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Friends of the Willis Museum Logo

A registered charity that promotes, supports, assists and helps improve the Willis Museum in Basingstoke.

Our Contributions to the Museum over the Years

The Friends have acted as a source of volunteer helpers for the museum, both “front of house” and behind the scenes.

As a fund raising body they have made a substantial contribution to the museum’s infrastructure, equipment and exhibits.

They have helped to fund two stair lifts and have purchased two wheelchairs to facilitate access for all visitors to the upper floors.

When the museum was extensively refurbished in 2008/9 and hidden or lost features of Lewis Wyatt’s elegant 1832 design were uncovered or restored, the Friends paid for the restoration of the original coving on the newly uncovered ground floor ceiling. Previously they had helped to fund the restoration of an original chandelier above the stair well, and new lighting for the exhibits.

A recent contribution has been additional storage shelving for the re-located Local History Resources Room where visitors with research enquiries are received and helped. Some additional books for the reference library housed in this room have also been purchased recently.

Other equipment the Friends have helped to fund are a microfiche reader, computer, scanner and printer for the Local History Resources Room; and for the archaeology gallery/meeting room: stackable chairs, sound equipment, and a new projector screen.

The Friends have also helped to buy some key exhibits or in some cases purchased them outright. These include a rare 13/14th century decorated gold ring found in Tadley, and a ceramic tooth powder box from the shop of nineteenth century Basingstoke Chemist, Arkas Sapp. Particularly noteworthy is The Basing House Raised Work Embroidery, for which they also helped to purchase a special controlled environment display cabinet.

More recently the Friends bought for the museum an engraved silver salver that had been presented by the Borough in 1894 to local benefactor and some time mayor, John May. Among his gifts to the town was a clock tower for the Town Hall (now the Willis Museum). This proved too heavy for the roof and had to be taken down in 1961, but the clock mechanism has been kept as a museum exhibit.

Just recently the Friends acquired an acrylic cover to protect the detailed model of the Museum and its surrounding heritage buildings.