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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 January 2007, 12:01 GMT
Criticism over golly exhibition
Golly exhibition at Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham
The golly collection at the museum was compiled by a local resident
An exhibition of golly badges at a Hampshire museum has been criticised.

The private collection on display in Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham has been criticised for its perceived racist connotations.

Dr John Molyneux, from the University of Portsmouth, said the items should not be regarded simply as a childhood pastime or hobby.

But Nick Martin who owns the collection said the exhibition had been very popular and no-one had complained.

No complaints

Mr Martin told BBC News: "There is no dispute going on at all. The museum said that not one person had complained.

"I spent an hour and a half at the museum speaking to people who had come to see the exhibition and no-one had any problems with it."

The museum said it would continue to show the collection, but reconsider the decision if it received complaints.

The golly badge, which was once produced to promote sales of jam and marmalade, is now a collector's item.

Golly exhibition at Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham
The golly badges were produced to promote jam and marmalade

The collection on display at the museum was compiled by a local resident who started collecting the badges as a child.

But Dr Molyneux said the original creation of the golly character has more sinister connection.

He said: "At the time that they were produced they were part of a racist atmosphere, of a racist attitude towards non-white people, very definitely. That's the history I don't want to be lost.

"Presenting them as just innocent children's play things is suppressing that real history."

Hampshire County Council said it is sorry if anyone has been offended and the museum said it would reconsider the showing of the exhibit if it received direct complaints.

Councillor Margaret Snaith, from Hampshire County Council said: "Most people of my age can remember these things and can remember collecting them.

"We were very sorry when the connotation changed. I just think it's a great pity."

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