London Lantern

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Museums And Galleries Month - May 2004

12/01/2004, By Ylva French

Reader Rating: 2.8 from 634 votes


Museums and galleries across the UK will be inviting the public to explore, discover and travel through mind and space during Museums and Galleries Month in May. Loyd Grossman, Chairman of the Campaign for Museums previewing the month, says: “One third of UK’s population visits a museum or gallery during the year.

The aim of Museums and Galleries Month is to encourage return visits as well as new visitors to discover our past and present heritage. We also invite visitors to the UK to explore our heritage. This is the one time of the year when some 1,200 museums or galleries in the UK unite under a common banner to inspire us, the visitors, to return not just to our local museum or gallery but to explore further afield.”

2004 is the 200th anniversary of the first steam locomotive, the inspiration for this year’s theme Travel and the art of travelling. For many museums this a great opportunity to put together special events around their collections of trams, buses, trains and planes.

However, transport is only part of the story. Our obsession with travel - always wanting to be in the next place, or longing to come home - is part of our history and an intensely personal experience, which galleries and museums can explore to the full. This includes the impact of past travel and discoveries in terms of collections of art and artefacts, or present travel with special exhibitions of photographs or souvenirs, or new art exhibitions.

The Campaign for Museums is also supporting the French promotion “Printemps des Musees” on Sunday 2 May, and has invited museums and galleries in the UK to develop events with a French flavour, particularly in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Entente Cordiale.

Leading the railway celebrations is the National Railway Museum’s Rail Fest from 29 May (York). Among early events already confirmed is the “All Change” railway exhibition at the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum (Northern Ireland) which will explore the experience of railway travel past and present, while the Grampian Transport Museum (Aberdeenshire) will invite visitors to ride in vintage cars and steam engines. At Railworld in Peterborough visitors can explore the history of travel and transport and its impact on our lives.

At Wotton Heritage Centre modes of transport to and from Wotton will be featured including the Dart coach and the Wotton Hopper, plus vehicles such as a mail coach, charabancs, bicycles and buses.

Many museum collections are the results of travel and exploration and events highlighting the world of discovery will be taking place at Denbigh Museum (Wales) “In the footsteps of Denbigh-born explorer H.M. Stanley”, Travel in Roman Britain is the subject for events and an exhibition at the Senhouse Roman Museum (Cumbria).

In the Lake District, the inspiration for many poets and artists, the Abbot Hall Art Gallery (Kendal) is staging a study day exploring the landscape and how it was interpreted in the18th and 19th centuries.

‘Going Away This Year?’ Buxton Museum and Art Gallery are using their permanent collection to take a look at far away places such as Japan and South Africa. Stroud House Gallery in Gloucestershire will hold two exhibitions. ‘Trains Of Thought’ explores aspects of the ‘journey’ literal and metaphysical and ‘The Travel Of Art’ includes installation, film and photography inspired by a British Rail Goods Shed.

Souvenirs and postcards make popular personal collections and at Rhyl Museum (Wales) visitors will be invited to create their own seaside cartoon or postcard with the help of an artist. In Somerset the results of an artist-led children’s project on the theme of travel organised by Black Swan Arts will be shown in four separate exhibitions opening during May. The Museum of East Asian Art (Bath) is staging an exhibition of travel photographs from Tibet (taken by local residents). At the Gurkha Museum (Winchester), “When they go home” is the evocative title of an exhibition of pictures of Gurkha solders lives after they leave the British Army.

“Museums and Galleries Month 2003 proved very worthwhile for participating museums and galleries with more than 50 per cent reporting that they had attracted new visitors”, said Charles Saumarez Smith, Director of the National Gallery and Co-Chairman of Museums and Galleries Month. “We have every intention of making an even greater splash in 2004 and look forward to working with museums and galleries, artists and the media, to make this a very special month.”

If you want to find out more, visit The Museums and Galleries Month 2004 Website; the 2004 events search is now active. Events can be accessed by date, place, region, museum or theme.

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