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The Collection is the county museum and gallery for Lincolnshire in England. It is an amalgamation of the Usher Gallery and the City and County Museum in such a way that they can work more effectively together than hitherto. The museum part of the enterprise is housed in a new, purpose-built building close by the Usher gallery in the city of Lincoln.


The site

Lincoln consists of two parts, that at the top of the the cliff and that in the Witham valley. The site of the collection is on the steep slope between the two and within the Roman colonia which linked the first century legionary fortress with the shipping and commerce in the river. The new building presents its qualities modestly so as to enhance its surroundings which, towards the end of the twentieth century had slightly developed the feeling of a no man's land.

  • Aerial view of the site. The Usher Gallery is visible in its gardens while the museum, on the western side of Danesgate, was not yet built when the photograph was taken.

The buildings

The Usher Gallery was designed by the architect, Sir Reginald Blomfield and was officially opened on 25 May, 1927 by the Prince of Wales. It is a basically simple building faced in stone with brick panels separated by simplified Tuscan pilasters above which is a frieze decorated with triglyphs and a roof line finished with a balustrade. The portico, central in the south façade, is topped by a broken pediment and urn finials. It stands in a small park on the hillside looking southwards across the lower town.

The new building, designed by the architectural firm of Panter Hudspith (project architect, Hugh Strange), was opened in October 2005 after much hard work including an archaeological excavation. Despite the building's having been designed to rest above the Roman horizon, at the foot of the pit for the lift shaft, it just found the corner of a mosaic-paved passage which had been laid around a courtyard.

Much of the building is faced and paved with Ancaster stone and borrows the concept of the glass-covered courtyard from the British Museum in a feature reminiscent of a medieval alley. This exemplifies the design. The various requirements of the building, permanent display, temporary exhibitions, teaching, café and so on, are represented by corresponding elements of the building which give it, internally and externally, the feeling of an urban community, though the whole forms a distinctive unit in the townscape.

The main entrance is at the northern, uphill end and leads past, to the left, the café which faces south across a sculpturally interesting courtyard and to the right, the shop. Passing the reception desk leads to the orientation hall which is the glass-covered 'alley' passing east to west. From it, the visitor reaches auditorium where video or personal introductions to the museum or to education courses may be given; the education suite; the archaeological collection or the New Curtois Gallery, where touring exhibitions are housed. Below these last two, at the downhill end of the building, are the stores and workshops which service the whole.

The exhibits

The sample of mosaic, exposed by the pre-construction archaeological excavation is now on view inside as part of a display extending through all periods from the pre-glacial. It includes a satellite photograph of the county of Lincolnshire on a scale which permits fields and villages to be sought out while the picture's extent allows a general pattern of geology and the influence of the Roman roads to show through.

The long-established displays include furniture, clocks and other forms of the decorative arts, from Usher's collection. There is a range of fine art works by Turner, Piper and Lowry. The gallery's specialism is in the works of Peter De Wint, a former Lincoln resident. Four galleries of various sizes are set aside for temporary exhibitions.

Gulbenkian Prize

In May 2006, The Collection was on a short list of four innovative museums being considered for the 2006 Gulbenkian Prize. The results were announced on 25 May 2006 [1] and the prize was awarded to SS Great Britain [2].


External links

Coordinates: 53°13′54″N 0°32′14″W / 53.2318°N 0.5373°W / 53.2318; -0.5373



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