The Lower Folk Gallery at the Manx Museum – FAQs

– Posted on Tuesday 1st October 2019

Manx National Heritage maintains and conserves its heritage assets such as buildings and collections for future generations.  The museums and galleries are places where we interpret and tell stories to contemporary audiences using techniques familiar to them. This allows us to take into account contemporary education, values and understanding. We also make information available digitally – using techniques and technology which would have been science fiction during most of the life of the Lower Folk Gallery. The Lower Folk Gallery at the Manx Museum was created in the late 1930’s and modified in the 1950’s. It is no longer fit for purpose. Many of the stories it told then are now told elsewhere on the island – most notably at Cregneash (where most of the buildings in the museum have been acquired since the Gallery was built).

  1. On what basis was the decision made to remove the current display in the Basement Gallery known as the Lower Folk Gallery
  • The decision is part of a long term programme of investment in public facilities across sites managed by Manx National Heritage and which has so far delivered significant improvements at The Nautical Museum, The House of Manannan, The Manx Museum and Castle Rushen.
  • The infrastructure of the space is weak – with damp penetration, challenging floor levels, poor lighting, poor fire protection and access.
  • A significant number of current visitors do not access the gallery and those that do spend little time there.
  • It has been our desire to upgrade this area for a while but other areas of the building have taken priority until now.
  • The current displays do not meet modern standards of display and interpretation.
  • It is not possible to give physical access to the interior of the Farmhouse as intended during the 1930’s due to risks to the security of the collections.
  • The story of the crofting lifestyle is told at Cregneash and there are displays on the ground floor of the museum also referring to folklore and crofting.
  1. Why does Manx National Heritage believe that a TT Gallery is needed in the Manx Museum?
  • The TT story, its heritage, and its impact on the Island is now a fundamental part of the culture of the Isle of Man
  • The TT story is not adequately told or celebrated in the Island’s National Museum
  • The Isle of Man is recognised the world over for its TT heritage, it is probably the only single piece of the Island’s culture that is so well known on an international level. It is therefore part of MNH’s duty as the Islands national heritage agency to celebrate and showcase the heritage of the Isle of Man in all its forms.
  • The planned TT Gallery will be as much about the social and cultural impacts of the TT and the people who race it, watch it, marshal it and support it.  It will be about people – NOT just the machines.
  • MNH has been actively collecting a range of TT and motorsport material for at least 20 years. These collections range from oral history interviews with fans to armbands worn by volunteer marshals. The new gallery will weave personal stories using the collections against a backdrop of film and sound.
  1. What is Manx National Heritage doing to ensure that the stories currently told in the Lower Folk Gallery are not lost?
  • MNH has had the Lower Folk Gallery 3D Scanned to capture the Gallery in its current format and enable it to be made available digitally
  • MNH are looking at options to redisplay some of the current elements of the Lower Folk Gallery at the House of Manannan
  • Cregneash village offers the real thing, the Lower Folk Gallery displays are “stage sets”. The interiors buildings are accessible 7 months of the year and the village throughout the year.
  • MNH use different media to portray stories including publications and provide access to a range of collections through iMuseum, the Library & Archives facility as well as through our special exhibitions programme located in galleries at The House of Manannan and The Manx Museum.
  • The Manx Museum has been continually evolving and in recent decades has seen major new galleries including Viking, Natural History, Cabinet of Curiosities and Man at War
  • There are galleries in the Manx Museum duplicating some of the stories represented in the Folk Gallery.
  • The items on display in the Lower Folk Gallery are all part of the national museum collection and will be carefully documented and transported to a secure collection facility; we plan to offer behind-the-scenes tours in the same way that tours are offered at our Large Objects Collections Facility at Balthane.
  1. When will the project start?
  • Some work has already started to prepare for the new gallery, including securing a storage building to house the collections as they are removed from the Lower Folk Gallery and to house the TT Gallery collections whilst the construction work is completed.  The Gallery in its present format is currently expected to close to the public in January 2020.
  • The plan is for the new gallery to be open in time for the summer of 2022.
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