Wardown Park Museum

2016-11-29 Posted in Airport Parking, Train Station

Wardown Park Museum

The Wardown Park Museum was formerly known as the Luton Museum and Art Gallery and it is housed in Wardown Park on the edge of the town centre. The museum is housed in a Victorian mansion and there is a wide range of collections to enjoy, giving people an insight into local life over the years. There is a particular focus on the crafts that are readily associated with Luton and Bedfordshire, including hat-making and the production of lace. The museum hosts displays of lace which can be traced back the 17 th century.

As most people are aware, the hat industry was a prominent part of life for people from Luton and the museum has a women’s hat industry collection. There are more than 600 hats in the collection and it is possible to arrange a viewing to see all of the hats, as many of them are held in storage at the museum.

Other collections include fine arts, costumes, room settings from the Victorian era and books from the medieval era.

Lottery Funding has supported Wardown Park Museum

Like many museums in the modern era, there has been support from the Heritage Lottery Fund with the galleries on the first floor have been refurbished and opened in 2003. One of the reasons that Wardown Park museum, and so many other museums like it around the country, receive this funding is to ensure that the story of everyday people from the area, and through the ages, are told. It is vital that modern and future generations do not lose a link to the past and there is a great focus in this museum on the lives of people from the local area over the most recent 150 years. With listening posts offering the chance to listen to people from these eras tell their own story and a number of computer screens allowing people to look deeper into the development of Luton, Wardown Park museum can boast of an interactive offering that is up to date and interesting.

The display on the ground floor focuses on a much earlier time in Luton's history with archaeological finds and the Shillington Roman coin hoard. There is even a mirror from the Iron Age so if you are looking for a collection that draws on a huge sense of history; this museum is an excellent stop. It is the variety of collections that draws so many people to the museum on a regular basis, providing insights into local life and the history of the area.

Temporary exhibitions ensure there is also something to enjoy at the museum

As is the case with many modern museums, Wardown Park museum also hosts a number of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. This helps to showcase a wider range of collections and also provides reasons for local people to come back and visit the museum on a regular basis.

The house that hosts the museum also has a story to tell, dating back to the 1800s. It was previously part of the estate of the How family and the building was initially known as the Bramingham Shott. The property then came into the possession of the Stewart Family who attempted to sell the land and property in 1903 but upon receiving no bids for the property, it was bought in 1904 by two local councillors with the park being donated to the residents of Luton. A number of improvements were carried out after the park was the property of the local community, with a bowling green being added in 1905.

The building was to lie empty for a number of years because the cost of renovating it exceeded the budget of Luton council but over time, work was done to allow the building to be used. It was utilised with important effect in the first World War, as a hospital with space for 65 patients. After WW1, the council took full control of the building, opening a tea room and in 1930, the museum was opened.