what will the museum of the future be like?
I recently emailed as many outdoor museums as I could find, using a directory and a web-based list. I received about three replies.
I am concerned about the lack of support for British rare breeds of farm animal. Many outdoor museums have plenty of space for grazing animals and potentially plenty of volunteers to help to look after them. At the same time there is a need to train more teamsters. Not all the responses that I received were negative, however and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust sent me a very good article on the hackney horse. The National Trust is also doing good things with several rare breeds including Herdwick sheep, English longhorn cattle and Exmoor ponies and for that reason I did not bother to contact any NT properties except for the members' farm.
The fact remains however, that we need to look after our rare breeds and, to protect the land, do whatever we can to ensure that more farming and forestry is done with horses and mules. The Suffolk punch is still in need of support and mammoth jackstock still in short supply in northern Europe, although there is now an Andalusian jack now registered in Lincolnshire (at Radcliffe Donkey Sanctuary). The hackney horse needs to be recognised again as a saddle breed as well as being used in harness and could be an asset to any outdoor museum for carriage rides.
I am therefore asking all of you involved in outdoor museums to ensure that adequate land is set aside for grazing and that every effort is made to protect and promote rate breeds and to train people to work with horses and mules on the land. There is already a training scheme set up for the USA and Canada (the Good Farming Apprenticeship scheme). Why not set it up here as well?