Museum Snapshots

Dufftown Whisky Museum


The Whisky Museum is in Dufftown, Speyside, which claims to be “Malt Whisky Capital of the World”. Sited on the banks of the river Fiddich, Dufftown was at one time home to nine whisky distilleries with six currently active, including the well known Glenfiddich.

The museum was opened in 2002 by Charles MacLean, a prolific writer on whisky. Its exhibits include illicit stills and other tools and equipment used for whisky manufacture. The museum was forced to vacate its first site in 2009 and has plans to expand its current small premises.

Image from Dufftown Whisky Museum.

Museum Snapshots

The Ark Museum

The Ark is the oldest building in active use in Tadcaster, Yorkshire. Built in the late 15th Century, it is reputed to have been used by the Pilgrim Fathers to meet when planning their voyage to America. As well as a meeting place, at different times the Ark has been used as a post office, an inn, a butchers, a private house and a museum. Its name derives from two carved corbel figures on the exterior which are said to be Noah and his wife.

It housed a museum of local and brewing history, owned by John Smith’s brewery, but the museum closed in 1989. The collections were dispersed to a variety of places including Doncaster Museum, the Castle Museum in York, and private collections. Today the building is in use as council offices.

More information at Visit Tadcaster.

Museum Snapshots

Museum of British Transport

The Museum of British Transport opened in an old bus garage in Clapham, south London, in the 1960s. Standing in the forecourt was a replica of Rocket, the pioneering locomotive designed by Robert Stephenson. The museum housed objects and vehicles relating to London’s roads, railways and the Tube. The collection had been started in the 1920s by the London General Omnibus Company, which decided to preserve two Victorian horse buses and an early motorbus.

In 1969 the museum was losing £30,000 a year and threatened with closure. It moved to Syon Park in 1973 as the London Transport Collection. The collection was eventually divided between the National Railway Museum in York and London’s Transport Museum, which opened in 1980 in a Victorian flower market building in Covent Garden.

Image taken in 1966 and © National Railway Museum and SSPL, from National Railway Museum. There are more photos of the museum in 1965 on Flickr.

Museum Snapshots

House of Wax


The Louis Tussauds House of Wax in Great Yarmouth was run by Peter and Jane Hays for 58 years. Opened in 1954 and named after Madame Tussaud’s great grandson, it featured models of celebrities and historical figures. But faced with rising costs, declining income, and the loss of the wax modeller they had used, the Hays closed the museum in 2012. When the closure was announced they were praised for their contribution to local tourism. The exhibits were sold to a Czech collector in 2014.

Image via Eastern Daily Press.

Museum Snapshots

Adamston Agricultural Museum


The Adamston Agricultural Museum was opened in 1972 by Hew McCall-Smith. His collection comprised more than 500 items related to farming and domestic life in the North East of Scotland. This included ploughs, horse harness, and dairy equipment. McCall-Smith also organised events, including exhibits of threshing, ploughing, and cheese-making.

The museum remained open until the early 1980s, when the collection was purchased by Moray District Council and incorporated into Aden, the North East of Scotland Agricultural Centre (now known as the Aberdeenshire Farming Museum).

More information about these museums can be found in An Introduction to Scottish Ethnology by Alexander Fenton.

Image via Deeside Books.

Museum Snapshots

Birmingham Nature Centre


This building has had various lives, with at least four different institutions occupying the site. It was once the Cannon Hill Museum and devoted to the history of Birmingham. Around 1953, changes at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery led to the natural history department establishing a museum on the site. It subsequently became the Birmingham Nature Centre and is now the entrance to Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park.

It is situated on the edge of Cannon Hill Park, which opened in 1873. The park was designed by T. J. Gibson, who had previously designed London’s Battersea Park.

(Image via Birmingham Images)

Some information about the history of the museum is from: Wingfield, Christopher. “(Before and) after Gallery 33: Fifteen years on at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery” Journal of Museum Ethnography 18 (2006): 49-62, p.57. (read online at

Museum Snapshots

The Button Museum? It’s fastenating.

During the spring of 2009 a running joke appeared in the letters page of The Guardian newspaper. Prompted by a double-spread photograph showing rows of antiquated toasters on display at the Toaster Museum in Kettwig, Germany, one reader wrote proposing that a visit to the Toaster Museum might be followed by a trip to the Bread Museum in Ulm or the nearby Cutlery and Salt museums. More suggestions followed as correspondents recommended the Egg Museum in Soyans, the Chamberpot Museum in Munich, Szentendre’s Marzipan Museum (with its life-size marzipan sculpture of Michael Jackson), Condom’s Condom Museum, the Mousetrap Museum in Eifel, and a penis museum in Husavik, Iceland.

Numerous other curious collections were mentioned until, after some two or three weeks, the letters began to take on an overtly playful tone. While purporting to recommend museums, these missives were actually an exercise in making puns. Allan Blunden started the trend by commenting that ‘those not too set in their ways’ might enjoy a trip to the German Cement Museum, Josie Greenwood followed suit noting that the ‘Button Museum in Ross-on-Wye is fastenating’, and Malcolm Jones thought the Spam Museum in Austin Minnesota ‘a good place to fritter away a few hours’. Other Guardian readers found the Dickens House bleak, The Fan Museum cool, judged Limerick Museum pure poetry, and Dartmoor Prison Museum quite captivating. The recommendations even began to began to reference other running jokes on the letters page including one, which would be impossible today, about uses for empty 35mm film canisters.

At the time the correspondence appeared, I was just beginning to think about writing a book devoted to small museums that concentrated on particular types of objects or single themes, and particularly the domestic, culturally marginal, or ostensibly insignificant. Almost all of The Guardian readers focused on museums that fitted this category and thinking that they may be useful at some point in the future, I copied the letters down. Here are the first half now, the second set is to follow:

Having showcased the Toaster Museum in Kettwig it might be appropriate to follow with the Bread Museum in Ulm. It is forever engraved on the memory of several nephews and nieces, as was the Cutlery Museum (next to the Wallpaper Museum) in Kassel. Though my sister and I found them strangely entertaining! The Salt Museum was more hands-on. Some holidays just happen that way – sorry kids!

Gaynor Lewis, Smallburgh, Norfolk 4/04/09


Gaynor Lewis could link her visits to the Bread and Salt Museums with one to the Egg Museum in Soyans, in the Drome valley, France.

Robert Davis, London, 07/04/09


Readers hastening to Germany for the delights of Kettwig’s Toaster Museum, Ulm’s Bread Museum and the Wallpaper and Cutlery Museums should continue southwards for the Chamberpot Museum in Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich. Unmissable.

Kirsten Cubitt, Sheffield 10/04/09


No trip to Hungary is complete without a visit to Szentendre’s Marzipan Museum with its life-size model of Michael Jackson carved in marzipan.

Ian Clark, Chartham, Kent 11/04/09


Germany does not have a monopoly on unmissable museums. While on honeymoon in 2001, we went to the Musée du Cartonnage in Valreas, Provence. Cardboard has not been the same for us since.

Nina Young, Nottinghamshire 13/04/09


Then on to the Condom Museum in Condom

Jane O’Mahoney, Launceston, Cornwall 13/04/09


Don’t miss Neroth, in the Eifel region of Germany, where the Mousetrap Museum traces the development of a local cottage industry – making mousetraps from bent wire, sold by travelling salesman throughout Europe.

Anthony King, Bristol 16/04/09


Visitors to Koblenz it he 1960s will have unforgettable memories of visiting the ‘Binns’ Museum in the Ehrenbreitstein fortress, devoted to the processing of pumice and the manufacturing of breezeblock.

Jane Caplan, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford 17/04/09


The Whip Museum in Killer, Germany, takes some beating.

David Hemsworth, Haywards Heath, West Sussex 18/04//09


Once you’ve visited le Musée du Pruneau in Agen you’ll want to go regularly.

Don Jackson, York 18/04//09


Husavik in Iceland boasts a phallological museum exhibiting the penises of most of the islands mammals. It doesn’t yet have a human penis, although a local farmer is reported to have donated his – upon his death.

John Land, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk 20/04/09


For those not too set in their ways I recommend a visit to the German Cement Museum. It’s situated on the windswept outskirts of Henmoor on the road to Cuxhaven.

Dr. Allan Blunden, Liskeard, Cornwall 21/04//09


Visitors to the south-east of France should take their hats off to Le Musée du Beret in Nouy, between Lourdes and Paris.

Tim Nokes, Kendal, Cumbria 21/04//09


Why go abroad for unusual historical collections when you can visit the Prickwillow Drainage Engine Museum in fenland Cambridgeshire.

John Loader, West Wilton, North Yorkshire 22/04/09


I am quite a fan of The Fan Museum in Greenwich. It is so cool

Tom Frost, London 22/04/09


The Button Museum in Ross-on-Wye is fastenating

Josie Greenwood, Worksop, Nottinghamshire 23/04/09


Have the courage to visit the Bottle Museum – run by the wonderfully named Codswallop Trust – at the Elescar Heritage Centre near Barnsbury.

Stuart Currie, Barnsley, South Yorkshire 24/04/09


Does the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence in Port Talbot set the pulses racing?

Alan Paterson, Cambridge 24/04/09


None of them are a patch on the Quilt Museum and Gallery in York

Steve Bradley, York 24/04/09


Surely after the Bottle Museum the next step would be to see the Flessenscheepjes (ships-in-bottles) Museum in Enkhuizen, Holland. And while you’re there, you might as well look in the Sigarbandjes (cigar band) Museum in Volendam

Willem Mejs, Birmingham 27/04/09


The Sewing Machine Museum in South London left me in stitches

Tom Bolger, Woodbridge, Suffolk 27/04/09


Since this series is going to run and run, I suggest you find time for the clock museum at Upton Hall near Newark.

Rev. Tony Bell, Chesterfield, Derbyshire 28/ 04/09


I went to the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot Idaho. Who could resist the strapline ‘Free baked taters to Out-of-Staters’. They had the original Dan Quayle ‘potatoe’ and some potato ice-cream that I would not recommend.

Neil Skilling, Loanhead, Midlothian 28/04/09


Anyone visiting Dumfriesshire might find interest in the Savings Bank Museum at Ruthwell

Neil Forrest 29/04/09


The Dickens House is bleak

Jan Pitt, London 29/04/09


Why not whip along to the leather museum at Walsall?

Ian Joyce, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire 30/04/09


I’m sorry Jan Pitt found the Dickens House Museum so bleak. She shouldn’t have gone with such great expectations.

Phillip Stephenson, Cambridge 30/04/09


I’ve heard that the Museum of Country Life near East Kilbride is the best in its field

Colin Montgomery, Edinburgh 01/05/09


The Lawrence Sterne Museum in Coxwold is xxxx xxxxx x xxxx

Patrick Wildgust

Shandy Hall, Coxwold, N. Yorkshire 01/05/09


To say nothing of Waregub’s “Museum which ought to be in a Museum”

Geoffrey Pogson, Gillingham, Dorset 01/05/09


Always a popular starter – Arnay-le-Duc’s Soup Museum

Bob Johnson, Durham 02/05/09


The Colour Museum in Bradford should be on any list of buildings to see before you die.

Cliff Challenger, Bradford 02/05/09


None of the museums can cut it like the Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, USA

Dave and Moira Emmett, Leeds 04/05/09


The Museum of London is just capital

David Joss Buckley, London 04/05/09


Only a blip on the map, but the Radar Museum, Neatishead, Norfolk is well worth a visit.

Don Baines, Malden, Essex 05/05/09


The British Lawnmower Museum of Southport is a cut above the Mustard Museum of Wisconsin.

Bob Mays, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire 05/05/09



Tar for mentioning the Asphalt museum, Sacramento, California

Louisa Burville-Riley, Seveoaks, Kent


Limerick Museum, pure poetry.

Brian Hodkinson, Assistant curator, Limerick Museum, 05/05/09


Dartmoor Prison Museum – quite captivating

Johnny Ray, Dorchester, Dorset 07/05/09


Steve adores the Museum in Docklands

Moira Duhig, London 08/05/09


The Keswick Mining Museum in Cumbria is quite oresome

Chris Drinkwater, London 09/05/09


Wigan Museum has no peer

Eric Stanier, Macclesfield, Cheshire 09/05/09


The Discovery Museum in Newcastle is a great find.

Robin Campbell, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear 11/05/09


Missed the Oyster Museum while visiting Whitstable. Oh shuck.

Paula Evans,

Whitstable, Kent 11/05/09


Pull out all the stops and visit the St. Albans Organ Museum

John Bailey, St. Albans, Hertfordshire 12/05/09


It’s funny that no one’s mentioned the Museum of Humour and Satire in Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

Mike Whittaker, Rugby, Warwickshire 12/05/09


The sad news that all the Victorian exhibits are having to be sold off would suggest that the Shambles Museum in Newent is in a bit of a mess.

Max Perkins, Frome, Somerset 12/05/09


Maybe your readers would like to ‘get on up’ to the Sex Machines Museum in Prague.

Dan Adler, Farnham, Surrey 13/05/09


The Manx Kipper Factory and Museum. Smokin’

Steve Pinder, London 14/05/09


I’m rooting for le Musée de la Truffle, Périgord

Colin Virden, Mattlock, Derbyshire 14/05/09


Amsterdam has its Sheepvaart Museum but I wasn’t brave enough to go in.

Fergus Lang, Irby, Wirral 15/05/09


The River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames is more than just a load of old rowlocks.

Chris Whitehead, Hambledon, Oxfordshire 15/05/09


There used to be a Museum of Atheism in Shkoder, northern Albania, but I don’t believe that it exists anymore

Brian Ferris, Tunbridge Wells, Kent 16/05/09


You should try to squeeze in a Visit to the Concertina Museum in Derbyshire

Robert Bigio, London 16/05/09


The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare must be an uplifting experience

Julian Dunn, Great Haseley, Oxfordshire 18/05/09


Have a look through Sunderland’s glass museum

Chris Williams, Rufford, Lancashire 19/05/09


There is a Hat Museum in Stockport that has a rival in Narbonne in France. There is a lot of titfer tat between them.

John Banbury, Marple, Stockport 19/05/09


Kidderminster’s new carpet museum will take some beating

Clliff Wilmott, Bewdley Worcestershire 21/05/09


Hurry to the submarine museum in Gosport – there are fears it’s going under.

Clare Ash, Southsea, Hampshire 21/05/09


It’s good that the Hancock Museum is reopening after a £26million redesign and rebuild. Ought to be worth half an hour of anyone’s time.

Anthony Bramley-Harker, Watford 22/05/09


I found a visit to the Museum of Lifts in Brussels and elevating experience.

Pat Nicholls

St. Neots, Cambridgeshire 22/05/09


A visit to the Tinplate Museum in La Tour Blanche, Dordogne gave me unalloyed pleasure

Ian Churchill, Leeds 23/05/09


The Gustav Holst Museum in Cheltenham is on another planet.

Susan Davis, Cheltenham 25/05/09


© Fiona Candlin August 2017

Museum Snapshots

Plummer Tower Museum

Plummer Tower was part of the old walls of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which were built from the mid-13th century to the middle or late 14th century. It was converted into a meeting house in the latter part of the 17th century by the Company of Cutlers, and a facade was added by the Company of Masons in the mid-18th century. The older parts of the building are Grade I Listed.

In 1948 the Tower was restored and used as a dwelling, and in 1957 it was acquired by the Corporation of Newcastle. After further restoration the Tower was used as a branch museum of the Laing Art Gallery. The upper floor was furnished as an eighteenth century room, while the ground floor housed temporary exhibits based on the city’s archives.

The 1964 photo above shows the tower in use as a museum, while a more recent image shows the museum sign was removed. The museum seems to have been open until at least 1985, when Kenneth Hudson and Ann Nichols’ Directory of Museums & Living Displays listed it as displaying 18th-century period rooms.

A leaflet kindly supplied by a reader of this blog provided more information about the Tower’s history and its use as a museum.

Cover of leaflet for Plummer Tower Museum, a branch of the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.

Interior view of the 18th century room inside Plummer Tower, Newcastle
The 18th century room inside Plummer Tower Museum, Newcastle

Interior view of the 18th century room inside Plummer Tower, Newcastle

Plummer Tower, 2007
Plummer Tower, 2007

Black and white image via Co-Curate, colour image via Wikipedia. Leaflet provided by Angela Essenhigh. More information from See Newcastle. This post was updated in August 2020.

Museum Snapshots

Fraserburgh Heritage Centre

Over the course of their research, the Mapping Museums team have been collecting photos of museums, which will be featured in a series of posts on the site and in the Photo Gallery.

The Fraserburgh Heritage Centre opened in 1998 and describes the history of Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The centre building was originally a herring barrel store.