Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth giving hope for the future with launch of new exhibitions

At a time when hope for the future is  sorely needed, it seems apt to be turning to Britain’s best-loved literary family for some inspiration.

Harry Jelley, the audience development officer for the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, is pictured with ceramic works by artist Layla Khoo. The museum re-opened to the public on Wednesday, May 19, after the latest easing of lockdown restrictions. (Picture: James Hardisty)
Harry Jelley, the audience development officer for the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, is pictured with ceramic works by artist Layla Khoo. The museum re-opened to the public on Wednesday, May 19, after the latest easing of lockdown restrictions. (Picture: James Hardisty)

The Brontë sisters were undoubtedly dreamers who would map out their aspirations, which ultimately became a reality as they were responsible for some of the world’s best-loved novels such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

And as the Yorkshire museum dedicated to their lives re-opens today, visitors will be given the chance to follow one particularly quirky habit of two of the sisters, Emily and Anne.

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A new exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth will feature a new ceramic vessel each month into which visitors can place a slip of paper on which they have written their own hopes.

The Brontë Parsonage Museum and Old School Room in Haworth. The museum has re-opened to visitors with two new exhibitions from celebrated ceramic artist Layla Khoo and Isabel Greenberg, the illustrator and writer behind the Brontë inspired graphic novel ‘Glass Town’. (Picture: Marisa Cashill)

The work by artist Layla Khoo has been inspired by the diary papers of the two younger Brontë sisters, whose eldest sibling was Charlotte. They would store the papers in a cash box, and revisit them after four years to look back on the aspirations they had written down.

A selection of the original diary papers will also be on display. The exhibition, which was originally planned for last year, has taken on an added resonance since the coronavirus pandemic, with a focus on the future at the forefront of so many people’s minds.

Harry Jelley, the museum’s audience development officer, said: “In the turbulent times in which we live, it’s poignant how Layla has connected with the emotional and topical threads that we share with the Brontës’ time – disease, political movements, ambition, apprehension, hope.

"We hope visitors will find some peace and calm to reflect with this installation.”

The Parsonage will welcome back its first visitors today, and anyone passing through the entrance will be given unprecedented access to some of the 7,000 artefacts which are in its collection.

Visitor numbers will be limited to just six people every 15 minutes, meaning the venue will be free of the crowds who normally pack into its corridors and rooms.

Each year, as many as 80,000 visitors descend on the Parsonage, but admissions will be scaled back to adhere to social distancing regulations.

Among the highlights will be the exhibition marking the bicentenary of Anne Brontë’s birth, which has been extended to this year after the Parsonage was forced to close in 2020.

Another new exhibition is Gondal Arise!, an installation by Isabel Greenberg, the author and illustrator of Glass Town, a graphic novel about the Brontës and the stories written in their youth.

The installation, which will be in place until December, will feature new maps that explore Emily and Anne’s imaginary world of Gondal.

Advance bookings are required and details are at www.bronte.org.uk/visit-us or by calling 01535 642323.