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The Arts Society Wrekin celebrates 50th anniversary

By Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, 28 March 2018, 15:56PM

The Arts Society Wrekin is welcoming Florian Schweizer, Chief Executive of The Arts Society, to the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site on Tuesday, 10 April.

During his visit Florian will be running 10km around The Gorge and past many of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums that have been supported by The Arts Society Heritage Volunteers. The visit marks the 50th anniversary of The Arts Society and coincides with the presentation of a Marsh Trust Award to the Wrekin Society for the committee’s outstanding work in Shropshire.

The Arts Society was set up in 1968, then known as the National Decorative and Fine Arts Society (NADFAS), to allow people to discover more about and support the arts, whether it be from yesterday, today or tomorrow through lectures, visits and volunteering opportunities. Over the last five years The Arts Society Wrekin, in partnership with the Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton Societies, has given a huge amount of volunteer support to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, the charity that operates the 10 museums in the World Heritage Site.

The project started in 2013 when volunteers from all three groups helped to catalogue the internationally important John Scott collection of 1,700 tiles and tile panels. Thanks to the hard work of the volunteers and curators, detailed records and images of each tile are now in the Museum’s collections management system and the tiles are on display in the John Scott Gallery at the Jackfield Tile Museum.

In 2015 Wrekin and Shrewsbury volunteers gave 1,200 volunteer hours helping the curators catalogue aspects of the Sir Arthur Elton Collection, including 4,000 books on early railways, transport and the Industrial Revolution. Following the success of these projects, in 2016 and 2017 The Arts Societies of Wrekin and Shrewsbury set to work on a collection of printing blocks that were used to print the Coalbrookdale Company Catalogues from the late 19th century. Since November 2017 similar tasks have been carried out on a large quantity of Craven Dunnill tile moulds discarded in the 19th century and un-covered during building works at Jackfield Tile Museum.

Rob Hubbleday, Chairman of The Arts Society Wrekin commented: “To mark the 50th anniversary of The Arts Society, Florian is committed to running 10km in 50 different locations around the country. We felt that this was a great opportunity to invite him to run through the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site and hear about how we have helped the museums. In the afternoon he will be able to relax as he listens to a fascinating lecture by David de Haan on the Great Exhibition of 1851 attended by 70 members and guests. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of The Arts Society and that The Arts Society Wrekin has been honoured with a Marsh Trust Award recognising the hard work of the committee.”

Gillian Crumpton Director of Collections and Learning at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust commented “It has been wonderful to work with different Arts Society groups, as it has greatly increased our capacity to create and review the records of our different collections. We hope that we will be able to continue to work with The Arts Society over the coming years.”

To find out more about The Arts Society Wrekin please visit www.theartssocietywrekin.org.uk and for the Ironbridge Gorge Museums www.ironbridge.org.uk.