THIS year, the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage is celebrating the 60th birthday of our collection.

To mark this very special occasion, we are holding an extraordinary exhibition.

I and a team of valiant volunteers have selected objects from the reserve collection that are not normally on display.

Many of them tell fascinating stories – and not just about local life; some reflect national pastimes or events.

The exhibition demonstrates how broad the museum collection is, and the importance of maintaining it as a representation of past and present life in the Vale.

One of the highlights is a fabric and paper collage of the town made by children of Garston Lane Primary School in 1972.

It depicts buildings in Market Place made of fabric and paper.

Is there anyone who remembers working on it?

Another popular exhibit is a child’s scooter, handmade by Mr Hodges in the 1920s.

Donated to the museum by his daughter in the 1980s, it looks remarkably similar to scooters you see today.

But the idea of having a museum for Wantage predates both of these exhibits.

The discussion first began in 1958 when the Urban District Council made an appeal for objects to form a town collection.

The response was so positive that in the 1960s the growing collection was housed in the Civic Hall, and then the Victoria Cross Gallery in Market Place.

Since 1975 The Old Surgery in Church Street has provided a permanent home to the collection and, thanks to many years of hard work (mostly by volunteers), the museum galleries and collection have evolved into what you see today.

The collection now contains more than 6,000 objects, photographs and documents.

They range from a hoard of seeds, buttons and geological specimens collected by a Victorian Berkshire schoolboy to the Williams F1 car made down the road in Grove and once driven by British racing legend Damon Hill.

The collection continues to grow, and we are grateful for the kind donations of items by individuals.

As a result, this anniversary exhibition has been wonderful to work on.

It is a unique opportunity to display objects we have been seen by the public before, for example the truncheon used by the last Wantage Beadle, and the bugle used by the Berkshire Volunteers in 1911.

It is a very eclectic and quirky display, but I think that makes it more enjoyable as there is something for everyone.

The diamond anniversary exhibition at the Vale & Downland Museum runs from June 8 to July 21.