RAMM continues to add objects and specimens to its permanent collection. Some are historic, documenting the city’s past landscape and people. Others record current biodiversity, new innovation and recent events.
RAMM’s collecting is guided by its Collections Development Policy. This outlines the kind of items the museum seeks to collect and the ethical considerations it adheres to. RAMM reviews this document at least every five years. This ensures collections in RAMM’s care remain relevant and reflect contemporary society.
RAMM would like to thank all the donors, funders and supporters who make it possible to acquire new objects for the collection. Find out how you can support RAMM.
If you would like to donate an object to RAMM please contact us. Please do NOT bring objects to the museum without a prior appointment with a member of the Collections Team.
Browse a selection of RAMM’s acquisitions in 2023, expand the sections below for 2020 – 2022:
The company Selcol was established in 1953 as subsidiary of Selmer Company, a musical instrument manufacturer. Selcol made garden furniture and plastic toys like this periscope. The same year saw Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. This periscope was marketed as a way of seeing over the heads of the huge crowds gathered in London to view the Queen’s procession.
This simple silver ring is inscribed +A+G+L+A+A which probably represents the words, translated from Hebrew: Atha Gebri Leilan Adonai, meaning ‘Thou art mighty forever, O Lord’. The inscription has amuletic significance and was invoked as a charm against fever during the Middle Ages. The use of Hebrew may have been seen as giving the charm extra, almost magical, power.
Charlotte Treadwin designed this lace pattern for a sleeve ruffle. It was published in the supplement to The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.
Gillie Hoyte Byrom hand paints enamels for a world-wide clientele from her studio in Dartington, Devon. She creates portrait miniatures using traditional vitreous enamel skills taught to her in Barcelona in 1990. some are of living people, others take their inspiration from historic artworks.
The original work is a watercolour on vellum, 50mm, at the National Portrait Gallery.
Enamel miniature by Gillie Hoyte Byrom. Original art work: Unique composition of Henry VIII based on the work of Hans Holbein the Younger with particular reference to the full length Preparatory Cartoon for Whitehall (National Portrait Gallery, London); the Thyssen-Bornemisza oil portrait ( Madrid); the Remigius Van Leemput oil portrait (The Royal Collection) and the full length oil portrait (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).
Rings of this period are rare in Britain and very few have this incredible level of decoration. On each corner is cat-like head with large, almost bat-shaped ears. Between each pair of masks there are two intertwined beasts.
Archaeological archives include:
- Hemyock (early medieval ironworking)
- Tiverton (neolithic pottery, lithics and plant remains)
- Butts Road and Higher Ridgeway, Ottery St Mary
- Bow (grooved ware pottery)
- Bull Meadow Park, Exeter
- Old Rydon Lane, Exeter
- High Peak, Sidmouth
- Sidwell Street, Exeter
- Court Lane, Seaton
- Royal Naval Stores Depot, Exeter
- Barton Farm, Burlescombe
- Exe Bridge Retail Park
- South Down Farm, Beer
‘King and Queen’ is an early work of exceptional maturity reflecting Brian Rice’s interest in American Abstract Expressionism and the paintings of Robert Motherwell. Aluminium paint and bold marks in red and black create a balanced work where colour and mood are reminiscent of the Spanish landscape. © Brian Rice
These two studies show Randall-Page’s enduring interest in forms found in nature. They evoke the intricate patterns of the natural world, especially the delicate, curving structures of insect wings. This aquatint was made using a stencil, as part of an exhibition of the artist’s work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2009, while the burnt sienna on paper was made as a study for a temporary installation created for One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London in 2010. They accompany the sculpture Wing acquired by RAMM in 2020.
The wildflowers displayed in ‘The Exeter Florilegium’ were gathered on Shelton’s daily walks during lockdown, with contributions and dedications from NHS staff and the general public. Collected within a mile radius of the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital, these flowers and personal messages convey the shared experiences of many during the spring and summer of 2020.
Commissioned by RAMM and purchased with support from Arts Council England, the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Friends of RAMM and the Kent Kingdon Bequest.
In 2020 RAMM invited Joy Gregory to create new artwork in response to the themes and ideas explored in the exhibition In Plain Sight and the objects on display. The Sweetest Thing is Gregory’s first textile work. It refers directly to the ‘Combesatchfield’ embroidery also in RAMM’s care.
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society with support from Arts Council England and the Friends of RAMM.
On 18 February 2021, four minutes after entering the Martian atmosphere, NASA’s Perseverance lander deployed its parachute made from fabric developed and produced by Heathcoat’s in Tiverton, Devon. The fabric can withstand huge extremes of temperature and still be strong enough to withstand the incredible force of deployment at great speed. A Heathcoat’s engineer described it as ‘the strongest, lightest and most heat resistant parachute fabric ever produced’.
This facemask was made by Tiverton-based Heathcoat Fabrics, using a special antiviral fabric developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although face coverings have been used for centuries, this design was first used as a public health measure during the 1918 Influenza pandemic.
On 3 September 2021 RAMM’s Natural Sciences Curator spotted a female wasp spider in the long grass by the museum’s off site store. This was the first year the grass had been allowed to grow long. By the 9 September she had laid this egg sac. The following week she was gone. In May 2022, once certain the eggs had hatched, the sac was added to RAMM’s collection. This object is not on display.
In 2022 RAMM returned ceremonial regalia belonging to Chief Crowfoot, an important late nineteenth-century Blackfoot leader to the Siksika Nation. At the handover, ceremonial elder Herman Yellow Old Woman gave a set of his own regalia to the museum. He tanned the hide and did all the beadwork himself. He wishes that it ‘remain at the museum forever’.
A collection of fossilised and dried specimens made by echinoderm expert Professor David Nichols. A few, like those pictured here, show unusual growth patterns. Some years ago David donated his research library to RAMM. He also wrote a very detailed biography of Percy Sladen – a Victorian scientist who shared his love of this fascinating group of marine animals.
RAMM volunteer Carol McFadzean made this quilt during the Covid pandemic. Carol’s quilting group were given the challenge to make something on the theme of ‘letters’. This quilt represents the healing heart of the NHS, the balance between life and death and the tears shed during 2020
A growing range of tooth powders and toothpastes began to be commercially available in the mid-1800s. Chemists would often develop their own toothpaste recipe and use ceramic pots like this one to advertise their products. This toothpaste sold by a Plymouth-based chemist was made using areca nuts, which are now known to cause cancer.
Two donations of material relating to the ‘Exeter Hip’. One of the most common surgical procedures today is a hip replacement. This operation replaces a damaged hip joint with an artificial one. Orthopaedic surgeon Professor Robin Ling and engineer Professor Clive Lee took a revolutionary collaborative approach to designing a new implant. Known around the world as the Exeter hip it is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in replacement hip stems.
A decorative mount from a scabbard. It is made from gilded silver and the square recess at the point of the pyramid would originally have held a gem or piece of glass. These mounts date from the early-medieval period, probably 6th or 7th centuries, and are found across England and Europe. Really decorative examples were found at Sutton Hoo.
Lead cloth seals were attached to bales of cloth as part of the regulation and taxation of the cloth industry. This example is unusual as it was originally gilded (gold-plated). The Royal arms and gilding suggests that this seal was used to mark a particularly important type of cloth.
In 2020 Exeter artist LP Edits was invited to paint a mural for the Nightingale Hospital Exeter, which had recently opened to provide increased bed capacity for the RD&E during the COVID-19 pandemic. He created this version on paper especially for RAMM. © LP Edits
Cyrus Austin won this silver plated hip flask during a Whist Drive at Barnfield Hall, Exeter in January 1918. Cyrus was an American serviceman, who served in the Canadian army during the First World War. While serving with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in France he became ill with nephritis (kidney problems) and being invalided to No 5 Hospital in Exeter to recuperate. He was in Exeter from December 1917 to January 1918, he then spent time at several other military hospitals in England before returning to Canada and being discharged due to ill health. His full military medical record is digitised and available online. This object is not on display.
In 2022 RAMM commissioned Warren Elsmore to create several models of Exeter scenes using LEGO® bricks for the exhibition ‘Brick by Brick: A LEGO Brick History of Exeter.’ The model of RAMM is now part of the museum’s permanent collection. It is made of 41,236 individual bricks.
Archaeological archives include sites at the following locations:
- North Hall, Widecombe-in-the-Moor
- Maunders Row, Otterton
- Buckfast Abbey
- Cullompton (prehistoric pottery)
- Bovey Tracey
- Sampford Peverell
- Treasbeare Farm, Cranbrook
- Bridgetown, Totnes
This work shows the continuation of Brian Rice’s awakened interest in archaeology and associated imagery with motifs inspired by rock art. This interest first presented itself with his print ‘Mazefield’ of the same year. ‘The King’s Tomb’ explores universal abstract patterns found in prehistoric rock engravings.
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic there was a global shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and medical disinfectants. Many manufacturers adapted their factories to try and meet this shortfall. This hand sanitiser was produced by Exeter Gin.
Sir Eric Dancer KCVO CBE KStJ wore this uniform while serving Queen Elizabeth II from 1998 until his retirement in 2015. A Lord-Lieutenant is the British monarch’s personal representative in each area of the United Kingdom
RAMM also accepted archaeological archives for sites at Newcourt Drive, Cranbrook, Thorverton, Paul Street in Exeter, Crown Land Axminster, Hayes Farm and St Sidwell’s Point.
Devon lace teachers and their students made a new piece of lace for the 2020 exhibition ‘By Royal Appointment’. Inspired by an old lace design and an historic style of Devon lace the piece, named ‘Exeter Chromatic’, brings RAMM’s extensive lace collection into the 21st century.
This brass finial was mistakenly collected as an example of a Friendly Society pole head. Friendly Societies were 19th and early 20th century cooperative organisations to support rural workers. In some ways they were proto-trade unions but they also adopted semi-masonic symbols to create a sense of identity.
Fridays for Future Exeter created this banner. Part of the wider global youth movement started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, this group of young people local to Exeter grew from January 2019. Their work centres on organising monthly strikes in Exeter, raising awareness of the escalating climate crisis, and encouraging urgent action from local organisations.
These plaques would have hung in the Devon and Exeter Hospital, they give an insight into the strict admission procedures for hospital patients in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was common for patients to only be admitted if they came to the hospital on a specific day or had a recommendation from a hospital governor or senior member of staff.
RAMM also accepted archaeological archives from sites at Frog Street in Exeter, Ashford Road and Exeter Road in Topsham, Pin Brook, Winham Farm Solar Park in Cullompton, Meadow View Nursery in Honiton, Challabrook in Bovey Tracey and Exeter’s Flood Defence Scheme.