Different types of hats in a display case

Previous Exhibitions (Colchester)

We have a programme of temporary exhibitions which give us the opportunity to highlight community stories of local people. It also allows us to showcase objects from our collections which are not on permanent display.

You can find out about some of our previous exhibitions in Hollytrees Museum below.

Alice in Wonderland Exhibition

November 2015 – February 2016

Tumble down the rabbit hole with Hollytrees Museum this winter, with a very special Alice in Wonderland display. To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Lewis Carol’s classic novel, an area of Hollytrees Museum in Castle Park will be transformed into a wonderland of wintery magic from Saturday 28 November 2015.

A copy of the novel printed in 1895 will take pride of place in the special display, which will be showcased with bespoke lighting and projections. Three special themed cases – The Alice Case, The Mad Hatter Case and The Red Queen Case – will show a range of interesting and exciting wonderland related objects- from antique ‘drink me’ and ‘eat me’ medicine and poison bottles, to hares and dormice from the Natural History Museum collection, ready for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!

Accessorise All Areas

December 2013 – 31 May 2014

This exhibition gives an insight into the accessories that were used for both fashion and function by men and women to complete their appearance. The display includes a 2000 year old hair pin which shows how fashionable women in the Roman world copied hairstyles of the imperial court. There are many examples of richly decorated items such as a Tudor men’s cap which is embroidered with metal thread and sequins.  There are also some unusual items such as a Victorian muff or hand-warmer made from a King Emperor penguin and a walking stick which transforms into a saw.

Life's Rich Tapestry

March 2011 – September 2011

Showcasing a textile artwork created by 18 women from the Colchester and Tendring Women’s Refuge working with artist Alison Stockmarr. Created over 10 weeks it weaves together their stories and experiences through words and photographs. This exhibition is part of a year long project called Out in the Open where the museum service is working with people who have experienced homelessness.


Straw : Bonnets to Boaters

September 2010 – February 2011

An exhibition focusing on straw hats and the techniques involved in making them. The exhibition featured over twenty straw hats, ranging from 1830s to today, from Colchester and Ipswich’s collections. Also on show, 3 paintings from Ipswich’s art collection, including Woman reading on a couch by Philip Wilson Steer, and some of the tools used to create the straw-plait for hats.


Be Prepared! ... to celebrate the Centenary of Girl Guiding

March 2010 – September 2010

This exhibition explored 100 years of Girl Guiding in Essex. The display was produced in partnership with the North East Essex Guide Archive and included some beautiful and rare items from the earliest days of Guiding in Essex.


Stadium Legends

January 2010 – February 2010

Stadium Legends was an intergenerational community project co-ordinated by Colchester United Community Sports Trust. A central part of the project was recording the memories and thoughts of past players and supporters through film, artworks, and performance which were then showcased in the exhibition. The touring exhibition, coordinated by the museum service, illustrated the link between football, communities and emotional well-being.


Holding Back the Tide

October 2009 – January 2010

An exhibition in partnership with Coastnet, an organisation which has been working to increase awareness of the changes in cultural and natural heritage of the East of England coast over the past 50 years. Inspired by oral history interviews which recorded people’s experiences of living by the coast, this exhibition highlighted the significance of the East Anglian coastline and its impact on the people who live near it.


A Cast of Thousands : The 1909 Colchester Pageant

July 2009 – September 2009

Marking the centenary of the Colchester Pageant, the exhibition told the story of the thousands of people involved in creating this significant moment in the town’s history. The exhibition included unique items from Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service’s collection, as well as loans from members of the public.


Stitching Time

March 2009 – June 2009

An exhibition of needlework and sewing accessories from the Colchester and Ipswich Museums’ costume collections. The exhibition celebrated how sewing and needlework has been taught and passed on as part of everyday life for over four hundred years 


Empire of Care

October 2008 – March 2009

An exhibition about the lives and stories of the nurses who came to Colchester to work for the NHS, recruited from other countries throughout the Commonwealth Empire. The exhibition used objects, oral histories, photographs and press cuttings to bring the story of Colchester’s overseas nurses to life.


Social History Collections

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