The Puzzle Museum - Status and Objectives

     

The Puzzle Museum is a private collection-based museum. In the 1990s much time was spent trying to find suitable premises to open to the public but, unfortunately, we were not successful. Ironically, since that time various major collections have been given to the museum, including the incomparable Hordern Collection; however, owing to lack of appropriate facilities, it is not currently open to the general public and has to be held at various different locations. Visitors, mostly world experts in the field, can come by invitation, or recommendation only.

The collection is the finest of its type in the world. It is the product of over 110 years of collecting starting with the Rev. Henry Stanley Mercer in the 1880s in Australia. The major contributors over the last century have included Louis Bloncourt, T.H.O'Beirne, Eileen Scott, Edward Hornby, Mary Hillier, Edward Hordern and James Dalgety.

The collection includes a few items of great antiquity; however its main strengths are the 19th Century European collection, and its near comprehensive collection of puzzles from the last quarter of the 20th Century. It amounts to several tens of thousands of puzzles, plus ephemera and a related library. It is possibly 1,000 times larger than needed for a tourist based puzzle museum but is very appropriate as an international archive. It is extraordinary that, unlike such items as Dolls, Watches, Model Trains, or Toys, there is no good collection of Puzzles open to the public anywhere in the world. The Puzzle Museum has therefore given itself the following objectives: -

  • To produce an annotated digital photographic overview of the collection. The current plan is for this to be made freely available on the museum's website (at low resolution) and to be made available at high resolution, at a price, on CDs.
  • To maintain and conserve the existing collection for future generations. The collection is currently stored at several locations with basic controls of humidity and temperature. The policy with damaged puzzles is, where possible, to ensure that they work as intended; but otherwise to conserve them with the minimum of interference. It is considered that attempting to restore to "original condition" does more harm than good.
  • To add to, and improve, the collection by upgrading the existing collection, and purchasing representative examples of new puzzles.
  • To find a suitable home, preferably within the United Kingdom, to ensure the long-term future of the collection. This will either be in a public museum or with a private collector who is able and willing to adopt these objectives.
  • To enable at least parts of the collection to be seen by a much wider audience, and take advantage of the collection's huge potential as a didactic resource in many fields including Mathematics, History, 19th and 20th century Design, Packaging Design and, most importantly, the development of analytical thinking over the past 300 years.
  • To produce a comprehensive and detailed catalogue of the collection.
  • To look for funding and other means of achieving these objectives.

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