Skip to main content
Leicester Special Collections

Leicester Museums

Education is a key aim of the museum. Promoted in the Introduction to the Museum booklet, it talks about how education has gone ‘beyond the schoolroom’ and should be ‘pleasurable’. Yet in Trevor Thomas’ 1944 Bulletin article ‘visual education’ is low down on the list of priorities that Leicester museums had then. It is interesting to see education and exhibition, something that was promoted in the founding documents of the museum, is suddenly in the background of what Leicester museums were doing. Today, Philip French argues that education and exhibition (or entertainment) are the most important role for Leicester Museums to take. Despite fads and some changes, the core purpose of a museum, the two E’s as he calls it, has remained the same. 

Philip French Oral History Interview - Museum Purpose, 2017

The idea of preservation and research is mentioned within the Leicester documents. The Introduction to the Museum booklet talks of how ‘Three things occupy a Curator’s time: collection, preservation, publication’. Additionally, Trevor Thomas, in the Leicester Bulletin 1944, has listed that first and foremost conservation of material is an important priority of a museum. Secondly, research into the collections helps researchers and scholars who write our history and is another priority task for museums.

Thomas’ article talks about what Leicester museum was but also what it could be. He talks of wanting to make the museum ‘the heart of the community’. This idea of being at the heart of the community is something modern museums prioritise strongly. You could say it is rather surprising seeing this sentiment in an article from 1944. This is mentioned in Philip French’s oral history recording above where he talks about a museum needing to be relevant and also their involvement in helping the community through dementia awareness and memory trails.