Museum Snapshots

Bear Gardens Museum

According to Hudson and Nicholls’ Directory of Museums and Living Displays, the Bear Gardens Museum was in a Georgian warehouse standing on the original site of the Elizabethan bear baiting arena and the Hope Playhouse. Its displays illustrated the history of 16th and 17th-century playhouses, and included scale models.

As Bankside was on the south bank of the Thames and thus outside the jurisdiction of the 17th-century city of London, it was a popular site for all manner of entertainments including bear baiting and theatres. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre famously made its home there in 1599.

An image of the museum in 1976, close to the time of the exhibition poster above,  is available from the City of London Picture Archive:

8 replies on “Bear Gardens Museum”

I wonder who is your wife. From 1978, the Museum was run in association with the ILEA, as the Bear Gardens Museum and Arts Centre. The two people most closely involved with running it were, first, Julie Eaglen, second, Jenny Naish.

I worked on Bear Gardens for Sam Wanamaker. Also on his open air globe which was the original re birth of the globe theatre. Early 1970’s.

Are the contributions given by Diana Devlin and the then Bear Garden Museum realized in the establishment of the New Globe Theatre?

I worked there in the school holidays as work experience in 1975/76 and have just found my Bankside Broadsheets pack that we used to sell in the bookshop.

I performed there in a series of renaissance dramas in 1985 with the Wayward Players set up by Diane West. I remember Sam Wanamaker having an office in the building where plans were made for the Globe project.

I used to help run The Other Side and then Bankside theatre company at the Bear Gardens in the early 1980s. Happy days ☺️

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