The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Museum of British Folklore

We dance the Sword Dances, spin ribbons round Maypoles, hail seasonal kings and queens and run from the 'Obby Oss. The ancient cultural traditions of these islands are esoteric, mysterious, strange mixes of the pagan and Christian, dances of life and death. Alive and well in some parts, in other places forgotten and forlorn, these traditions are still a deeply embedded and familiar part of who we are, and what we use to make ourselves and our mythologies.

Whilst local history museums contain many artefacts of folkloric interest, whilst there are projects such as 'The Other Within' at the Pitt Rivers which emphasize folkloric items, it has for a long time struck me as odd that an institution dedicated to native British traditions appears to be missing. But perhaps this might change soon. Recently, I stumbled upon a website called The Museum of British Folklore, which seeks to drum up support for such a centre. Go to the site, visit, learn, and perhaps support the cause. I for one would love to see such an institution arise. The cultures that I understand as deep parts of myself, parts of me that came from Derbyshire and dressed wells, that Wassailed apple trees and knew the stories of the Green Man, deserve a place to be honored and remembered.

2 comments:

Stephanie said...

Admittedly I come from Southend, place of fried-chicken outlets and lurid seafront arcades, but perhaps that's why I've always hankered after this particular type of British heritage. There are stories which belong to everyone, stories my mother told me, and others which I gleaned from childhood holidays to the West country. Many of our ancient traditions lay forgotten, or are viewed as the sinister remnants of a pre-Christian past. A museum of folklore, like Boscastle's museum of witchcraft, could prove a powerful tool in altering our perceptions of this intriguing part of British culture. Well done for finding this, Jenny! Will follow with interest.

Jenny said...

I shall keep you up to date!!!