Braintree Museum reopens, with exhibition about The Courtaulds

Braintree Museum

Braintree Museum - Credit: Braintree Museum

Braintree Museum has reopened - with an exhibition exploring the Courtauld family’s history and the story of artificial silk.

The exhibition called The Courtaulds: Origins, Innovations and Family 1816- 1982 has been extended to 2021.

In partnership with The Courtauld Gallery in London, the exhibition explores the family’s history and the story of their development of artificial silk created in their first factory in Braintree, the family’s influence and their local and global legacy.

Rare original woodblock prints by Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin are among the highlights on display in the exhibition which document the life and legacy of the Courtauld family.

Samuel Courtauld opened his first mill in Bocking in 1816 and created innovative, unique, black mourning crepe with his brother George, made fashionable by Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert.

The company expanded rapidly, opening mills in Braintree and Halstead.

The company’s success, both locally and internationally, allowed Samuel Courtauld to collect Impressionist art in the early 19th century. Courtauld went on to establish The Courtauld in 1932, with Sir Robert Witt and Viscount Lee of Fareham.

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The exhibition unveils stories of family members who became war heroes, local politicians, suffragettes, World War One doctors and Arctic explorers.

Visitors can explore artefacts that illuminate the Courtauld family’s history – including a suffragette poster designed by Catherine Courtauld, from the Women’s Library, London; the remains from Augustin Courtauld’s Arctic flag from the Scott Polar Institute, all complimented with loans from the Courtauld Family’s Private Collection shown alongside the Museum’s artefacts for the first time.

Sheila Charrington, chairman of Braintree District Museum Trust, said: “Visitors are our lifeblood, and we have missed them greatly.

“We are thrilled that we have been able to extend the Courtauld exhibition and are able to tell the many fascinating stories behind the famous Courtauld name that will come to life in the exhibition.

“We are grateful to all our partner organisations and collaborators who have made this extension possible.”

The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Visitors must book a free ticket in advance through the Braintree Museum website and wear a face covering inside the building.

See the museum’s website for full details.