Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Royal Gunpowder Mills (Victorian Christmas Experience) - 21 December



Sunday: Last show of the year and here we are on Shortest Day…and the weather was fine. Out on the lawn the fallow deer were ambling about and above us a great spotted woodpecker called, possibly by way of encouragement to get our museum into the WWI Room. This is a very cosy, and warm, room with plenty of space for the exhibits. Today we set up the Grymm Tooms Picture Company and Grymm’s World of Wonders.

Paul and Debbie from French Living History turned up rather early and we introduced them to our new exhibit; the tapeworm, this is a proto-type with room for improvement. One of my visitors was an Australian lady who had seen plenty of wild duck-moles, this event is the only place where I have met two ladies who have seen or worked with the platypus. We had a great chat about my platypus and some of its oddities such as the rather small tail; platypus tails vary according to fat storage, since mine had to look like an old mounted specimen, the tail is about the same length as the head, again based on specimens and old paintings. If you look at some old paintings you will notice that the ‘beak’ bone structure is visible, this is because the artist was working from a dead, and no doubt rather dry, specimen.

One girl was somewhat put off by some of my exhibits, the glaring eyes of the non-descript seem to have particularly un-nerved her. She was OK after a few minutes and her curiosity got the better of her. As it turned out she was especially interested in the stereoscope and while I chatted to her father she seems to have gone through our entire collection of stereoscopic photos.

We had plenty of visitors throughout the day but were rarely inundated and I even had time to sneak out and have lunch. Our last visitor was a young lady who certainly knew her critters and had worked with quite a few, including the Virginia opossum. This is the critter that uses playing dead as a mode of defence; this act involves exuding a vile smell and horrid green anal fluid. I once had the ‘interesting experience’ of a garter snake evacuating itself on me; the smell took ages to get rid off.

Liz brought her niece Kerry to see us; when she told me that she was studying psychology I wondered if GTTM would become part of her study! Well, it was time to go, we packed, said goodbye to Brian, Liz, Kerry and Anna and headed off into the Solstice darkness.

So Season Three comes to a close, it has been a particularly hard one for us, the elements have not been kind and it has been great to finish off not only warm and in doors but also with good weather. Aside from the climate it has been a very successful season with exciting new venues and friends.

As for the museum, well, it has occurred to us that we are no longer re-enacting a Victorian Museum – we are a real museum! I have never tried counting my exhibits but it is lots and I am always on the lookout for new specimens to buy or make. The Grymm Tooms Picture Co. has grown rapidly over the last year and is the most authentic of our exhibits, Medical Marvels is undergoing a transformation for next year and Grymm’s World of Wonders just keeps on growing with new projects forming even as I write.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped us this year, the friends that we have made since we started and all those visitors eager for knowledge - long may they ask “What’s that then?”

Prof Grymm