A unique collection of leather will be on show in the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton after the Museum of Leathercraft sets up home.
The museum, which will be located near the Market Place entrance to the shopping centre, will included a collection showcasing rare objects dating from 300,000 BC to the present day.
A spokesman for the museum said: “Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, pages from a 9th Century Qur’an - to snooker cue tips and luxury handbags - all are connected by man’s innovative use of skins and leather.
“The museum will be free for entry and will offer learning opportunities for the benefit of the public, university students, scholars and school children,” he added.
The National Leather Collection boasts more than 5,000 rare and unique items each with a story to tell; over 10,000 slides and images, and a reference library of more than 3,000 volumes on the subject.
He added: “The new space will be a place to engage with the crafts and skills of leather manufacture, with live demonstrations – a bookbinder’s studio and leather designer’s workshops. The National Leather Collection is ‘the’ one stop shop for the study and celebration of all things leather.”
James Whitehill, senior fund manager for Legal & General Property, said: “We are delighted to welcome the National Leather Collection to the Grosvenor Centre. The addition of this heritage museum will bring a new and exciting dimension to the Centre and is a clever solution to this previously unused space, encouraging the public to visit the Centre as they discover a unique part of Northampton’s heritage.”
Philip Warner, curator of the National Leather Collection, said: “Leather is everywhere! You probably have at least three pieces on you right now. Yet we take it for granted. It’s an honour to continue to collect, talk about and inspire present and future generations with the simple fact – there is nothing like leather! To be able to do this in Northampton – the heart of the UK leather industry – is an opportunity not to be missed.”
Russell Hall, centre manager at the Grosvenor Centre, said: “This is a really exciting time for the Grosvenor Centre and for Northampton.
“We are proud to lend support to this exciting venture – it not only celebrates Northampton’s heritage in leather, but, given the scope and variety of treasures that that the National Leather Centre can display, will also stimulate tourism back to the heart of our thriving town.
“It provides a central, convenient location for the museum making it incredibly accessible to the public and students and we are delighted to see former redundant office space in the town centre being re-used to good effect.
“We are confident the uniqueness of the museum will see numerous visitors from far and wide.”
The museum will open later this year.