Museums and Galleries Month

EMMA LEE Museums and Galleries Month, which starts on Saturday, aims to encourage people to learn about and be inspired by their surroundings.


Museums used to be seen as dusty places filled with dull artefacts in glass cases.

But that's far from the truth.

Bright and colourful with interactive displays to engage the imagination, they can make learning fun.

In Yarmouth, Time and Tide, which is housed in a Victorian herring curing works and celebrates the area's maritime heritage, was a finalist in last year's Museum of the Year competition

Cromer Museum's Geology Gallery, which includes a display about the West Runton elephant, has just opened thanks to a £500,000 investment.

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A new adventure playground has opened at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

And phase one of a major project to overhaul Lynn Museum has just been completed. Next summer, the Bronze Age timber circle erroneously nicknamed “Seahenge” will form the centrepiece of the museum's collection.

And during Museums and Galleries Month, people are being encouraged to get out there and see them.

Head of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service Vanessa Trevelyan says: “Museums and Galleries Month is a lovely opportunity to see what we have to offer and is aimed at getting people who might not usually go to museums to get involved.

“When we update museums we start off by asking people what they want to see - both users and non- users - so we know what they like and don't like and that's such a helpful process.

“What by and large they do want - and Time and Tide is a good example of this - is for local stories to be told. Quite often nationally important events have happened on people's doorsteps.

“And in a bread and butter sense you have to get the basics right - like a café and disabled toilets. People have to feel as comfortable during their visit as possible.”

During the event, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at UEA reopens after a 21-month refurbishment.

Its first exhibition, Pacific Encounters, starts on May 21.

Gressenhall Museum and Work-house is one of the museums which has been filmed for the BBC2 series the People's Museum, which ties in with Museums and Galleries Month.

Flog It presenter Paul Martin travels across the country to give people the chance to choose what they would put in their own museum.

Following each show, viewers will be able to vote for an overall winner - announced at the end of the series - and put their favourite museum pieces into the virtual online People's Museum.

t For details about Norfolk activities visit

t For information about Museums and Galleries Month, which runs until June 4, visit

t The People's Museum starts on May 15.


Henry Baines' dramatic paintings of bygone King's Lynn form the centrepiece of an exhibition to celebrate the reopening of the town's museum.

The Changing Face of Lynn charts the town's history from Victorian times, when Baines painted the town's rich architecture under swirling skies, to the arrival of the London overspill and the building of the Fairstead estate.

Lynn Museum has changed dramatically too, thanks to a £1m revamp which has transformed the former Union Baptist Chapel which houses the town's heritage.

The finishing touches are still under way and the main galleries will not be open until later this month.

When they do, visitors who have been before will notice the biggest change as soon as they walk in.

And space has been set aside for the greatest treasure of all, which is expected to be installed in the new year.

Parts of “Seahenge”, the ancient timber circle found on Holme Beach in 1999, will be going on display in Lynn after lengthy and sometimes heated debate over what should be done with them.

There was anger locally when the 5,000-year-old circle and its upturned oak stump were dug from the sands. Since then, archaeologists say they have thrown new light on our understanding of how our ancestors lived.

t Lynn Museum is in Market Street, overlooking the bus station, and open 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Contact 01553 775001. Entry is free in 2006.

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