Post-war music scene items wanted for Museum & Art Swindon

The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who are just some of the huge bands who have played in Swindon over the years.

Published: Tuesday, 14th May 2024

Museum & Art music collection

And now curators at Museum & Art Swindon are putting together a new permanent collection to celebrate Swindon’s popular music culture, which will go on display in the new galleries when Museum & Art Swindon opens its doors at the Civic Offices.

Over the past six months, volunteers from the museum’s Out on the Town Arts Council England-funded Unlocking Collections project have been working through the museum’s collection of objects and programmes related to the town’s theatres and event venues.

They’ve discovered some of the amazing material in the Museum & Art collections that relate to the cultural life of Swindon after 1945.

The volunteer researchers have confirmed that whilst Museum & Art Swindon’s collection has a variety of objects which tell the stories of the various Swindon theatres over time, the same can’t be said for the music venues or performers who have visited or grew up in the town.

The museum is keen to hear from people who would like to donate material relating to McIlroys Ballroom, The Brunel Rooms, Locarno, the Oasis or any other music venue that attracted top talent such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or Status Quo, after the Second World War.

They are also interested in material related to Swindon-based bands, most notably XTC. Objects could include programmes, ticket stubs, t-shirts or posters.

John Wood, Swindon Museums’ Collections and Exhibitions’ Manager said: “I’m not surprised that we’ve found this gap.

“Our collection grows through donations, and people may not have considered these things to be important. For us, however, they are a significant part of the history of the town which we’re really keen to represent.

“The objects don’t have to be old either, we’ll happily consider material from 1945 right up to the present day. Any items we accept into the collections will be preserved for the future and add to the stories we can tell.”

Councillor Marina Strinkovsky, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Heritage, Art and Culture, said: “Swindon is steeped in history and culture and our job as custodians of our fantastic collections is to ensure they can be celebrated now and in the future.

“I’m really grateful to John and the rest of the curatorial team for organising this appeal for objects from our popular music culture as the list of bands that have visited Swindon is staggering.

“If you were there when Mick Jagger played with The Stones at McIlroy’s Ballroom we’d love to hear from you, and the same goes for anyone who saw The Yardbirds at the Locarno, Elton John at the County Ground or Paul Simon at The Castle.

“If you have an old ticket, programme or t-shirt from the gig in your loft we’d love to add it to our collection so we can create an amazing record of some special events in our town.”

Anyone who is interested in donating items to the museum can contact the Museum & Art Swindon team by emailing with details of the objects available for donation, along with pictures.

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