Curators' Blog

It’s all a matter of Perspex

Close-up example of the intricacies of Perspex Photograph by Toby Phillips

Having very recently ordered some made-to-measure Perspex stands for some of our objects, our long-time Curator and Manager of Horsham Museum, Jeremy Knight, recalled his experiences of creating stands, some 35 years ago.

He explained that in the early days he had the task of displaying prehistoric flints. He was given strips of Perspex, told to light a candle (and this is where it gets a bit more worrying) – and then hold the Perspex over the candle flame to melt it so he could twist it to the desired shape!  Hold onto your hats, Health and Safety people…

He went on to say that if the flame was held too close, it would render the Perspex singed black and useless. So, carefully holding it over the flame, whilst quite probably breathing in the lovely fumes, Jeremy created the stands. Very conscientious of him, but rather over and above the call of duty by today’s standards, we think!

He said would occasionally cut the Perspex using a hacksaw – but if he went too fast, the Perspex would melt so the blade would become stuck rigid.  Apparently the same happened if he was ever given a drill bit to make a hole in the Perspex – too fast, and the pesky Perspex melded itself to the drill bit and spun round merrily on the desk top, in the room.  Nightmare for him, but a total horror story for all Health and Safety people!

Anyway, a year’s work and 26 display cases later, Jeremy had created display fixings for the Mesolithic and Neolithic gallery at Devizes Museum.

Thankfully, all that has changed – we now have a Portslade based company called Striking Displays who make our Perspex stands in their studio. We basically tell them what we want, and they magically create the solution – whether for lorinery (that’s bridle bits to the non-horse people), tiny Anglo Saxon beads, or the plastic box that houses a young girl’s (rather adorable) teddy bear in our new exhibition Making Summer Bearable.

Health and Safety people, you can now come out of hiding….!