Please read on for an end-of-year message from Tony Butler, Executive Director at Derby Museums.

Dear supporter,

This year has been an exceptional one for Derby Museums. Despite the continued fall in local and central government funding, our museums remained resilient and relevant to our visitors. We’ve had our best visitor numbers since the Trust was set up in 2012.

The first half of the year witnessed our most popular exhibition in over ten years. Leonardo: A Life in Drawing brought 14 of the genius’ works from the Royal Collection Trust to the city as part of a major touring exhibition. Over 50,000 people saw the show and the visitor experience was enhanced by a legion of brilliant and articulate volunteers. Following this, the LEGO® Brick History exhibition brought families from across the city to the museum – once more this was our best summer exhibition for many years. To round off the year Japanese Ghosts and Demons helped us celebrate the Japan UK year of culture and we were graced by a visit from the Japanese Ambassador.

Image: Local school children getting up close to Leonardo

We’ve continued to give young people across our city great experiences of art, making, science and history. Our mobile museum, The Makory, has gone out on over 30 visits to places where people meet; parks, festivals and shopping centres. It has also been used by schools in parts of the city where we know there is low participation in cultural activities. This is vital work as it gives children an important chance to extend their life skills and general knowledge beyond the classroom.

Image: Having a great time during the Lego: Brick History exhibition

More people are visiting Pickford’s House. This year’s show of beautiful dresses owned by Marchioness Grace Curzon builds on previous years’ exhibitions of Agatha Christie memorabilia and Vivienne Westwood shoes. Pickford’s provides a fitting, graceful venue for a more intimate study of home life. Next year’s season will be an exploration of Florence Nightingale’s theories of Health in the Home.

Image: Pupils from a local school on board The Makory

The year 2020 will be a watershed for Derby Museums as the new Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill finally opens to the public in September. Inspired by 300 years of creativity and manufacturing in Derby and Derbyshire, the museum has been uniquely co-produced; made by the makers of today and empowering the makers of tomorrow. This year the new Civic Hall has been built, as has a new mezzanine and viewing platform on the fourth floor, providing never before seen panoramic views of Derby Cathedral and the River Derwent.

Image: Volunteers from a Red Saunders shoot

Above all I’d like to thank all our supporters and volunteers. Our phalanx of volunteers have been involved in so many aspects of museum life, from the recant and decant of collections at the Museum of Making, to being Leonardo or LEGO® ambassadors in our galleries, to assisting with events and working behind the scenes in admin or collections. Whether you have given time or money, Derby Museums would be far poorer (in many ways!) without you.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Tony Butler