From 23rd to 29th March, various countries across the globe are marking Museum Week. The purpose of this is to celebrate and encourage participation in educational and cultural establishments. I’ve always felt at home in such places . As a kid, they fired my imagination in a way that school singularly failed to. Maybe it was because they took you to other places, both real and fantastical. I remember going to visit the old Leeds City Museum when I was very young, to see the dinosaur fossils and Egyptian artefacts. Later the same day, I was taken to Leeds Art Gallery – still one of my favourite haunts – and was inspired by a Jacob Epstein sculpture to write a short story that actually impressed my quite terrifying Middle School English teacher (though in retrospect, it was more than a little indebted to John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy)
To enter into the spirit of things, I thought I would share some photos from some of my favourite museums and galleries in Yorkshire. As I’ve very recently blogged about Leeds Art Gallery and the Abbey House Museum, I haven’t included them here, but they are both well worth a visit.
(1) National Railway Museum, York
The National Railway Museum contains a huge collection of steam and diesel engines, passenger carriages and other railway ephemera. There is even the odd Harry Potter prop! Its most famous exhibit is probably the beautiful, streamlined locomotive from 1938, the Mallard.
(2) Thwaites Mill, Leeds
Thwaites Mill is set in a tranquil nature reserve and contains one of the few remaining water powered mills in the UK. The huge waterwheels and corn grinding machinery make this a great place to visit if you’re a fan of steampunk. There’s also a recreation of a mill owner’s house from the 1940’s.
(3) Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley Mills, Leeds
Another steampunk delight. Armley Mills was once the world’s largest cotton mill. It’s now an industrial museum housing a selection of textile machinery, narrow gauge steam engines and projectors from the early days of cinema. Parts of it seem to have fallen into a state of neglect, but this does add to the atmosphere in a strange kind of way.
(4) The Hepworth Wakefield
Opened in 2012, the Hepworth Wakefield has been one of the big success stories of the Yorkshire Art scene. It has a permanent display of Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures and a rolling program of new exhibitions. It’s also a beautiful building in its own right.
(5) Bradford Media Museum
Formerly the Film and Photography Museum, it has both permanent and changing multimedia displays. For SF geeks like me, the highlight is, of course, the replica of a 1970’s Dalek from Doctor Who.
(6) Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
With an ongoing series of shows, the Institute explores all that was most interesting, provactive and baffling in 20th Century sculpture. Below is a photograph of a recent, outdoor sound-based event.
I hope you find time to take part in Museum Week and perhaps share some of your favourite places too!