Sarah Barr

Writer, poet and teacher

At the Museum

Yesterday after blue sky and sunshine I was caught in hail and a tropical downpour (weather!). I dashed for cover into Priest’s House Museum in the Square in Wimborne. What an interesting collection of second-hand books they now have for sale, in aid of the museum.

Sheltering there reminded me that I often find inspiration for writing in a museum or art gallery. It doesn’t have to be the British Museum or one of the Tate galleries though I love visiting these. It can be your local places. Take your notebook when you visit. Find one thing or one picture that interests you. Describe this in as much detail as you can in note form. Write everything that occurs to you including your own thoughts, feelings and the memories that this thing or picture stirs up. Then you could repeat this process with one more thing/picture. When you get home, see if you can start writing a fictional story or a piece of life-writing or a poem that somehow combines or includes both of the things or pictures that inspired you. For example, you might imagine the person who once used this pewter goblet, ancient sewing machine or wore those amber beads. Perhaps the painting you chose seems to tell a story which you could continue. I hope this exercise opens up some good ideas for your writing.

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