Thursday, October 10, 2019

Celebrating Black History Month 2019

October is Black History Month in the UK and at The Higgins Bedford we're celebrating and commemorating the history, culture and achievements of black people with a series of events, talks, discussions and workshops. 


On Sunday 13th October, there will be a panel discussion exploring mixed race identity in Bedford. Michelle Balach-Ali will present the fascinating results of her recent study that showed mixed race people are competent ‘cultural negotiators’, equipped with the resilience to withstand various forms of racial abuse. Michelle will be joined by panel members Pauline Stepney, Warren Temple and Angela Lowell as they ask the audience to consider their own position regarding mixed race identity in Bedford. This panel discussion  starts at 2:30pm - 4pm, is free to attend and must be booked in advance. 

To book your place, please use our online booking system or visit Bedford Central Box Office at 27 Harpur Street, Bedford or telephone 01234 718044.

We'll be celebrating the music that has inspired Bedford’s African and Caribbean community on Saturday 26th October. Take part in musical workshops and browse stalls. Enjoy topical talks exploring the history of different musical styles and music's impact on identity and wellbeing. This will run from 11am - 4pm and is free entry but prices will vary for workshops.

Working in partnership with Power in Discussion.

Keep an eye on the developing programme of events on our website.

Just after Black History Month there will be a talk by Lucy Bland, Professor of Social and Cultural History at Anglia Ruskin University, on Saturday 9th November exploring the history of wartime children born to black GIs and British women. Many suffered racism as well as the stigma of illegitimacy. Now in their 70s, many have told their stories which have been captured in Lucy’s recently published book and will be shared in this talk. Starting at 2:30pm- 3:30pm, this talk costs £5.90, £4.70 for concessions and booking is essential. 

To book your place, please use our online booking system or visit Bedford Central Box Office at 27 Harpur Street, Bedford or telephone 01234 718044.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Exhibitions Closing 29th September

The Round and Round the Garden and The Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks exhibitions will soon be coming to a close and shouldn't be missed! With displays of art works from the internationally renowned Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and incredible stories from local people, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Celebrate all things gardens and gardening in art. Explore our human fascination with them and how they have provided inspiration for artists including Pre-Raphaelite John Everett Millais, Walter Sickert and Joan Eardley. Features 'The Wynding Wixam Tree', a sensory installation with various objects in burrows, nests and hanging from branches.

Here's what some of our visitors have said:

"Thoroughly enjoyed the garden exhibition. Children were enchanted by the tree".

"Incredibly good! We would travel anywhere in the UK to find an exhibition of this quality".

"Wonderfully varied. We have enjoyed seeing so many different artists and styles". 

"This was amazing to look at. I really admire the aesthetic art and tree design. It makes me want to come here everyday. 

Working in collaboration with Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University and Andy Lawrence from the Theatre of Widdershins.

© The Mutual Security Agency 

Explore the journey of pride, inspiration and hope made by John Bunyan, alongside the difficult journeys made to Bedford by those who came to work at the Brickworks after the Second World War. Includes a large 'stained-glass' effect window, and films, recordings and objects collected from the community.

Here's what some of our visitors have said:

"Another great exhibition. Important and really interesting stories".

"A fascinating exhibition and particularly meaningful at the present time. The immigrant workers who came to Bedford have enriched it so much".

"When my husband was courting me, he presented me with occasional bricks with personal messages that he carved into the green brick before it went into the kiln. I still keep two on my dressing table".

"The Brickworks exhibition very interesting. I found the film moving - especially the way in which immigration was vital to the industry. It made me re-think some of my views on immigration".

This is a collaborative National Lottery Heritage funded project between John Bunyan Museum & Library, The Bedford Chronicles, SHARE Museums East, Invisible Folk Club and Greensand Country Festival.

© The Mutual Security Agency 
It’s A Hole, A Big Big Hole - The Extraction Industry and the Bedfordshire Landscape by Brian Kerr
Wednesday 18th September, 2pm
£5.90, £4.70 for concessions - Booking essential

Join Brian Kerr, author of 'A Certain Degree of Magnificence: People in the Bedfordshire Landscape', for the last of our brickworks-related talks and explore how the extraction industries have influenced Bedfordshire's development. 

To book your place, email thehiggins@bedford.gov.uk or telephone 01234 718618. 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Platyfacts - How to Pamper a Platypus


If they are to stay in good condition, our objects need constant monitoring and care. Sometimes, therapeutic conservation work is required – and that is a skilled and complex job.

Kevin the Platypus gets some much-needed beauty treatment.
A busy life in a museum will leave even the best groomed platypus feeling a little less than spruce. So Kevin got some professional care from Melinda, a conservation specialist.

She hoovered him (yes, really!) with a special museum hoover, and gave him a careful clean all over.

A dust-removing pedicure made a world of difference, and after a bit of careful work with a cotton bud the twinkle is back in his eye!

Come and see our pampered platypus in The Collectors gallery.

Check back soon for our next Platyfact.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Summer Holiday Activities 2019

Visit The Higgins Bedford throughout the summer holidays and enjoy activities and workshops for both children aged 5 and above and teenagers aged 12 to 16 years old.

Places are limited and should be booked in advance by purchasing a ticket at The Higgins Bedford reception desk. We are currently unable to take bookings online or over the phone. Unfilled places will be offered on a first-come, first served basis on the day.

Stories from the Wynding Wixam Tree
Every Wednesday 24th July - 28th August
11am & 2pm, £5 per child (free for accompanying adults)

Step into the world of spectacular stories performed by the Theatre of Widdershins. Gather at the Wynding Wixam Tree in the Round and Round the Garden exhibition, and join in fantastical adventures and traditional fairy tales that are guaranteed to captivate families. Different stories are performed each week including, The Princess & The Pea, Granny Dumpling and The King with Stinky Feet.



Teen Creativity Workshops
Every Wednesday 24th July - 28th August
12:30pm, £3 per person (no parents required)

Enjoy creative writing and arts and crafts workshops for teenagers aged 12 to 16 years old. Teens will be able to meet local artists Lisa Tilley and Kemi Onabuleand, professional author Derek Niemann and Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University and have the opportunity to explore different art and media styles and gain insights into the professional arts world.


Sponsored by Oxford Brookes University


Horrible Higgins Histories
Every Friday 26th July - 30th August
11am, 12:30pm & 2pm, £3 per child (free for accompanying adults)

Travel through time and space with Kevin the Platypus, explore the museum’s collections and get creative in horribly historical creative workshops. From Stone Age to Space Age, there is sure to be an activity to delight families. Design and make Stone Age necklaces, Viking brooches, Victorian hats, moon rockets with Little Science Labs and more.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Talks & Tours Coming Soon...



© The Mutual Security Agency
Thursday 18th July, 2:30pm
£5.90, (£4.70 Concessions)

As part of the exhibition, The Journey from Bunyan to the Brickworks, join author of ‘Brickmaking: A History and Gazeteer (Survey of Bedfordshire)’, Alan Cox, as he discusses the development of the brickmaking industries and the impact they have made in Bedfordshire.

Cecil Higgins Anniversary Tours
Thursday 25th July, 11.30am & 2pm
£5.90 (£4.70 Concessions)

Explore the internationally renowned Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection and celebrate 70 years since it first opened to the public.

What makes this collection so special is that, unlike other benefactors who have supported institutions with a lifetime of collecting, Cecil Higgins collected with the specific intention of opening a museum.

With mesmerising works by Picasso, JMW Turner and Edward Bawden, amazing pieces by William Burges and William Morris and porcelain by Meissen and Chelsea, this is a unique opportunity to find out more about Bedford’s benefactor, Cecil Higgins, and the wonderful collection he gave to his town.


Garden Tours - Transforming the Gardens at The Higgins Bedford 
Thursday 25th July
11:15am, Free

Explore the Castle Gardens in a free, half an hour tour, discover the history of the grounds and find out more about the volunteer-led project to rejuvenate the gardens.

Supported by SDC Community Fund, established by SDC Builders Ltd



Booking is essential for these talks and tours. To book your place, please telephone 01234 718618 or email thehiggins@bedford.gov.uk. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Platyfacts - Kevin... or Keeva?

How do we know that Kevin is a Kevin and not a Keeva or a Keeley?  

Have a careful look, and you might see that on the heel of his hind foot is a spur. The males have a spur about 15mm long, and it’s connected to a poison gland. This is one of very few mammals that is poisonous. 

They use the spur when they are fighting other males for the right to breed and they are most venomous in the breeding season. 

It wouldn’t kill you if one stabbed you, but it would be horribly painful. Females don’t develop them.

Check back next month for our next Platyfact.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Summer Gardening Events

Your Garden Questions Answered & Plant Sale
Sunday 30th June, Free
Plant Sale: 2pm - 4.30pm
Your Garden Questions Answered: 2:30pm - 3:30pm

Run by The Higgins garden volunteers, enjoy a summer plant sale that is guaranteed to delight visitors. Bring in all your gardening questions to our expert panel in an informal gardener's question time with Jane Perrone and Kathy and Simon Brown. Be inspired and pick up practical tips to achieve your ideal garden this summer. 

You can also send in your Garden Questions for the panel to answer by emailing Victoria.Partridge@bedford.gov.uk. The answers will be posted on social media at a later date. 

Funds raised from the plant sale will help to improve the Castle Gardens and support the continuing work of garden volunteers.

Garden Tours - Transforming the Gardens at The Higgins Bedford
Wednesday 3rd July, 11:15am
Free - Booking Essential

Explore the Castle Gardens in a free, half an hour tour and discover more about the volunteer-led project to rejuvenate the gardens and grounds. 

Supported by SDC Community Fund, established by SDC Builders Ltd


Edward Bawden at his Saffron Walden home sitting on a
Bilston Cast Iron Garden Seat, 1980
Lunchtime Lecture: Edward Bawden – Art and Gardening
Thursday 4th July, 12pm - 12:30pm, 
£3 (Concessions £2.50) - Booking Essential

Join Keeper of Fine and Decorative Art, Victoria Partridge, for a lunchtime lecture exploring Edward Bawden’s favourite gardens.






Booking is essential for the garden tour and Edward Bawden lunchtime lecture. To book your place, please telephone 01234 718618 or email thehiggins@bedford.gov.uk 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Family Fun this Weekend!

There's lots to do this weekend! Don't miss out on all the great events happening for all the family to enjoy. 

This Noisy Isle
Saturday 22nd June
Performances from 10am - 3pm
Adults: £8 / Child: £6

Get involved in This Noisy Isle, an outdoor treasure-hunt style performance for 7-11 year olds and their families, inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This interactive adventure explores the refugee crisis in a new and inventive way and gives viewers the chance to solve puzzles, meet mysterious characters, navigate the choppy seas and more.

Book Tickets Here.

Working in Collaboration with Spun Glass Theatre and The Place Theatre.

Windrush Family Day & Global Kitchen
Saturday 22nd June
12pm - 5pm, Free Entry
Held at A Different Brew Cafe

Celebrate National Windrush Day and Bedford's Windrush Generation with a day of face painting, music, folk songs, dancing, dominoes, food and Windrush stories.

Working in Collaboration with Arise In Bloom, Nubian Teachings, Friends Of Refugees, Urban Adventures (Natures Gifts), Bedfordshire Opportunities for Learning Disabilities (B.O.L.D)Retired Caribbean Nurses of Bedfordshire (RCNA).


Round and Round the Garden Family Afternoon
Sunday 23rd June
2pm - 5pm, Free Entry

Enjoy an afternoon of garden themed activities for families, view the Round and Round the Garden exhibition and discover the Book Nook and Wynding Wixam Tree. Explore with Kevin the Platypus on his new trail. Take part in art and crafts workshops including Scratch Art, Drop-in Floating Flowers and Seed Bombs with Jane Perrone.

Places are limited for Seed Bomb workshops. To book, tel 01234 718618 / e-mail thehiggins@bedford.gov.uk.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Celebrating Refugee Week 2019

Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees in the UK and encourages an improved understanding between communities.

Discover stories of displacement, explore the lives of refugees and the people who welcomed them throughout the generations, based on this year’s theme – You, Me and Those Who Came Before.

Refugee Week Launch
Saturday 15th June
11am – 4pm, Free


Celebrate the beginning of Refugee Week with live music, talks, poetry, creative workshops and stalls.



The 25th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide Against the Tutsi
Saturday 15th June
2pm - 5:30pm, Free

Hear stories at the Urumuri commemoration for the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi.

Explore Kwibuka Rwanda – Remebering Rwanda, an exhibition developed by Dr Julia Viebach and Pitt Rivers Museum that looks at the memorials marking the sites where the genocide took place.

Working in collaboration with URUMURI Association

Knit-a-thon
Tuesday 18th June
11am – 4pm, Free

Get creative and meet other like-minded crafters to knit and crochet items such as hats, socks, gloves, and blankets for refugees across the globe. All items will be distributed by UK charity Knit for Peace.

To register interest or to support the event with some knitting to be delivered, please email gemma.hutton@bedford.gov.uk.


Pop-up Museum #You, me and those who came before
Wednesday 19th June
11am – 3pm, Free
Bedford Central Library

Bring the stories and objects that you, your parents and grandparents have brought with them from their home countries to share and celebrate at this Pop-Up Museum.

What favourite things did you, your parents or grandparents, bring with them to start life in the UK?

This Noisy Isle
Saturday 22nd June
Perfromances from 10am - 3pm
Adult: £8 / Child £6

Inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, enjoy This Noisy Isle, an outdoor treasure-hunt style performance for 7 to 11 year olds and their families.

This interactive adventure explores the refugee crisis in a new and inventive way and gives viewers the chance to solve puzzles, meet mysterious characters, navigate the choppy seas and more.

Each performance is limited to 16 patrons - Book Tickets Here.

Working in Collaboration with Spun Glass Theatre and The Place Bedford.

Windrush Family Day & Global Kitchen
Saturday 22nd June
12pm - 5pm, Free Entry

Celebrate National Windrush Day and Bedford's Windrush Generation with a day of face painting, music, folk songs, dancing, dominoes, food and Windrush stories.

Working in Collaboration with Arise In Bloom, Nubian TeachingsFriends Of RefugeesUrban Adventures (Natures Gifts)Bedfordshire Opportunities for Learning Disabilities (B.O.L.D)Retired Caribbean Nurses of Bedfordshire (RCNA)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Platyfacts - Meet Kevin


Meet Kevin - he’s a duck-billed platypus. At the Higgins Bedford, Kevin is a much loved part of the collections. Platypuses are a bit special as there isn’t any living animal that’s very much like them at all. 

Every now and then we'll post a fascinating fact about platypuses like Kevin. Read on for our very first platyfact.

What’s in a name?


‘Platypus’ comes from a scientific name that’s not in use any more, meaning ‘flat-footed’ and 'duck-like’. The scientific name is now Ornithorhynchus anatinus, which means ‘bird-snouted duck-like’. The plural of platypus is ‘platypuses’ or ‘platypodes’. Technically it’s wrong to say 'platypi', because the name platypus is of Greek origin, not Latin.

And just for the record, there’s no formally agreed name for the babies. Some people call them ‘puggles’ but that was originally the name given to baby echidnas. Other people call them ‘platypups’. Either way they’re very cute…

Check back soon for our next platyfact.