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Leicester Special Collections

Other Reasons

The Welsh Folk Museum and its Development, 1951

St. Fagan's National Museum of History, Cardiff

The birth of The National Folk Museum (now St. Fragan’s National Museum of History) seems to have developed slowly through the growth of a collection and important individuals. The collection was started by enthusiasts within the museum, and the development of the folk museum itself is, in the words of Dr. Sheila Watson, serendipitous. [1]  Nevertheless, the aim of collecting and exhibiting a Welsh way of life (both tangible and intangible) is reminiscent of the more traditional ideas as to why museums are established. After such a devastating event such as the Second World War, the creation of this museum was seen as ‘one of the chief needs of post-war reconstruction’. The museum was intended to be something to not only boost morale, but to show off and be proud of Welsh heritage and traditions- a nationalistic statement.[2]

Beyond Our First Decade, 1982

The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

The National Motor Museum was born from Lord Montagu’s collection, love for British motoring and in memory of his father. With an ever growing collection, the museum soon expanded to include a library/archive of motoring material. On the one hand, Beaulieu promotes a nationalist image of Britain, encouraging pride in our motoring ingenuity and past, therefore supporting the traditional school of thought as to why museums were set up. [4] Yet, Beaulieu also shows the new school of thought which promotes the importance of private collectors. [5] The National Motor Museum also has an interesting function of being a memorial too. Beaulieu demonstrates that the birth of a museum can be a combination of many different factors and that elements of both new and old schools of thought are still relevant and should be considered.

[1] Sheila Watson, History of Museums Lecture, The University of Leicester, (October 2016).

[2] Influenced by Watson, History of Museums, (2016). 

[3] Historic England, The English Public Library 1850 – 1939, <> [accessed 14/8/2017] p. 2. 

[4] Sheila Watson, History of Museums Lecture, The University of Leicester, (October 2016).

[5] Ibid.