Earlier this month, a new museum opened in our home city of Norwich. It’s called the Bridewell Museum – and it boasts some superb material. Illustrating the city’s industrial and cultural history, there are three floors laden with exhibits including the last surviving loom from the city’s once-enormous textile industry and the world’s first wire weaving machine, which facilitated the export of thousands of miles of netting across the world from 1844 onwards.
For anyone researching the history of Norwich, it’s impossible to get very far without being informed that this city was, in the eighteenth century, larger than Manchester and Birmingham and second only to London as an economic centre for England. The textiles industry was fundamental to the fortunes of the city at that time, along with the manufacture of shoes and boots, and the Bridewell Museum reflects this very well with its artefacts, displaying a variety of tools and machinery, and a large number of shoe designs.
Among the most impressive exhibits, though, is the enormous mosaic of Norwich’s key landmarks, a collation of over nine thousand photographs of the city and its residents over the course of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. From military portraits to artistic installations, the mosaic forms an excellent visual story – with plenty of contemporary familiar faces for locals such as ourselves to identify.
We think the mosaic is a superb idea with a great deal of potential for other museums around the UK – and we’d be interested to know if the concept gets adopted anywhere else.
Here is the BBC News article on the museum’s opening.