Includes interesting stories from the world of leather and updates on the Museum. Issued periodically.
The Museum of Leathercraft (MoL) was founded in 1946 by John Waterer R.D.I and Dr Claude Spiers. John Waterer was a designer of leather goods and historian of the trade. Claude Spiers was a leather chemist and senior lecturer in leather technology at the National Leathersellers’ College in London. Their ambition was to build a collection of articles made of leather and an associated reference library of books, making these available to all those who could be interested.
The founders were remarkably successful and in time built a collection of over 5000 items with examples of leatherwork across history and cultures, from Europe and the rest of the world. In 1951 the MoL became a Charitable Company and was recognised as a fully Registered Museum on 6th July 1999. The Museum was fully re-accredited by the MLA in January 2008.
The current situation arises from an agreement in 1977 with Northampton Borough Council in the UK. In a well-intentioned arrangement the Trustees agreed to a 50-year loan agreement in which Northampton Borough Council would display, store and curate the collection with the full involvement of well-qualified staff.
Following the death of both our founders in 1977, the Waterer-Spiers Collection was set up to celebrate and uphold their memory.
In 2000 the MoL acquired the ‘Kite’ collection. The Kite Collection has been put together by its namesake Ms Marion Kite – Head of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion, Victoria and Albert Museum. It comprises over 300 items of clothing and jewellery and forms the largest and arguably the most significant collection of historic fur garments in the western world.
In 2007, the relationship with the Northampton Borough Council (NBC) solidified into one of close partnership, with the result that a further agreement was made to house the whole collection at Abington Park Museum under a 5-year contract. A selection of items are displayed at the Museum which is open to the public (under restricted hours) from April to October each year.
In May 2013 the trustees of MoL were successful in a grant application ‘Museum of Leathercraft Goes Public’ joint funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Company of Leathersellers’. The project secured funding for a full time Collections and Engagement Officer over four years and an appointment was made in May 2014.
In 2013 MoL took the decision to activate the break clause in their further agreement with NBC.
In 2014 NBC announced its intention to invest significantly in its Museums services with a vision to establish a ‘Cultural Quarter’ in the heart of Northampton town centre and as a consequence Mol would be required to find alternative premises for its collection.
In 2015 the trustees decided in recognition of the international scope of the collection and as a statement of intent to foster interest around the world the museum should be renamed the International Museum of Leather Craft (IMOLC). This is subject to an agreement with the Arts Council England in early 2016.
In 2016 it is planned that IMOLC will be relocated in Northampton permitting significant expansion.