Recollections and collections to combine for Our Seaside Town exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery from May 18

Tim Knight, from Scarborough Museums Trust, on the DePlacido’s Ice Cream tricycle cart , one of the items from the upcoming exhibition Scarborough: Our Seaside Town at Scarborough Art Gallery. All pictures: Tony Bartholomew

SCARBOROUGH Art Gallery’s summertime exhibition will look at life in a seaside town. as seen through the eyes of Scarborough people. 

Curated by Esther Lockwood, Scarborough: Our Seaside Town will run from Tuesday, May 18 to Sunday, September 12.

Esther interviewed team members from Scarborough Museums Trust, asking for their personal views and recollections of life by the sea year-round before selecting items from the trust’s extensive collections.

An early 20th century traditional deckchair from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection

These will include an early 20th century ice cream cart that once operated on Scarborough’s South Bay beach; the East Coast resort’s Pancake Bell, rung to signal the start of the unique tradition of skipping on the seafront on Shrove Tuesday, and other seaside ephemera, paintings, vintage photographs and postcards.

A clifftop diorama will provide the backdrop to a display of seabirds from the trust’s taxidermy collection, complete with smells.

Esther says: “I hope this exhibition will help the collections to be seen afresh through the eyes of the people who work at Scarborough Museums Trust.

Ela Bochenek, documentation assistant at Scarborough Museums Trust, with Bathers In Sunlight, by Zdzislaw Ruszkowski (1978), part of Scarborough Art Gallery’s Scarborough: Our Seaside Town exhibition from May 18.

“Their thoughts and memories are the lens for interpretation, and their voice is prominent, rather than the more traditional curator’s voice, meaning that visitors can enjoy familiar objects in a slightly different way.

“I hope this will spark intergenerational conversation and encourage visitors to share their own reminiscences and recollections of living or visiting Scarborough.”

Exhibition visitors will be encouraged to contribute by sharing stories, memories, photos, videos and more besides on social media, using the hashtag #OurSeasideTown. The posts then will appear on a social media wall in the gallery.

A Scarborough brochure, circa 1950s, from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection

Simon Hedges, head of curation, exhibitions and collections at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “Scarborough: Our Seaside Town is about immersing yourself in a memory, not just the object or image but also the sounds and the smells: a trigger to a different time and place.

“Our recreation of the 1950s’ museum diorama has not only the sound of the nesting birds of Bempton Cliffs, but that very distinctive smell awaits you as well.”

Scarborough Art Gallery has been awarded the VisitEngland We’re Good To Go industry standard mark, signifying adhetence to Government and public health guidance with regard to Covid-19. 

Scarborough Museums Trust operations assistant Charlotte Munday with a clifftop diorama, showing East Coast seabirds, in the Scarborough: Our Seaside Town exhibition

Scarborough: Our Seaside Town will be exhibited on the ground floor and will be fully wheelchair accessible. Visitors for the foreseeable future will be asked to book a slot via the trust’s website at Details will be posted shortly.

Entry to Scarborough Art Gallery is by annual pass at a cost of £3 that gives unlimited entry to both the gallery and the Rotunda Museum for a year. Once the gallery reopens under lockdown easement measures, opening hours will be 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sundays, plus Bank Holidays.

Detail from a 1931 map of Scarborough by Edward Bawden, from the Scarborough Museums Trust collection