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The original Cirencester museum

The Neon Play studio is called The Old Museum. And we had a meeting with Amanda Hart, the curator of the Corinium Museum this week and we asked her about the history of our building as we were guessing it used to be a museum. And indeed, we're not just pretty faces - it did used to be the old museum. How clever are we? This is what she told us...

Are you sitting comfortably?

Henry George, the 4th Earl Bathurst (1790-1866), funded the building of Cirencester’s first museum in Tetbury Road. It was built to house the Hunting Dogs and Four Seasons Mosaics found in 1849 in Dyer Street, Cirencester, now on display in the Corinium Museum.

The lifting of the Hunting Dogs Mosaic (above) as illustrated in the Illustrated London News.

Corinium Mosaic find

The Four Season’s Mosaic (above) as it is today now on display in the Corinium Museum, Cirencester. Images kindly supplied by the Corinium Museum, Cirencester.

Corinium mosaic

The museum opens

The museum opened in 1856 and received 1740 visitors in the first year. It was staffed by honorary curators and a resident custodian lived in the adjacent lodge. The Earl’s museum soon began to benefit from donations from other local collectors. By the 1930’s, when the Bathurst collection was given to the town, it numbered nearly 3000 objects.

The following etchings are from the Illustrated London News showing the newly opened Corinium Museum building in Tetbury Road, Cirencester. 

The Old Museum

And here's how it looks today. 

Old Museum Cirencester

Inside the Museum

Before it was converted by the Bathurst Estate, it was one big open-plan building. The downstairs windows and mezzanine were only installed ten years ago. That was lucky.

You can see from the illustration the two big mosaics that the museum was purpose-built for. Very cool.

The Old Museum

The roof all looks pretty similar...

The Old Museum with Neon Play

And the lovely stone door surround is still here. Even if it's got Mr Bump and Spiderman on it now.

The Old Museum with Neon Play

Back to the future

And as you might know, Neon Play now sits in this magnificent building, creating some of the finest iPhone games known to mankind. If only the Romans knew what they were missing - they could build straight roads and wheels and stuff - but could they make an iPhone game. Nope, nowhere near.

picture of neon play office

A must-have mosaic?

And here is a mosaic that Neon Play are offering to the Corinium Museum free of charge. If you think it should be put in the museum, please tweet @AmandaCHart.

The best mosaic in the entire world...ever!


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