THE WILSON

14 Mar

Cheltenham  Art Gallery and Museum  a which opened in 1899, has undergone a major refurbishment, costing over £6.000,000, has been reopened as ‘The Wilson’ after Edward Adrian Wilson. He would have been incredibly proud, as would his father, who opened a floor there in 1907.

The new name results from consultation with the community who were keen to upgrade the previous, somewhat old fashioned description.

When I researched my biography of Wilson I spent weeks in the museum. Among the many interesting  items there is an unpublished memoir, written by Wilson’s grieving father, on ‘Ted’s’ life and contributions and, poignantly, on the life of one of Ted’s sisters, Gwladys, the family’s ‘gleam of sunshine’, who died aged 5 after a short illness. There is also a central spread from the ‘Illustrated London News’ reporting on Wilson’s uncle, General Sir Charles Wilson, who led an expedition down the Nile in a failed attempt to rescue Gordon of Khartoum. Also a huge book, The Grouse Report, on which (as is often not known), Wilson worked for over 5 years, when he successfully investigated the cause of Grouse Disease, at that time decimating grouse in their thousands and causing  significant damage to the Scottish economy. Some of the changes advocated are in use still.

The Wilson includes a new building and resetting of  the museum’s contents. Wilson would have loved it.

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