Phil Loder talks with David Willey, curator of The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset
David Willey, the public face of The Tank Museum in Dorset, UK, will be familiar to anyone interested in historic tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. His 20 years as curator have seen a transformation in the collection and how it is presented, as well as a huge expansion of the museum’s digital output and global reach. However, as he is quick to point out, none of this would have been possible without the talents and enthusiasm of the Tank Museum team, and the many volunteers who have contributed to its success.
David grew up in East Sussex and had initially intended to go into the army. He completed his Regimental Commissions Board, but was advised to gain some life experience first. In his year off, he discovered Victorian art and changed direction to study for a history of art degree. A postgraduate course to learn to be a curator followed, covering topics such as how museums work, processes for cataloguing collections and techniques for conserving materials and artefacts. David then worked in a number of roles at the Government Art Collection, which included meeting ministers and other government officials, as well as travelling to British embassies and high commissions around the world to look after works of art.