A new museum exhibiting a collection of artefacts and archives associated with shoe manufacturer Clarks has been commissioned by the collection’s owner, the Alfred Gillett Trust.

The trust, set up in 2002, is a charitable organisation set up to safeguard and preserve the collection and archives associated with the Clark family and C & J Clark Ltd.

In 2019 Clarks announced that its previous shoe museum, open since 1951 and housing 1,500 artefacts dating to the Roman period, was to close. In 2020 the Alfred Gillett Trust took possession of the collection.

Nissen Richards Studio, the project’s Design and Interpretation Consultants, has been commissioned by the Trust to work with its curatorial team on the content, visitor experience and exhibition design for the new Museum.

Art Fund – News
An artist's impression of the new museums shows a room filled with shelves of shoe boxes and shoes

It said the new museum will explore the history of shoemaking, Clarks’ company history and the people and family behind its creation.

A series of exhibitions and dedicated spaces for community and learning are planned, telling the stories of manufacture and innovation connected to the local shoemaking industry.

The new Museum will be located in Street, the same Somerset village as the original museum, and where brothers Cyrus and James Clark first set up in business in 1825.

The first phase of the new Museum is due to open in 2025, with a second phase still to be announced.

Architects Purcell are lead consultants on the scheme, which will encompass both new build elements and repurposed historic buildings.

Elin Simonsson, Head of Interpretation and Experience at Nissen Richards Studio said the collection “holds incredible potential for engaging people with a wide variety of themes and stories, from evolution and geology to the cultural histories of shoes and shoemaking.

“As well as drawing visitors from far and wide, it will also become an active hub for the Clarks, Street and wider surrounding communities.”

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