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Tree Dressing at Penrith and Eden Museum

The Penrith and Eden Museum building, Robinson’s School in Middlegate, became 350 years old in Penrith Museum tree dressing2020 and the Museum’s tree dressing project has celebrated this milestone in its history. It also reminds us how the tree outside the Museum and Tourist Information building which is now showing off this colourful art work has survived many generations and has become an historical and environmental feature in its own right.

Artist Karen MacDougall created the project working with Penrith and Eden Museum curators Sydney Chapman and Rebecca Short and all three classes of Year 5 Beaconside Primary School and their teaching staff. This was quite a challenge because of Covid 19 and all the ‘bubbling’ arrangements in place. This meant ‘Zooming’ into the classrooms, leading workshops (remotely) about the museum and its collections, drawing artefacts and then showing the pupils how to make chosen motifs into felted sheep’s wool when none of them had made felt before.  

Penrith Museum tree dressingAll designs were then assembled to make ‘belts’ for the tree and re-created the museum doorway inscription design onto one of them. The wrestling belts that inspired the idea were those of William Jameson who was Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling’s World Champion in Victorian times. Some of his prize belts are on display in the museum.