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New York museum boss returns to his Bromsgrove roots
12:20pm Thursday 30th August 2012 in Local
A TOP New York-based museum boss born in Bromsgrove returned to his roots 50 years after he left to follow his dream of becoming an archaeologist.
Dr David Whitehouse, 70, senior scholar at the prestigious Corning Museum of Glass in New York State, grew up in Wildmoor and attended Catshill First School.
He studied at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, before heading off to Cambridge University to study archaeology - having firmly decided on his chosen profession at the tender age of 10, after receiving a book about famous archaeological digs as a Christmas present.
“That got me hooked”, he recalled.
Work on digs at archaeological sites in Italy and Iran followed and, in 1984, he left a post in Rome to take up the role of chief curator at the most famous glass museum in the world - in the US city of Corning around 250 miles from New York City.
By 1992 he was director of the museum and by 1999 he was executive director.
But in 2011 he left the post to become the museum’s senior scholar - to focus on a number of projects including writing and publishing additional volumes on Islamic glass.
Now 70, and around half a century since he left Bromsgrove, he made a whistlestop visit back to Wildmoor over the Bank Holiday weekend.
He said: “I didn't know how it was going to feel - 50 years is a long time.
“I didn't know whether it would be a big mistake. 50 years ago Wildmoor was a very small village. Most people worked locally - it wasn't a prosperous village.
“Today just about everybody who lives there has got a lot of money - all the old houses have been extended - they're bigger, smarter and very well kept, and many have got Mercedes or Range Rovers parked on the front.
“It's changed from being part of rural Worcestershire, to being an upscale suburb of Birmingham.
“When I was brought up there only my father was a professional. There were no lawyers and no accountants.”
It was fascinating to return, the grandfather-of-six added.
During the visit he took a trip to Stourbridge to see a newly-created replica of the most famous cameo glass vase in antiquity, which he has written extensively about.
The copycat vase, at Hagley Hall, was created by a team of Stourbridge glassmakers based at Ruskin Glass Centre, Amblecote.
A book about the project has also just been launched, which includes a foreword by Dr Whitehouse who has described the effort as a “triumph”.