The Clangers, Bagpuss & Co touring exhibition is on until October 29 at the Ipswich Art Gallery (by the Ipswich Museum). Tuesday – Saturday: 10am - 5pm. Sundays: 11am-5pm. Admission free www.cimuseums.org.uk there, a gleaming Tibetan shrine. Memories of keeping Ipswich home fires burning and much-treasured medals of wartime bravery. Shiny brass Victorian telescopes and the glint of well-oiled Ipswich engineering history. By Anglo-Saxon scenes set to share the life and times of local ancestors, the Boss Hall brooch glints garnets and gold. Nearby, 840 gold Iceni coins - the Iron Age Wickham Market Hoard - can’t help but catch the eye. A sandy coloured corridor marked ‘Egypt’ leads down pyramid passageways to 4,000-year-old models of ancient life, like the butcher, baker and beermaker. Little ones just love crawling through the Howard Carter-sized hole for views of “wonderful things” – a decorated sarcophagus and the 2,000-year-old gold burial mask of Titos Flavios Demetrios. But Bagpuss-lovers probably wouldn’t be too impressed by the mummified moggies.
From Roman mosaics to Peruvian pots, and great colourful capes all the way from Pacific to Eskimo canoes, what the Ipswich Museum manages to share is mind-blowing, yet surely just the tip of the iceberg. On the museum’s inside balcony, above the array of great stuffed beasties, former museum trainee Tim is now off-duty, but the dapper chap can’t help admiring the fine silk waistcoat in the Georgian Ipswich display, although having confessed to dressing up as a Celt recently in the name of live interpretation, the floral brocade footwear is surely not quite his style. Almost every Ipswich era lined up here is graced with a carefully selected pair of shoes. Geoffrey Chaucer would have approved.
“I’m so proud to be from Ipswich,” announces Tim out of nowhere, yet definitely somewhere. “When I was a trainee, we didn’t focus on one specific area of museum life, but spent time in all departments. It’s all symbiotic and invaluable. Putting things together has really helped my understanding and ability to share the bigger picture.” Ah, no wonder Bagpuss and the woolly mammouth make the best of neighbours.