Tuesday 24 May 2022

Mysteries at the McLean Museum - What is it?

Here's another Mystery from the McLean Museum in Greenock.  (Part of the Watt Institution, Kelly Street).  Dumped in a case beside Houdin's Clock is this object.  Looks wooden and very decorative, but what on earth is it?  The Museum have not provided a card to say exactly what it is (or anything else in the display).  If you don't know what you are looking at, searching the online Museum catalogue becomes very difficult!

However, as I was looking for information online about another object in the display case, I accidentally came across the information I was looking for.  Does the strange object look a bit familiar now?

It is actually a ceremonial carved wooden mallet presented to Provost Dougald Campbell when he laid the foundation stone of the Municipal Buildings On 6 August 1881.  That took a lot of searching!

This other strange item - had no idea what it was till I got home and was able to enlarge my photographs to read the inscription on it.  (Psychic powers seriously lacking on last week's visit to the McLean!)  It is a ceremonial level and plummet also presented to Provost Dougald Campbell on the 6 August 1881 at the laying of the foundation stone of the Municipal Buildings!  Who knew?  (Well we would have if the exhibit had been labelled.)

In a totally different display case are two other presentation items associated with that auspicious day in Greenock's history.  (Nothing in this display case is labelled and there is no indication as to what anything is.)

These are the ceremonial trowels presented to Provost Campbell on the same day.  One commemorates the laying of the foundation stone at the Municipal Buildings, the other was presented to the Provost at the laying of the foundation stone of the James Watt Dock on the same day.

Wouldn't they tell a wonderful story if they were placed together in the one case with photographs of the Municipal Buildings and the James Watt Dock.  I am sure the Museum has photographs of the ceremonials at the laying of the foundation stones in both places.  6 August 1881 was a big day in Greenock's history and there were lots of processions and celebrations throughout the town. 

The Museum obviously think that these items are worth exhibiting - so why not have them in the same case?  Giving explanations of their origin would perhaps give overseas visitors to the Museum a sense of the pride that Greenockians had (and still have) in their town.  I believe it would also highlight the beautiful Municipal Buildings and Victoria Tower which are such a part of Greenock's skyline.  The James Watt Dock, a marvel of engineering in its day, can also be visited and is now a Marina.  Why not tell their stories?

There are lots of other "Mysteries at the McLean Museum" on this blog.  Just put the word McLean in the search box on the right and you should find them!

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