Why did The Salisbury Museum enter the Museums + Heritage Awards?
We were so proud of the HisWorld exhibition and really wanted to celebrate its success, particularly since it was a completely unique exhibition and collaboration with Rob Wilkins and the Estate of Sir Terry Pratchett, and Sir Terry’s family. Richard Henry, who curated the exhibition for the museum, took the initiative and entered us for the award.
What made Salisbury Museum’s Terry Pratchett: His World exhibition unique and successful?
It was a combination of a detailed look at the life and legacy of Sir Terry Pratchett in his own words, illustrated with some wonderful personal possessions kindly lent to us by his family and artworks from Josh Kirby and Paul Kidby. For fans of Sir Terry, there was also the opportunity to see a recreation of his study – ‘The Chapel’, which felt like he had literally just left his desk for a moment. The exhibition also had an emotional centre, in that fans were invited to write a letter to Sir Terry and pin it to a memory wall or post it in the post box. There were even costumes from Discworld characters to dress up in and we had a selfie competition to capture the moments.
How did visitor figures and interest compare to previous temporary exhibitions?
More than 21,000 visitors came to see the exhibition in the space of three months, which is record-breaking for the museum, particularly in the winter months when this exhibition was held. Visitors came from literally all four corners of the globe. One fantastic Australian girl even gave up her job to come to England and see the exhibition, because her employer would not allow her to take all her holiday at once. We found that the exhibition helped us to reach new audiences and it was wonderful to be able to introduce people to the museum and our collections of archaeology and history of the people of Salisbury. The press interest was also significant and along with reviews in the broadsheets, Jon Kay from the BBC news team came and recorded a piece that was subsequently aired on the Six O’Clock News.
Where does your award sit – is it on view to the public?
The award is on public display, in a case with a bust of Sir Terry Pratchett by the artist Paul Kidby. It looks stunning.
What temporary exhibitions have you featured since Terry Pratchett: His World or plan to in the future and how will these be influenced by the positive feedback?
We have recently shown a retrospective of the work of artist Henry Lamb, which ended last month. The effect of the success of the HisWorld exhibition has inspired us to re-evaluate our exhibitions programme.
What advice would you give to museums and heritage visitor attractions planning to enter the 2019 Museums + Heritage Awards?
It was the most incredible experience and our advice would be to enter the competition. You never know what might happen next.