7 virtual tours of Norfolk museums and galleries
PUBLISHED: 12:26 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:02 30 April 2020
Virtual tours, artistic communities and well-stocked online shops mean there’s no need to miss out on your favourite local museum during the coronavirus lockdown.
Despite the closure of museums and galleries across Norfolk, art lovers and history buffs needn’t despair: there are still plenty of ways to visit your favourite local museum or art gallery from the comfort of your own home. Here’s all you need to know.
1 Norwich Castle
If you live in the city, you might still be able to see the Norman Keep of Norwich Castle on your daily walks – or even from your window. It’s widely regarded as one of Europe’s most important 12th-century buildings and is currently the subject of a National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project, which will see the castle transformed and returned to what it looked like in its heydey as a revered royal palace.
If you’re unsure what inside the Keep looks like today then why not try out a self-guided virtual tour? Check out Norwich Castle on Google Street View to see more or visit https://tinyurl.com/y8ss7697
Of course, Norwich Castle Museum & Gallery isn’t just famous for its historical importance – it’s also home to a diverse collection of exotica. The collection includes everything from ceramic teapots and Norwich silver to paintings by the Norwich School of Artists and natural history specimens – some of which were the items first acquired by the museum when it was formed in 1825. You can check out the collections, along with other items belonging to Norfolk Museums Service, in the catalogue at http://norfolkmuseumscollections.org/#!/home
And if you really want to get attached to some of the objects in the collection, you might consider adopting one. Find out all you need to know at Adopt an Object, www.adoptanobject.co.uk
2 Blickling Hall
Built in 1616 and the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, Blickling Hall is a much-loved jewel in the crown of the county and now proudly looked after by the National Trust. Highlights include the impressive Great Hall, the beautifully decorated Chinese Bedroom and the Long Gallery, which houses one of the most important historical book collections in England.
See inside the property by taking a virtual tour at www.norwich360.com/blickling
3 Strangers’ Hall
Strangers’ Hall is one of Norwich’s most historic buildings and is believed to date back to the 14th century. It wasn’t until the 16th century, however, that it acquired its name, when it was owned by local grocer and mayor, Thomas Sotherton. He encouraged asylum seekers (known then as ‘strangers’) to settle in the city. It is believed that many of them stayed in lodgings at the house and, as skilled textile weavers, they helped to grow the city’s prominent textile industries.
Today, Strangers’ Hall is in the care of Norfolk Museums Service. You can see the rooms in great detail online at www.norwich360.com/panos/strangershall.html
4 The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell
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The Museum of Norwich tells the story of our fine city from medieval times to the present day, and charts the industries and brands that have made Norwich what it is today. An additional gallery also tells the history of the Bridewell itself, which was once used as a house of correction and prison.
You can see some of the displays through this virtual tour at https://www.norwich360.com/panos/bridewell.html which is perfect to whet your appetite for re-opening: many of the exhibits are best enjoyed in person, as they are so hands-on and interactive.
5 RAF Radar Museum
Many people don’t know about the RAF Radar Museum in Neatishead. It was built in 1941 and, during the early years of the Second World War, continuously monitored the skies over the UK. Its purpose was to watch out for unauthorised incursions into UK air space and to provide intelligence, helping the RAF to despatch fighters when they needed to intercept. During the Cold War, the base reported to NATO and was responsible for defending UK airspace and parts of the North Sea.
The museum was established in 1994 and today it is run as a charitable trust with 20 exhibition rooms and outdoor exhibits, which trace the history of radar from its invention in the 1930s to the present day.
Although you can’t experience the whole museum from home, you can enjoy a brief panoramic tour of some of the rooms at www.norwich360.com/panos/radarmuseum.html
6 Pinkfoot Gallery
Sadly the doors to the Pinkfoot Gallery in Cley-next-the-Sea are closed, but the team are still offering to hold private virtual viewings over Facetime – all you need to do is book a slot by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The gallery specialises in modern British nature art and has a wide range of paintings and sculptures on view, including many from Rachel Lockwood’s recent exhibition, The Seal Coast.
In the last few weeks, co-owners Sarah Whittley and Rachel Lockwood have also launched the ‘Pinkfoot loo roll challenge’, which has seen creatives all over the world take part by transforming ordinary toilet roll tubes into works of art. Artists of all ages – both professional and amateur – have been uploading their work to the gallery’s social media sites to showcase their talent. Find out more by searching for Pinkfoot Gallery on Facebook and Instagram.
7 Sainsbury Centre
If you had plans to see Art Deco by the Sea at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, you may, understandably, be disappointed by the closure.
Thankfully, you can watch a 15-minute tour on BBC iPlayer from Thursday, April 30 as part of BBC Arts’ Museum from Home initiative, the culmination of a week-long celebration of museums and galleries to promote culture in quarantine. Check it out at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08bqpjb/culture-in-quarantine-exhibition-tours-2-art-deco-by-the-sea-the-exhibition
The gallery’s web shop has been recently restocked with souvenirs, including a catalogue of works featured in the exhibition. Visit www.sainsburycentre.ac.uk/shop to find out more and bring elements of the exhibition to you.
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