MUSE: Makers in Museums

Somerset and Devon Museums Inspire Exciting Contemporary Art Show

Opens Saturday 11 November to Saturday 3 February

Free entry

New work from eight artists inspired by the unique objects and stories found in community-led museums is going on display at The Museum of Somerset.

Re-interpretations of historic artefacts

Since May the artists have been working with small volunteer-run museums in Somerset and Devon as part of the ‘MUSE: Makers in Museums’ project.

On display will be key works by Emma Molony, Taja, Jess Davies, Jacky Oliver, Dorcas Casey, Sean Harris, Andrea Oke and Caitlin Heffernan.

Through their creative re-interpretations the artists have brought historic artefacts into the modern day.

Industrial heritage from Chard, Axminster carpets, Teignmouth ship building and excavations at Wookey Hole are amongst the stories represented.

Caitlin postcard out small

Caitlin Heffernan is an installation artist working with textiles, sculpture and drawing to explore and respond to Chard’s industrial heritage.

“The exhibition showcases contemporary craft and many of the stories highlighted are linked to historic crafts or rural industries,”  explained Rachel Bellamy from the South West Heritage Trust, which led the project.

More online 

Discover more about the ‘MUSE: Makers in Museums’ project and read the artists’ blog at

Bruton Museum Dorcas Casey image Jasper Casey small

Inspired by the animal-shaped jelly moulds in the Bruton Museum stores, Dorcas Casey’s crocodile comes from casting from antique jelly moulds to reveal emblematic shapes © Jasper Casey

With grateful thanks

The project was awarded more than £80,000 by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. It has been led by the South West Heritage Trust in partnership with the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Somerset Art Works and the Community Museums Development Officer for Devon.

“This project has provided an important opportunity for the selected artists to create exciting new work, to be inspired by the collections and, in turn, to inspire visitors to the museums.”

Erica Steer, Executive Director, Devon Guild of Craftsmen 

“We’re very pleased to support this project through our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme which provides new experiences for the museums involved and the contemporary artists.

“These cross-discipline collaborations open up more possibilities for interesting and exciting creative work, benefiting the public, artists and practitioners that work across these boundaries. ‘MUSE: Makers in Museums’ helps to achieve our mission for more people in more places to experience, participate and be inspired by arts and culture.”

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England

“Thanks to £33,200 raised by National Lottery players, this exciting exhibition is set to provide a creative gateway for communities to explore the heritage treasures in their local museums.”

Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West

Participating museums in Somerset are Axbridge and District Museum, Bruton Museum, Chard and District Museum, and Wells and Mendip Museum. In Devon they are Axminster Heritage, Teign Heritage Centre, The Museum of Dartmoor Life, and Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum.

Also on now

Henry VII: The First Royal Portrait. An extraordinary image of the Tudor king to be displayed in Taunton Castle where he faced the rebel leader Perkin Warbeck. On loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Read more

Colours of Exile: The Art of Hans Schwarz. See vibrant paintings of places and people by the Austrian artist who made his home in London and West Somerset. Read more