ELHAS Meeting Report November 2008

The final meeting for 2008, attended by 25 members and guests was an illustrated talk about the new Leeds City Museum by Katherine Baxter Curator of Archaeology for Leeds Museums and Galleries. Katherine has held this post in Leeds for three and a half years, and most of her time here has been spent in preparing for the opening of the city's new museum. She previously worked in Manchester, having done her degree there. and has also spent time working on excavations in such exotic locations as Bahrain, Cyprus and Jerusalem. A far cry from a rainy November evening in an east Leeds suburb. Nonetheless we were delighted to welcome Katherine to our meeting to give us an insight into the work and planning that has taken place over the last nine years and has culminated in our superb new museum. Katherine began her talk by explaining the many and varied locations in the city, such as Temple Newsam, Abbey House Museum, Thwaite Mills, etc, which are the responsibility of Leeds Museums and Galleries. She then went on to talk about the new museum which, since it's opening in September has attracted over 80,000 visitors. She explained that alongside the development of the museum, the Leeds Museum Discovery Centre had been purpose built to safely house the many thousands of objects in the museum's collection. The coins and archaeology collections alone amount to over 40,000 items. Katherine showed many particularly interesting images during her talk tracing the development of the museum from its empty shell as the former Civic Theatre to the stunning showcase it is today. But the ones the audience most enjoyed were the pictures of items being conserved, particularly the polar bear having a shampoo, and the lengths the team had to go to in order to safely move the Leeds Mummy, Nesyamun to his new home. This involved borrowing a stretcher from a mountain rescue team, and Katherine said it was the scariest day of her life.. At the end of her talk, the audience engaged in a lively question and answer session, and I'm sure Katherine was encouraged to hear that she had inspired some who have not yet visited the museum, to make a trip there as soon as possible. The evening ended with drinks and mince pies to celebrate the beginning of the festive season.

The next meeting on Monday 26th January 2009 will be a talk by Leeds Guide, Ken Goor on "The Darker Side of Leeds"