Royal Engineers Museum prepares to open up its mysterious Eighth Corridor

By Richard Moss | 08 April 2013

Exhibition preview: The Eighth Corridor, Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham, April 23 – September 30 2013

photo of an axe with islamic decoration
An Islamic decorated axe© Royal Engineers Museum
There’s an enduring perception that most museums are rather like icebergs, revealing just a small percentage of massive collections which lay largely submerged within ocean-like vaults and store rooms.

This is certainly so of the Royal Engineers Museum, in Chatham, whose Designated Collection is usually 80% hidden within what it mysteriously terms the Eighth Corridor.

Inside this shadowy enclave lies the majority of a holding that ranges from old cannon and ancient weaponry to a human jaw bone, uncovered by two museum volunteers just last week

Now these treasures are about to be revealed in a new exhibition exploring the museum’s whole collection, which is currently undergoing an audit.  

Giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a museum, many of the objects in the exhibition have spent decades locked away inside the corridor which, in the words of curator James Scott, contains a “strange mix of things from different periods and cultures”.

Favourite objects (chosen by curators and volunteers), will be displayed together with objects that the museum needs the help of visitors to identify. There will also be objects that visitors have chosen to be displayed via a Facebook campaign and a selection of the art, some of which was created by Royal Engineers sappers.

In addition, visitors will be able to see the audit process being carried out live by a dedicated team.

“The Eighth Corridor is a chance for people to see what happens behind the scenes of the museum and to see some of the strange and beautiful things that are not usually displayed," adds Scott.

  • Open 9am-5pm (11.30am-5pm Saturday and Sunday, Bank Holidays. Closed Monday.) Admission £8/£5.50 (free for under-5s).

a photograph of two men with a jaw bone
Two museum volunteers with a human jaw bone.© Royal Engineers Museum
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