2023 In Review

2023 has been an eventful year for Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. The year began with our hugely successful Shoji Hamada exhibition, summer was enlivened by Signs of the Seaside, and in September for our 10th birthday since the redevelopment we opened Double Weave a celebration of the fantastic modernist textiles of Hilary Bourne and her partner Barbara Allen. This exhibition has been a real labour of love for us, with much original research undertaken with a team of collaborators, and has resulted in a much deeper knowledge and understanding of their work. Hilary Bourne went on to found the museum in 1985 with her sister Joanna, so it’s a doubly appropriate exhibition for this birthday moment.

Alongside all of that we went to the Coronation Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and raised the funds to mend our roof, which has been leaking as long as I’ve worked at the museum. This is important to safeguard our collection for the future, and should save us money on maintenance too.

It has been another challenging financial year. Cost of living price increases affect museums as much as individuals in their own lives, and utilities costs, materials and indeed everything else is going up. We launched a birthday appeal £10 for 10 years in September, and if you’re able to donate £10 or more we would be enormously grateful. Thank you to everyone who has already done so.

Finally we’ve embarked on a major project to increase earned income this year, to make the most of our award winning shop and other commercial activities which support the charity. We’ve launched some fantastic new products based on objects from the museum’s collection, and hope to do more next year. Every penny spent in our shop and café supports the work of the museum, so the more we can earn the more we can spend on benefitting our communities.

Next year we’re looking forward to some really special exhibitions and starting on a major project to look at how we tell our core story about Ditching and its community of artists and makers, and how their work and lives are still inspirational and relevant today. We will be working with local communities and specialists on this project, which will eventually result in a new permanent display of work from our collection which tells this story in an engaging and accessible way.

Thank you to everyone who has visited this year, taken part in a workshop, bought something from our shop or café or helped us in other ways. Your interest and support is vital to the museum remaining a lively and vibrant resource in the village and beyond.

Have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to an exciting new year in 2024!

Steph