The gallery’s collection was first accumulated on Long Island, spent time on display in New Hampshire, and fell into a legal dispute in New Orleans before reaching its new home in the midwest. Buckland, who spread knowledge of Gardnerian Wicca in the United States and has written many books on the subject, will be on hand to cut the ribbon to the new gallery.
“This is a real milestone in the long history of the collection,” he said. “I am delighted and, admittedly, very excited about it.” He sketched out the collection’s history, which he said was inspired by Gerald Gardner’s museum.
“It started to really take form in 1966, and I was encouraged with it, after Gerald’s death, by Olwen and Loic (Monique and Campbell Wilson). We still have a few of the bits and pieces that came originally from Gerald’s collection. The museum developed initially in the basement of my house on Long Island, New York, starting to take form in 1964 until it grew to the point where it had to have its own home. That was in 1966, in the building in Bay Shore, New York, where it really thrived. When I later moved up to New Hampshire, it went with me and we had a number of good seasons at Weirs Beach, New Hampshire.
“Then, when I moved back south, it went into storage where it remained until I sold it to Monte Plaisance in New Orleans (I was unable to reopen it myself but didn’t want it to simply sit in storage; it needed to be ‘out there.’) Unfortunately Plaisance turned out to be a very poor choice. He did not come through with the money (forcing a lawsuit), misplaced many of the artifacts, and badly treated or even destroyed others.”
As Buckland recalls, “Rev. Velvet Reith, and her helpers, were instrumental in rescuing the collection and started the job of restoring it. Regrettably Velvet was not able to complete the task before her untimely death last year. At that point Toni Rotonda, of Columbus, Ohio, was able to (again) effect a rescue and bring the collection to Ohio. She found a venue in which to launch the gallery, as a preamble to the whole museum proper, and Steven Intermill has shown himself to be a dedicated and enthusiastic curator. So I very much look forward to the opening at the end of this month, and to the next leg on the journey of the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick.”
According to curator Intermill, “It’s a small room, which is why we are calling it the Buckland Gallery. We will try to pack it as tightly as we can with items from the collection, but plan on constantly rotating artifacts in and out so if guests want to visit multiple times there will always be something new to see. We also hope to have a couple small shows throughout the year.”
The museum also has a presence on Instagram and Facebook. An ongoing crowdfunding campaign is “helping with displays, framing, and restoration of some of the objects,” he said. The process of turning the museum into a nonprofit has been started, but is not yet complete.
Intermill has been setting up the first displays with a partner, Jillian. When asked about how they selected which pieces to put into this inaugural show, he admitted that it wasn’t easy.
“There’s so many beautiful pieces in the collection, it’s impossible to whittle down to a favorite. That being said, I’m very excited to display the besom from Gerald Gardner, brought over by Ray from the Isle of Man. It’s hanging in a place of honor in the gallery, and I’m excited to show it off.
“Jillian has been working on a lot of the jewelry and accessories. She is excited to show Ray’s robe and Lady Rowan’s Gardnerian high priestess bracelet and lunar crescent crown. We’ve been seeing those in photographs for a long time, so a chance to see them in person is exciting. Also some of the unusual things like Buckland Museum-made Ouija boards that were screen printed onto black acrylic, and other fortune-telling tools are going to be fun for people to see.”
The gallery is inside A Separate Reality records at 2678 West 14th Street, Cleveland. It will be open 5-8 p.m. Fridays, noon until 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For the ribbon cutting, which is free to the public, the gallery will be open 5-9 p.m. on Apr. 29.