Friday, April 18, 2014

Curling Connections

The Dumfries Museum was founded in 1835 as an astronomical observatory and museum in a stone windmill built about 1790 on Corberry Hill. A Camera Obscura in the tower is still a popular attraction. The main hall of the museum was built in 1862 and houses collections from all over Dumfries and Galloway.

The museum is worth a visit at any time, but from today until June 15, there is a special exhibition, 'Curling Connections', celebrating that Dumfries Ice Bowl is the venue for the World Seniors and the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships. The exhibition examines the social importance of curling and reveals the contribution to the development of the sport made by the people of Dumfries and Galloway.

As well as local items, some of the rarest artifacts from the history of the sport have been brought together for this exhibition. Display boards and descriptive labels tell the story.

More modern memorabilia, on loan from some of the region's 'local heroes', is also on show.

My pick as the star attraction? Seeing the first Olympic Winter Games gold medal awarded for curling in 1924, alongside the gold medal won by Rhona Martin in 2002!

There's spectacular video footage to watch. And any children will find there are lots of activities for them to do too.

Almost the whole team was in action yesterday to set out the final display showing the 'evolution' of the curling stone, with a variety of examples to ponder over. The workers were: (Back L-R) Kayleigh (museum intern), J-P (museum attendant). Front: Siobhan (museum curator), Joanne (museums officer) and Catherine (museums officer).

And here's how this area of the exhibition looked with just hours to go to the (soft) opening today. World Curling Federation President Kate Caithness will be the guest of honour at the official opening on April 22. The exhibition will run until June 15.

Photos and text by Bob Cowan

Friday, April 04, 2014

Olympic gold medal to star at Curling Connections

by Bob Cowan

Arrangements are well in hand for the Curling Connections exhibition in Dumfries Museum, set to open on April 18. The exhibition, featuring many aspects of curling's history, runs in parallel with the World Seniors and World Mixed Doubles championships with their slogan of 'Bringing Curling Home'.

The exhibition will emphasise local Dumfries and Galloway associations with curling over the centuries. A huge variety of items has been brought together for the exhibition which is being co-ordinated by Siobhan Ratchford and her curatorial team at the Dumfries Museum, with much input from local curler and former Scottish Champion Graeme Adam.

Many items to go on show have worldwide significance. For example, the Scottish Curling Trust has loaned an Olympic Gold Medal, one of two owned by the Trust which were awarded to Willie and Laurence Jackson, the skip and lead of the team which represented Great Britain in the first Olympic curling competition in Chamonix in 1924. This will be the first time in recent years that such a medal has been on public display!

The evolution of the curling stone will be well illustrated, and on display will be the Stirling Stone, the best known example of a loofie, the earliest type of curling stone, on loan from the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

These are just two examples. I won't spoil the surprise by describing any other exhibits. Suffice to say that you won't be disappointed!
Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum
Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum

My own interest in the history of curling was ignited when I visited a display in the Perth Museum during the 1975 Silver Broom. Hopefully, Curling Connections will similarly enthuse visitors. The exhibition will run for a while after the events at the Ice Bowl are over - until June 15. Don't miss it!

Aside from my memories, I only have two images from that 1975 exhibition. This one has been rescued from a 35mm slide of the advert outside the Perth Museum.

And this is the only 35mm slide I have of the exhibition itself. I wonder if any more images from 1975 have survived anywhere?

The catalogue of the 1975 exhibition survives in this A4 booklet which has a ten page 'Introduction', written by David B Smith, an elegant summary of the sport's history.

Photos from the Bob Cowan archive