The glass collections are managed Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council Museum Service. In 1980 it numbered about 2,000 items. Today that number has risen to over 8,500. The majority of objects originate from this area and date from the 19th and 20th centuries. However, there are also important groups of British glass from other periods. The Parkington Bequest, for example, filled a major gap with its stunning 18th century pieces.
Local government cuts terminated the annual purchase fund. Now we draw upon other sources to purchase items of importance. Since 1986 generous sponsorship has come from the engineering group, Hulbert of Dudley via their supportive Managing Director Graham Knowles.
Since their founding in 1994, the Friends of Broadfield House Glass Museum have raised over £30,000 towards assistance with purchases.
Capital grants from DMBC allowed us to acquire expensive items of cameo and engraved glass with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Art Collections Fund.
Loans from private individuals, glass companies and other institutions form a sizeable amount of the collections.
Loans often comprise of glass which is under-represented in the Museum Service's own holdings. The service cares for a number of significant collections on long-term loan, as well as important individual items. These include a large collection of glass walking sticks, and the largest collection in the UK of imported Carnival Glass.
The Keatley Trust is one example, specialising in loans of 20th century material to museums.
When we cannot obtain a suitable example to represent a glass artist it will sometimes commission special pieces for the collection. Keith Cummings, David Peace, David Smith from Webb Corbett and Cyril Kimberley from Thomas Webb were commissioned to create unique works.
For the Millennium celebrations, Broadfield House Glass Museum commissioned twelve artists to create a group of works based on the local glass history and the hopes for the new era. Six artists worked with community groups to produce site-specific works for each groups' building while another six created individual pieces for the collection. Funding was obtained from Dudley Council and the Millennium Festival Fund.
The Black Country has been home to glassmaking for over 400 years and you can explore this heritage from your own home with these websites:
Black Country History lets you explore the collections cared for by the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council Museum Service.
In Pinterest we have created several albums that reveal different aspects of the collections and the Museum Service.
Just Glass reveals one of the largest paperweight exhibitions held at Broadfield House Glass Museum. This was photographed by Brian Slater of Just Glass and most of the paperweight collection can be viewed here.
The collection is secured at the Museum Service's stores. Viewing is by appointment only. Please use these contact details if you wish to do so.