Come into the garden
The Chalfont St Giles based house – where John Milton wrote his epic masterpiece Paradise Lost – reopens to the public tomorrow (Friday 25) for the season.
Kelly O’Reilly joins the museum after eight years as co-director of Sing London, the public arts organisation that brought pianos, ping pong and Talking Statues to the streets of London.
Ms O’Reilly said: ‘I am thankful to the trustees for this opportunity to lead the museum into the next chapter of its history.
“Milton’s Cottage is a must-see destination for literature lovers everywhere - a chance to see where one of the world’s greatest epic poems was composed.
“I hope to provide a wider range of literary, cultural and educational events than ever before to help keep Milton’s legacy alive.’
Simon Avery, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “Kelly’s compelling vision, energy and residency at Milton’s Cottage is breathing new life into our unique museum.
“It now has even greater attraction for visitors, whether they already know the cottage and its beautiful registered garden, or are yet to discover the importance and continuing relevance of John Milton.
“His poetic genius and his views on freedom of the press, divorce, education, religion and parliamentary democracy still resonate today.”
Highlights of the spring programme include Beyond Words, the first contemporary art exhibition in the museum’s 129 year history, as part of National Museums Week.
It features six artists who have created new work in response to the Milton’s Cottage collection, the world’s most extensive public display of first editions of John Milton’s work, both poetry and prose.
Milton’s Cottage will also be marking the nationwide Museums at Night celebrations with an afterdark magic lantern event that responds to the museum’s newest acquisition – an early 20th century magic lantern slide of Milton’s Cottage, donated by a family in Canada.
Families are invited to explore the museum’s beautiful garden – the only Grade II registered garden in the Chilterns – with an Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday.
There will also be a drop-in family art workshop during May half-term, free with entry to the museum.
Kelly O’Reilly in Milton’s garden