Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Wycombe Museum 5th December 2010



Taking the recent heavy snow into account Dr Tooms and myself set out early, but the thaw had come in earnest and the roads were clear as we headed for Wycombe. We got to the Wycombe Museum by 11:00 where we met Carol who showed us where we would be setting up, this also gave us the opportunity to look around this quant little museum. I was in a room full of chairs, it never ceases to amaze me what ends up in collections – trust me, and I’ve seen a few! The item that really got my attention was a beautifully carved wooden chair that had been shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition, when Carol told me that I could use one of the chairs for visitors, she added, “Just not that one!”

Dr Tooms was set up next to an exhibit of what looked like a 1950’s living room which included a chair that only a James Bond villain could love and a set of flying ducks. I have never quite understood the significance of the three flying ducks, usually mallard; perhaps they represent the Graces or a link to our hunter-gather past or are just a reminder that duck is still an expensive luxury.

There was an interesting photo display of chair arches, those strange alien structures of symmetrical chair stacking similar to that witnessed at Broadlands…how extra-ordinary! The photos of the Victorian structures are amazing, the modern one shows that Health & Safety policies override artistry as there seems to be more scaffolding than chairs.

My display was set up next to an exhibit about bodgers, those odd, forest dwelling folk who made chair legs from green wood for the furniture industry. The display included a shave horse and a polelathe.

This was to be quite a short show for us, 2pm until 5pm and as we waited the day turned into a lovely winter’s day, the low sun bright enough the scare any self-respecting vampire back into its lair.

We were not sure what to expect really but as visitors started to arrive we found that we were kept pretty busy. While I don’t think that we spoke to the 200 odd people who drifted through we met some lovely folks who were fun to talk to. I met a young lad who had never heard of a platypus and by the time I had finished he was able to tell his mum that the male platypus has poison spurs.

I met a family from far away, when I heard the mother speak I thought that I should have known what language she was speaking, it was like nothing I have ever heard, when I inquired where they were from she told me that they were from Finland. I asked if there was anything that the kids wanted to look at. They chose, like so many before them, the mermaid. I then spent 10 minutes telling a story about sirens luring unsuspecting sailors on to rocky shores by singing and them eating the poor ship wrecked survivors; all this was translated by the mum from English to epic sounding Finnish…cool!

I finished the day with a very nice gent called Peter who was interested in the making of the exhibits as well as collections in general; which brings me to a young lad who has a very odd collection to say the least – he collects insect heads, his prize being the head of a stag beetle he found dead in his garden. My generally odd way of looking at things could not help bring up an image of a doll’s house with a little trophy hall lined with bug heads peering down on dining doll guests…as I said, it never ceases to amaze me what ends up in collections.

This is Prof Grymm amongst the Bug Head Hunters of Borneo.