What happened in the Ceramics Gallery during the Blitz?

7 April 2016 by Emma Martin

Museum staff picking up the pieces in the ceramics gallery after the Blitz

Museum staff picking up the pieces in the ceramics gallery after the Blitz

Lolo is working on the development of an on-line exhibition that explores what happened to World Museum during the Blitz. Here is his second blog, looking at the fate of the ceramics gallery.

The ceramics gallery was one of the galleries that suffered serious damage during the Blitz of May 1941. Rare pieces from the museum’s collection were still on display on the night of 3 May and as the museum crumbled many of the ceramics shattered into pieces.

The King of Prussia Jug

The King of Prussia Jug

Olivia and I have worked on collections across NML to build up a picture of what happened that night. When we started our research on  the ceramics gallery we talked to Nicola (Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts) and she provided us with examples of several missing objects, including the two mugs of Mr. Thomas Fazackley and his wife, Captain Metcalf’s Golden Lion Bowl and the plaque depicting the village of Great Crosby. You might think that ceramic objects could not have survived the devastation of the Blitz as they are such fragile pieces. However, while we were digging through the archives we discovered a ceramic survivor!

Nicola (front) and Olivia (behind) looking at the Decorative Art collection's archives

Nicola (front) and Olivia (behind) looking at the Decorative Art collection’s archives

The King of Prussia Jug was originally part of the museum’s ceramic collection. However, the jug disappeared after the ceramics gallery became a bombsite. Interestingly many years later, it re-emerged in an auction house. Museum staff recognised it as the jug lost during the Blitz. Rather than having been destroyed that night, the jug had somehow miraculously survived. It is now once again part of the museum’s collection.

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