'The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi' is a meticulously curated, small museum, packed with fascinating unique items from the worlds of science-fiction history and classic era 'Doctor Who'. Despite its 'small museum' tag, you will actually find far more exhibits on display than in many much larger establishments - and every item has been painstakingly researched, preserved and displayed by museum creator/curator Neil Cole.
CREATING 'The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi'
2 - CONSTRUCTION
By 2017, the next stage of the museum project could commence. Neil had always wanted to create a tribute to the original 'Blackpool Doctor Who Exhibition' that had captured his imagination as a small child. Part of the original exhibition's excitement was that new monsters and exhibits were gradually unveiled as the visitor made their way through a series of darkly lit, atmospheric corridors. To try and replicate this effect, the next steps were to fit a new floating floor upon which a series of 'twists and turns' could be constructed, with a complex wiring system beneath to feed the multitude of lights needed to illuminate the exhibits!
4 - PRESENTATION
Once an exhibit is ready to exhibit, it has to be mounted on a bespoke stand. Again Neil has created a unique wooden stand to support each exhibit in the museum. This job alone took many months of construction to complete and needs to be adjusted if ever a new exhibit is added to the collection displays. To complete a display, every exhibit (whether a complete monster or a single script page) requires an information plaque. Neil has spent and unknowable amount of time researching and designing every plaque in the museum. His intention: to give the visitor to 'The Museum of Classic Sci-Fi' the best possible experience and knowledge of each item and how it forms part of the greater Doctor Who/science-fiction narrative.
1 - BUILDING RESTORATION
Work commenced in April 2015 restoring the near derelict, 300 hundred year old cellar of Osborne House in Allendale. With crumbling walls and ceilings, dampened mortar and flooding, this was a monumental task. Ultimately it took nearly three years for Neil (with some support from family and friends!) to complete restoration of the stonework which included repairing a vaulted room and smashed fireplace. Neil spent many, many, long dark nights after days teaching, angle grinding out mortar and repointing...
3 - RESTORING MONSTERS
With the museum taking shape, concurrently (and for at least a decade preceding the start of building), Neil was rescuing neglected classic era 'Doctor Who' monsters. His passion for the old show and it's surviving relics had become a mission to preserve these classic aliens and stop them perishing away forever. The BBC policy of auctioning off their costume stocks to the public, resulted in many unique items disappearing forever to live in hidden collectors' rooms and wardrobes. The monsters suffered more than most, with their rubber constructions requiring great care to avoid them rotting to dust. Armed with sculpting skills and determination, Neil worked to repair such iconic creations as the surviving 'Terileptil' and 'Cyberscout' costumes. Where possible he would only add preservatives, but in cases like the museum's 'Cheetah Person', Neil sculpted a new, accurate face to replace the entirely crumbled original prosthetic. Neil's work is ongoing...