The Wilson, Cheltenham

Polly Lyonm, 15.06.2017
A volunteer-run loan box service
The Wilson, Cheltenham’s art gallery and museum, reopened in 2012 after a £6 million redevelopment to transform the gallery spaces, create an open archive, and new centre for lifelong learning. 

The museum, which is part of the Cheltenham Trust, has a focus on engaging with and enriching the lives of residents and tourists. A full and varied learning and events programme is at the heart of this mission, which aims to create unique experiences using our collections and temporary exhibitions as inspiration. 

At the centre of our learning programme is the Takeaway Loans Service. This began in the 1960s as a way to supplement the education programme and make use of objects surplus to the requirement of the permanent museum collections.

Today, the Takeaway is made up of more than 2,000 objects organised into more than 400 themed boxes, including the Arts and Crafts Movement, ethnography and geology.

We also offer a selection of stand-alone objects such as radios, gramophones, telephones and vacuum cleaners, as well as a small collection of replica costume.

Most of the boxes contain a combination of original and replica artefacts, plus a selection of teaching resources such as photographs, letters, ration books, first-hand accounts, music and books.

The Takeaway is well-used by our 110 subscribers, largely made up of schools, colleges and universities, but also featuring local care homes and home educators.

As well as enhancing the delivery of school lessons, objects are used by film students as props in productions, themed displays out in the community, as stimulus for reminiscence, and subject matter for drawing and still life.

The Takeaway is entirely run by a team of dedicated volunteers. It generates a small income through subscriptions but is subsidised by the Cheltenham Trust.

Polly Lyonm is the learning coordinator, arts and culture, at the Wilson. For any more information about the Takeaway Loans Service email or call 01242 775702