Press Release: Bring our galleries to life with moving heritage objects says West Dean College clocks conservation tutor

The Clocks Conservation programme leader at West Dean College, Matthew Read, will be addressing visitors at the prestigious Museums + Heritage Show at Olympia in April (29 - 30). Read will challenge the more conventional conservation view by looking at the benefits and risks of conserving and displaying moving objects to engage and excite museum visitors, rather than relying on hi-tech interpretation to provide a satisfying museum experience. Last year students at West Dean worked on the conservation of an 18th century Organ Clock by Royal Clockmaker, George Pyke, a project led by Read on behalf of the Tudor-Jacobean Temple Newsam at Leeds.

The clock sat silent for many years on the busy public route in one of the country's most important heritage houses. Conservation treatment of the rare and culturally important eighteenth century organ clock included the automaton and music barrel pinned by student of Haydn, Jos Gurk, signed and dated 1815.

"Bringing the clock to life will deepen not only the understanding of the specific object, but add dimension to the visitor experience as early nineteenth century music spills into the house," says Read. "Live conservation projects are essential to the delivery of programmes at West Dean College and this project marked new territory crossing boundaries between professional conservation practice, education and interdisciplinary activity. Importantly it formed a bridge not only between a college and an historic house collection, but between a formalised learning environment and vocation."

West Dean College is internationally renowned for its teaching in the School of Conservation with specialisms in Books, Ceramics, Clocks, Furniture and Metalwork. Students work on live heritage projects as part of their professional training. Graduates have gone on to work at major organisations including Victoria & Albert Museum, National Maritime Museum and the British Museum. Bursaries and scholarships are available to the talented students from all walks of life and the deadline for funding applications for 2015/16 is 30 March 2015 at 5pm.

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Notes to editors

  • West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation, an educational charitable trust established in 1964, also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.
  • Any journalist interested in attending a short course or event for news or review purposes, high res images or information on filming should contact the Media Relations Team.
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London.

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For media accreditation or high-resolution digital images, please contact:

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Relations Officer +44 (0)1243 818301


West Dean College and Gardens, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ

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