About Acme Museum Services

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That’s me Hamish MacGillivray. I have named my company after the Acme Company boxes, that featured in the Warner Brothers cartoons, who always provided a variety of mail order equipment for tricky situations. Also, in ancient Greek it means ‘perfection’.

I have been described as a curatorial handyman. I am part freelance exhibitions project manager, a bit of a researcher, have some DIY, drawing and audio-visual skills, a sprinkling of oral history experience and a big interest in developing community projects.

I have over 30 years experience working in local authority galleries, independent museums and on Heritage Lottery Funded projects. I am based in Brighton and an Associate of the Museums Association. Scroll below to see highlights of my career timeline in my varied heritage and arts career……
  • 1989 - 1991


    I started my heritage career as a part-time ‘butler’ at Preston Manor assisting the Brighton Museums education department with school tours. I then organised my first proper exhibition, for Brighton Museum, in 1991 ‘A Day Trip to Brighton.’
  • 1991-1997


    I was the Curator at the London Toy and Model Museum from 1991 to 1997. I was part of the team that created new interactive galleries and events for this eccentric collection near Paddington station. A highlight was taking a huge 100 year old working Welsh coalmine model to an exhibition in Tokyo.
  • 1997 - 2003


    I became the Exhibitions Officer at the inspiring Croydon Clocktower until 2003. I managed over 30 in-house or adapted hire exhibitions including hands-on automata, sculpture, Yoruba beliefs. With a team of curators, designers and education experts I managed the most amazing and complex touring exhibition ‘Ancient Egypt: Digging for Dreams’.
  • 2003 - 2005


    I joined Lewes District Council as their arts officer and managed 2 tiny historic galleries and the Spectrum newsletter. I organised the ArtWave Open House 2004 parade. This event started with a raucous damp street parade with samba band and kids zooming on scooters.
  • 2005


    I dipped my toe into the freelance world in 2005 and was back at Croydon Clocktower organising an exhibition about the 100 years of history of Crystal Palace Football Club. I and my job share partner only had 3 months to make it happen. We developed a network of fans to help us source loans of unique memorabilia. See WHY? and WATCH! for some tips.
  • 2006-2008


    At the Lightbox in Woking I witnessed a brand new gallery being built. I was the exhibitions manager and created the exhibitions programme. With a team of volunteers and technicians I organised the installation of very heavy Liz Frink sculptures around the building. I also organised the first ever Lightbox exhibition 'Animated Adventures' featuring Wallace and Gromit.
  • 2008


    From 2008 to the wallop of the Crash I worked for a variety of clients: researched ‘War + Medicine’ display topics for the Wellcome Collections; consulted on interpretation plans for Great Dixter House and Gardens; organised seminars for the Museums Association.

  • 2009 - 2010

    TESTING 1, 2, 3, 4...

    I gained new audio-visual IT skills in Eastbourne recording oral history of hard to reach older people from World War Two evacuees, Chinese, Jewish and Gypsy Romany Traveller communities for the WRVS Heritage Plus project. Then training students for HLF community projects in London and creating reminiscence group Mobile Memories.

  • 2011 - 2016


    From 2011 to 2016 I was job share Exhibitions Curator at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery. As well as organising local artists exhibitions I made a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support the First World War ‘Training for War’ community project. See Behind the Scenes pdf in WHY? and WATCH! videos.

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  • 2012 - 2016


    Back at the Lightbox as a freelancer. Researched content and designed with Bower-Wood set builders family friendly temporary exhibitions: ‘Alien Invasion’ all things H.G.Wells and sci-fi in 2013; ‘The Giant Electronic Art Show’ everything interactive in 2014; and in summer 2016 co-created ‘The Story of British Comics So Far: Cor! By Gum! Zarjaz!’ This featured Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, classic nostalgia, jigsaws and a glimpse into the digital future. Find WATCH! to peek at these projects.

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  • 2017


    Busy freelance year including: storytelling training for staff at the Tudor ruins of Cowdray House; organized the late Julian Hayward’s exhibition at the Grange, Rottingdean; and joined the Museums Association’s Transformers summer training. In the autumn recruited by the National Trust as a Visitor Experience consultant for 'Churchill’s Chartwell' project funded by the Heritage Lottery, see 2018.
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  • 2018


    Worked full steam at the amazing National Trust property of Chartwell in Kent. Pushed my skills organising the planning permission and build of a new treehouse in Chartwell woods. Quickly followed by commissioning ten replica handling objects for schools. Then I co-ordinated the design of a new Chartwell House family guide leaflet. And I managed the oral history group of volunteers who recorded fascinating interviews with former Chartwell staff.
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  • 2019


    Evolved into a gardens content developer aka story hunter. Final work at Chartwell. Discovered Churchill family memories and horticulture facts for the audio garden guide. In autumn I started a new freelance gig: the amazing research journey into Highdown Gardens, near Worthing. It used to be the Botanical Downton Abbey, created by Sir Frederick and Lady Sybil Stern, see 1930s pic. Worked with designer and garden team to develop a display for the new Visitor Centre funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
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  • 2020


    Digging for Highdown Gardens. Despite the Covid Lockdown I researched on-line more stories about the Sterns with an army of librarians, archivists, volunteers and historians. My inspiration was the old Highdown Visitors Book bursting with forgotten signatures of Anglo-Jewish aristocrats, plant hunters, Royals, and plant scientists. New research roots appeared with memories of East End kids camping at Highdown and Zoom presentations. More to be revealed in the opening of the new Highdown Visitors Centre and website hopefully in 2021.
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  • 2021


    Highdown Gardens and Visitor Centre (with new website) did open in June 2021. Visitors are surprised by the remarkable stories surrounding Sir Frederick and Lady Sybil Stern. Now I am entering the exhibitions world again as the MAGNET (Museums and Galleries Network for Exhibition Touring) co-ordinator for 11 UK regional museums. I am working part-time based at the Horniman Museum and Gardens.
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  • 2022


    MAGNET contract ended in June, fingers crossed for MAGNET 2.0! After a summer floating in a treehouse I have become the project manager for Blazing Saddles. I will be organising new volunteer research and performances to reveal lost stories of women’s cycling in Sussex from the 1890s. Meanwhile, at West Horsley Place and Somali Culture House I am advising volunteer teams to become history detectives…
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  • 2023


    This turned out to be my year of planning research, interpretation and training for: Sussex Blazing Saddles, Somali Culture House and West Horsley Place. The detective volunteers at West Horsley discovered cracking characters and stories from a 1930s accounts book. We developed this content into a summer family tour with lots of audience participation. Meanwhile…I go international!
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  • 2024


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