Ryedale Folk Museum Lands Significant Harrison Collection

By Ed Sexton | 19 November 2008
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picture of a wooden comb

C15th boxwood comb love token - made of boxwood, ivory panels with silk underlay. © Ryedale Folk Museum

A small Yorkshire community and museum is working together to provide a home for a major collection of artefacts described as having major 'national significance'.

The Ryedale Folk Museum has just landed the Harrison Collection of more than 10,000 items, which has been valued in excess of £1m.

Brothers Edward and Richard Harrison who grew up near the museum built up the collection and staff are now in talks with major backers to raise more than £2million to house the artefacts.

Museum director Mike Benson said: “The brothers wanted the collection to come here as we are their local museum and it has taken us a couple of years to get to this stage."

“We are having a preview of the pieces from December through to March before we take possession of all 10,000 pieces. Within our funding we will have a curator and a conservator.”

picture of an auctioneers gavel

C18th slave auction gavel - made of brass, whale tooth and whalebone, handle pulls away to reveal a blade. © Ryedale Folk Museum

The museum runs on a tiny staff of just seven full time and four part timers and is supported by a team of 150 volunteers.

Mike said: “The museum is about an Englishness that is disappearing. I was a steel worker before I got involved with museums and I saw my heritage disappearing and no one was doing anything about it."

“The museum covers everything from the Iron Age when the first folk settled in Ryedale right through to the 1950s.”

He added: “The community are really getting behind the project and the art community have already collected 80 pieces that we will be selling at an auction next week."

“We are trying to encourage people to become supporters not just visitors to give the museum a sense of place so people feel like they are not just visiting another open air museum.”

picture of an urn

C16th heart urn, it is a lead pot inscribed; 'Here lith the harte of John Peck A.D. 1562' © Ryedale Folk Museum

The museum is hoping that work will start next September and an agreement has been reached to buy the Barn Hotel which will become a gallery.

The land surrounding it will be used to build a new home for the Harrison collection and a new learning centre.

Mike said: “Although the collection will shift the value of the museum our ethos and values will not change and we will remain a local museum. We put learning at the centre of the museum and the fantastic learning space will get people to engage with the collection and learn more about it.”

An auction of arts and crafts materials will be held on November 27 at Hutton-le-Hole Village Hall from 7pm. To buy tickets for the auction or to donate or volunteer please contact the museum on 01751 417 367.

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