Avid readers paying close attention might remember that a few months ago I visited the site of the new museum in Pinner, north London, dedicated to illustrator William Heath Robinson. Well, today the Heath Robinson Museum opened to the public, and I was there at the opening ceremony, taking some photos, and having a long-awaited first look inside.
Well, here it is. The new museum, with chairs set out ready for the opening ceremony.
There were various speeches telling the story of the museum and thanking everyone who has made it a reality. This is Dr Peter Higginson, art historian, great nephew of William Heath Robinson and Chair of the William Heath Robinson Trust addressing the crowd.
Michael Rosen, writer, poet, Professor of Children’s Literature and former Pinner resident, speaks before officially opening the museum.
This is a ribbon-cutting machine used for the official moment of opening. It had been made by children from a local school. I liked the lab coats.
Understandably, everyone wanted to see the new museum, so there was a slight queue as we waited so that it didn’t get too overcrowded.
So, here we are, inside. There are two main rooms, the one pictured above is a permanent gallery showing Heath Robinson’s different styles of work, the second a space for temporary exhibitions, which currently has a selection of his war pictures, many of which are some of my favourites. There is also an education / activity space and a shop. The museum is quite small compared with some, but there is so much to see that that really doesn’t matter.
Some Heath Robinson colour pictures. These are lit by spotlights on the upper walls, leaving the lower walls for the black and white cartoons and illustrations.
I love this Heath-Robinson-esque roof detail inside the gallery.
This is a superb model of a number of Heath Robinson illustrations from the book ‘How to live in a flat’. The model is by an architecture student, Estera Badelita. Entirely superb. This was on show next door in West House, which houses the loos and a very good cafe.
Every museum opening should involve some Morris dancers. There was a steel band, storytelling, and all kinds of other entertainment. Oh, plus tea and cake.
The museum, gift shop on the left. I may have made one or two purchases.
So, in summary: today was a splendid day out for me as a Heath Robinson enthusiast, but I think lots of people would enjoy it. I am so so happy that this museum is now a reality. Heath Robinson is, in my opinion at least, one of the great British artists, and certainly one of my main influences as a cartoonist.
Please do go and visit if you can. You can find all information on the website – do check it before travelling as the museum isn’t open every day. I’d say it is suitable for kids if they will appreciate brilliant humorous illustration, but don’t expect lots of hands-on buttons-to-press things-to-do exhibits like at the Science Museum. Pinner is very reachable on the tube, and not as far out as you think, so please do consider it as a possible day out.