From 28th March to 3rd April, it’s Museum Week 2016, in praise of museums everywhere. It’s Twitter-based, and as well as the #MuseumWeek hashtag itself, there are seven themes for seven days, each letting museums bring another part of their world to light.
As an absolute addict of learning new things, I thought I’d try and come up with Top Ten Museums. I’ve been strict – ‘proper’ museums only, no historic houses, sites etc.; I’ve allowed galleries though, because how can the Louvre not be in there?
So, in no particular order (because that really would be too hard…):
- The Louvre, Paris: I’ve only visited the Louvre twice, but I absolutely love it. First time, alongside my parents, we did the essentials, plus plenty of other bits and pieces, but on my second visit, we arrived first thing, did almost every gallery, and didn’t leave almost until we were thrown out. Bliss!
- National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh: As with the Louvre, I have easily spent all day in here. A couple of years ago, I headed north for their exhibition on Mary, Queen of Scots, and it was one of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen. Nice café too, because these things count…
- The Discovery Museum, Newcastle: I remember visiting the Discovery with my grandparents as a child, and being fascinated by the giant static globe they had, as well as the air hockey table. Even just a couple of years ago, my dad and I headed there for a game, to bring back the memories. And recently, of course, it’s hosted great exhibitions, like the Fenwicks at Christmas displays, and Death at Dawn.
- Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle: This museum doesn’t exist anymore, with the artefacts being redirected elsewhere, but I have such fond memories of visiting with my grandparents, and being particular keen on their Temple of Mithras. Roman history has always fascinated me, and I think this could be one of the reasons why.
- Mull Museum, Tobermory: In the colourful town of Tobermory, this is one of those fabulous little museums, TARDIS-like, fitting in far more than would seem feasible when viewed from the outside! With a local history focus, it’s a great way to find out more about Mull.
- Natural History Museum, London: This one seems obvious I suppose, being scientifically-inclined. As a child, I adored the huge cabinets of specimens, alongside the spectacular whales and dolphins hanging from the ceilings. Although, I will confess to being saddened at discovering that the famous dinosaur, ‘Dippy’ was, in fact, not a real skeleton. How many others have been deceived down the years??
- Killhope Lead-Mining Museum, Weardale: More childhood visit memories, but it always intrigued me, and heading down the mine terrified me when I was younger. Going back several years later, the industry was key.
- The First Post Office, Toronto: I like quirky, the quirkier the better, and this museum was brilliant. Furthermore, the district the Post Office is in is still very much of its time, and last year, my obsession with Murdoch Mysteries meant I was reminded of it on a weekly basis.
- King Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester: Well, it had to be on the list, didn’t it? I visited back in August 2014, and the way the original grave-site had been presented was beautiful. It was nicely unbiased, with lots of interesting snippets, but honestly, it was, and should be, all about the grave.
- Medieval Museum, Paris: Ok, I’ll admit this is a bit of a cheat, as I’ve not actually visited this one yet; however, I firmly believe in having something to look forward to, and having read The Lady in the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier last year, I cannot wait to go and see the real tapestries in a couple of weeks.
Museums are a fantastic resource, for inspiration and research alike – and I shall keep visiting as many as I can, whenever possible…