Grant Scheme

Tru Vue Conservation & Exhibition Grant Scheme

Award Year


Icon Accredited Conservator



A funeral bier is a stand on which a corpse or a coffin containing a corpse is placed before burial. Having this object on display includes the surrounding villages in the social history story told by the museum as the object comes from Southwick and North Bradley. This helps instill a greater sense of community and togetherness. We hope to be able to share the story of the bier in a way that ensures it’s preservation. Community spirit showing the villages are just as much a part of the story as Trowbridge and the Mills. 


Conservation and display challenges


The Funeral Bier is a large object (over 2.3m long, over 0.5m wide and over 1m tall) and this poses an issue with storing it in our storeroom. With the object on display, we create more space in our store to accept new objects that might otherwise be disposed of by possible donors. The size and shape of the object creates issues with having it on open display.

With its large flat top visitors are prone to putting their bags or, in some cases, even their small children on it which has the potential to damage the bier. There is a handle that runs the length of the object, which children can potentially swing on and break, damaging the bier and possibly injuring themselves as well.

With the use of clear acrylic barriers we can ensure the public cannot accidently damage the object whilst still having it clearly visible to allow it’s story to be told. Having these barriers in place will go a long way to mitigate any damage to the bier from handling and interference by the general public. It will also allow regular visual inspection of the bier by the museum staff to ensure there is no damage to the bier and to allow easy access to clean the object.


How was the grant used to address these challenges?


The Collections and Exhibitions Officer, Museum Assistant and Learning and Outreach officer were all involved in the project. The grant and supplies allowed us to get the funeral bier back on display for the public to enjoy after the damage that was caused previous had been rectified. The barriers were attached to the existing plinth at one end and movable barriers at the other end.

We were able to cut one sheet in half to make the barrier shorter and less obtrusive. This allows visitors to experience the illusion of there being no barrier there while also preventing the object from being interfered with. The second sheet of acrylic will be used to protect two further objects – a wooden model of the local parish church whish, like the funeral bier, is often at risk of being damaged by the public, and a shop unit display that has had several draws damaged by enthusiastic children. 

The Tru Vue Acrylic is strong yet flexible. Our site is in an old mill building and it is listed so getting things on site can be very difficult. The flexibility of the sheets meant we were able to get them up the narrow stairs more easily. The acrylic is also clear and strong so makes a perfect invisible barrier. It is light enough that we were able to fix it to our existing unit without the necessity of drilling holes – we were able to use a high strength nano glue to hold the barrier in place.  


What are the outcomes of the project?

The use of the barriers has meant we were able to get the object out of storage and on display in one piece after having to be stored away in pieces after receiving damage from the public. We have just had our first school holidays since the barriers were put up. Usually during the holidays we would expect to have to be out on the gallery discouraging children from climbing on to the bier. Since the barriers were put up the object has received no damage and no children have been found to be climbing on the object. 

We will also be using the project to raise awareness with our visitors the importance of appropriate protections for objects and explain why we need to strike a balance between having objects on display to share their story and teach their history and protecting the object from unintended damage. 

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