The second museum we paid a visit to on Tuesday was Compton Verney, which in terms of size presents a noticeable contrast to little Marton Museum of Country Bygones. We have now visited one of each type of museum in the cohort – council-funded medium-sized museums (Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum), small volunteer-run museums (Marton, Chedham’s Yard) and centuries-old country manor houses (Compton Verney, Shugborough).
Compton Verney has a long history, but the gallery is only ten years old. Its varied collection of European painting and sculpture and Chinese bronze has won it international recognition. The manor also has extensive grounds containing a restored ice-house (predecessor to the modern freezer, I learned).
Compton Verney is such a large site, and our time was limited, so we weren’t able to look at every room. The heating system they have at Compton Verney is uniquely eco-conscious in that it is sourced in the lake on the grounds. 70% of the old building is heated by this system, only topped up by electricity. The water is then returned to the lake, not before it is cooled to protect the lake’s eco-system. I admit to having relatively little knowledge about how these things work, but the staff at Compton Verney were very thorough in their explanation of it all.
There are parts of Compton Verney that are over three hundred years old, and some of the artefacts are even older – some of the Chinese bronzes, for example, date back to the Shang Dynasty which ended in 1050 BC. Naturally it will be important to protect all of these things while the museum goes green.
But there is no job too big or small for us!