Exterior of the museum
|Former name||Wilton Park Museum|
|Location||Batley, West Yorkshire|
|Nearest parking||On site (no charge)|
The building was originally a mansion called 'The Woodlands', built by mill owner George Sheard in 1875. When Sheard died in 1902, no buyer could be found for the elaborate Gothic revival structure—originally costing £25,000 (equivalent to £2,313,354 in 2018)—and so it was acquired by the local authority for a nominal price of £5. It was converted into a museum by Walter Bagshaw in 1911. Originally called the Wilton Park Museum, it was renamed in honour of its first curator following Bagshaw's death in 1927.
The museum was founded using Bagshaw's own private collection. After his death, his daughter Violet Bagshaw continued to travel and acquire objects to donate to the museum. The museum's holdings were significantly expanded in 1929, when it acquired 170 pieces from the collection of John Hilditch, a well known orientalist. Hilditch displayed a large part of his collection in a travelling exhibition, and his will bequeathed it to wherever the exhibition was when he died. In the event, this happened to be the Bagshaw Museum.
A portion of the museum's collection was stolen in 1997.
In early 2016, it was reported that Kirklees Council was considering closing the museum in order to meet budget cuts. As of 2017[update], it remains open, with the nearby Dewsbury Museum and Red House Museum closing instead. However, according to the Museums Association, Bagshaw's future remains "uncertain".
The centrepiece of the Egyptological display is a full size replica mummy, created by curator John Lidster in 1969, using a genuinely historic death mask, bandages and ground coffee. However the museum holds an eclectic collection of bona fide antiquities and ethnographic artefacts. These include a 7th century BCE Egyptian coffin inscribed with the name of its occupant in hieroglyphs; a carving of Sekhmet from the 26th Dynasty of Egypt; a wooden figurine of Han dynasty general Guan Yu; a carved coconut head from the South Pacific islands; a carving of the Hindu deity Garuda; a decorated box from British India; an Aboriginal Australian spear thrower; and a 19th century sword from Sudan.
The museum also holds a substantial collection of Asian textiles, including Japanese and Chinese pieces from the Hilditch collection, subsequent donations from private individuals, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Imperial Institute, and recent acquisitions from South Asia.
In the 1950s, the Contemporary Art Society donated a Francis Bacon painting (Figure Study II) to Bagshaw Museum, which now has an estimated value of between £19.5 million and £60 million. The piece is not on public display because Kirklees Council consider it "too valuable to be exhibited locally", and were reported to be considering selling it. Kirklees Council later confirmed to the Museums Association that the conditions of the donation meant that the work could not be sold.
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- Haigh, Malcolm H. (1978). The History of Batley: 1800–1974. Batley: Malcolm H. Haigh. p. 154.
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- Bagshaw Museum (2012-09-03). "Sekhmet Pendant - Yorkshire World Collections". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- Bagshaw Museum (2012-02-28). "Chinese Warrior". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- Bagshaw Museum (2012-07-16). "Carved Coconut Head - Yorkshire World Collections". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-13). "Hindu god Garuda". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-20). "Anglo-Indian inlaid casket". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-21). "Australian Aboriginal Spear Thrower". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- Bagshaw Museum (2012-08-22). "Sudanese Sword". My Learning. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- Parveen, Nazia (2016-12-28). "Kirklees council considers selling Francis Bacon painting". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
- "Kirklees Council Backs Down". Museums Association. 2017-04-10. Retrieved 2017-12-16.