NORFOLK Museums Service
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Exhibitions at Lynn Museum

Lynn Museum has a changing programme of exciting temporary exhibitions.

Art of the Mart
Savage’s, Famous Fairground Makers of Lynn

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This exhibition looks at the art, craft and design of King’s Lynn’s funfair, known as ‘the Mart’. The Mart opens each year on Valentine’s Day, traditionally the first of the fairs in the Showmen’s year. King’s Lynn was famous in Victorian times as the home of creators of steam-powered merry-go-rounds, Savage’s Ltd.

The museum holds an important archive of material from Savage’s and some of the patterns and drawings will be on display in the museum for the first time. The exhibition features a large working drawing in chalk of a galloping cockerel, conserved by Yuki Russell at the Norfolk Record Office with support from a grant from the Friends of King’s Lynn Museums.

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The galloping cockerel drawing may have been inspiration for making the full size fairground cockerel from the 1920s that forms part of the Museum’s permanent displays about the town’s fairground heritage. The brilliantly coloured cockerel is joined by an equally colourful carved ostrich. A portrait in oils of Frederick Savage, the great fairground entrepreneur looks over the exhibition. We hope it is with approval!

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Mr Savage is not wearing a hat in his portrait but the museum team has taken the opportunity to bring out a selection of hats that might have been worn by fairground revellers. Also on display is a large carved wooden cat head, a prototype for a Jumping Cats ride. One part of the display includes a model, copies of engineering drawings and some wooden patterns for a ride known as Sea on Land, a boat merry-go-round with boats lurching around a track simulating a trip on a wavy sea. Sea on Land was a very popular ride in the early years of the 20th century; one of the owners of this ride made so much money he had a terrace of houses built which he called Sea on Land Terrace.

A section of the exhibition looks at the Victorian travelling menageries with copies of posters from the museum collections, one featuring the ‘Wild Hare of the Forest’. A taxidermy specimen of a hare is displayed alongside. The Menageries that visited King’s Lynn gave local artist Henry Baines some excellent models for his sketching talents and several images such as Wallace the Lion are reproduced. There is also a slideshow of photographs of fairground rides from the Museum’s archives for you to enjoy.

To bring the story up to date, we have photographs of the Mart today complete with a modern Galloper, known appropriately as ‘The Mart’ and the bell used to announce the opening of the Mart. The grand opening of the Mart is a great civic occasion in the town with the plenty of mayoral chains and regalia on show. Once the opening speeches are made the officials take a turn on the dodgems.

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We hope you enjoy Art of the Mart. Please let us know any comments you may have tweeting us using #MARTART.

Exhibition free with museum admission. Click here for details.

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Did not realise there was such a great museum on our doorstep. Brilliant!