Its inaugural exhibition is ‘The Art of Surf’ – displaying 200 years of art in surfing from the sketches of early explorers through to works by contemporary British surfing artists.
“Explorers and early travellers drew surfers, surfers decorated their boards – especially in the 60s & 70s, advertisers plundered surfing imagery right the way back to the early 1900s – and today there’s a flourishing British surfing art scene,” said the charity’s director and founder Pete Robinson.
The first dedicated surfing museum in Europe was started in 2003, running successful touring exhibitions.
The project’s main funders are Leader 4 Torridge & North Devon, North Devon District Council and North Devon Areas of Outstanding natural Beauty.
“We couldn’t have done it without the amazing support from surfers. Not just around the UK, but around the world, donating items and money,” said Pete, a former award-winning ITV News reporter. “I’d especially like to thank my wife Bianca and the charity’s Trustees. They’ve been truly amazing.”
The Museum of British Surfing is believed to have the largest and most historically significant collection in Europe, with members of the public donating many key items to be kept for future generations to enjoy.
Each year a new themed exhibition will be displayed, exploring different themes in surfing history and culture. The museum will continue its popular touring shows around the UK.
All the researchers are part of a worldwide network of surf historians, and their latest discovery is that surfing took place in Britain in the 1800s.
Recent surf history discoveries by the Museum of British Surfing:
- Crew members sailing with Captain James Cook tried surfboards in Hawaii in 1779
- An English Naval captain who surfed in the late 1800s
- Photos of Edward, Prince of Wales surfing in 1920
- Agatha Christie was a keen surfer in 1922
- The earliest known film of stand-up surfing in Britain c1929
- Photos of stand-up surfers in Britain during World War 2