Loughborough Echo

History on our doorstep


Visitors to the Midlands can be lost in centuries of history. And people living here know the value of many of the region’s museums and art galleries. The Midlands was the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution but it is also a place steeped in culture that many people pass over. But they would be depriving themselves of a wealth of venues that not only educate but inspire and excite too. Here is a snapshot of just some of those which families can enjoy. Check details of the venues before you leave as restrictio­ns may be in place. Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

If it’s top-notch art you’re after then look no further. A wealth of famous names feature inside the walls of this University of Birmingham-centred gallery. There are names here which even those with least amount of art knowledge know, and paintings to please everyone.

From Degas to Delacroix, Van Dyke to Van Gogh, Rodin to Rubens, Poussin to Picasso, this is one of the most outstandin­g and internatio­nally significan­t collection­s assembled in Britain.

The Barber is also home to more than 800 drawings and prints, sculpture, decorative art and portrait miniatures and has one of the finest collection­s of Roman, Byzantine and Medieval coins in the world.

Black Country Living Museum

What? You haven’t been to the Black Country Living Museum? This is more than just a museum, this brings the story of the area to life.

The area first emerged in the 1830s when the landscape was being transforme­d through Thomas Dudley’s ground-breaking techniques into an industrial one. It would eventually lead the world in innovation before it fell behind.

Now it is a 26-acre open-air museum illustrati­ng life for those people living here during this time.

Where once there was “nothing and nobody” now there is a village and “charismati­c residents” to chat with, trams to ride, games to play and stories to here.

IKON, Birmingham

If you fancy something a little bit more avant-garde then you might want to head to Brindley Place and expand your mind at the internatio­nallyart gallery IKON.

This is the gallery which started life as a small space but now allows Birmingham to dominate the contempora­ry cultural landscape.

Previous artists have who have had solo shows include Antony Gormley, Olafur Eliasson, Simon Patterson, Richard Billingham and Julian Opie, all artists whose names are known across the world.

King Richard III Centre, Leicester

In 1485 an ill-fated English monarch wanted to trade a horse for his kingdom before he was slain on the battlefiel­d, or so Shakespear­e would have us believe.

More than 500 years later and Richard III’s remains were unearthed in a Leicester city centre car park.

With the remains of the king lying across the road in the cathedral, people are flocking to the museum and exhibition centre to discover more the truth about Richard III and how is body was discovered.

The King Richard III Visitor Centre is one of the driving factors in

Leicester’s recent rejuvenati­on.

National Space Centre, Leicester

For those who have their heads way, way, way above the clouds then this is the place for you.

Leicester is a world-renowned centre for the exploratio­n of space science and astronomy.

Regularly putting on events to entice science buffs this is the only place in the country that houses a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Families can also get beyond the exhibits with events such as the annual Star Wars Day when Darth Vader and an Imperial garrison take over the space centre. Blast them!

Compton Verney, Cotswolds

Housed in a Grade 1-listed Robert Adam mansion set in 120 acres of landscaped parkland, designed by “Capability” Brown, it houses art from around the world.

Six permanent collection­s include the Golden Age of art from Naples, Northern European paintings and sculpture from 1450 to 1650, portraits by British artists including Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Tudor figures, and the most extensive collection of Chinese bronzes outside London.

And there are activities throughout the year to entertain the whole family.

Herbert Gallery, Coventry

Perhaps not given the praise it deserves is Coventry’s answer to contempora­ry art.

With a few artworks by Old Masters, this gallery is better known for its 20th century British artists as well as views of Coventry and Warwickshi­re stretching back over the past 200 years.

More recently it has focused on contempora­ry art soculso you can expect to see works by Cornelia Parker and Mona Hatoum.

The museum is just a short walk from the shops.

One of the exhibition­s on at the moment is entitled Courtaulds in Coventry.

New Art Gallery, Walsall

If it is big names from the world of contempora­ry art you’re after, then you might want to think about visiting this institutio­n.

Anish Kapoor, Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Yayoi Kusama, Sarah Lucas, Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst they’ve all had work shown here.

And it’s acquisitio­n of the Garman Ryan Collection only adds to its pedigree.

Thinktank Science Museum, Birmingham

Before the internet came along,

before the car, there was the steam engine and Thinktank houses the oldest working engine in the world.

Designed and built by James Watt in 1779 and in use until 1891, the Smethwick Engine is one of dozens of exhibits at Birmingham’s Curzon Street.

Any budding scientist can feel right at home at this award-winning museum with over 200 hands on displays in the field of science and technology from the past, present and future.

Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham

This free gallery is named after the geologist Charles Lapworth and allows visitors to explore life over the past 3.5 billion years.

The museum reopened in 2016 following a £2.7 million redevelopm­ent project which showcases not just rocks and fossils but dinosaurs and shows how volcanoes and earthquake­s created our world.

Abbey Pumping Station, Leicester

The city has a few popular and well-known museums and attraction­s from the space centre to the Richard III centre.

But one of the best is Abbey Pumping Station which is Leicester’s Museum of Science and Technology displaying the city’s industrial, technologi­cal and scientific heritage.

Situated adjacent to the National Space Centre, the attraction helps to tell the story of more than 200 years of science and technology from the early days of steam and industry.

New Walk Museum, Leicester

This is a fab museum which has free entry.

Leicester’s original museum has wide ranging collection­s and displays spanning the natural and culso

tural world.

A family friendly day-out, the galleries include Ancient Egypt, The Dinosaur Gallery, Wild Space, World Arts and The Victorian Art Gallery as well as others. They also have a special gallery for under-fives called The Den.

Retro Computer Museum, Leicester

This is a blast from the past for parents and an eye-opener for youngsters.

The museum, at Unit A, Troon Way Business Centre, Humberston­e Lane in Leicester, gives people a chance to try out a host of old computer consoles and PCs, taking you back in time to the days of Sega and Nintendo and ZX Spectrum, Commodore

64s and Amigas.

A spokespers­on said: “Our main focus is on systems that were in use in the home, rather than big computer systems and mainframes of early computer developmen­t.

“We have systems ranging from the 1970s - such as Binatone Pong and of course the amazing Commodore Pet right up to the lovely delights of the late 1990s - with systems such as the Sega Dreamcast.

“Along with the fantastic and varied machines of the 1980s too we have a huge collection of retro gaming goodness.”

The museum is not open every day so check their website for details and costs.

Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery houses collection­s that bring together the identities that went into forming the area known as the Potteries. The museum’s collection of Staffordsh­ire pottery is widely acknowledg­ed as the finest in the world and other collection­s of fine and decorative arts, natural science, social history and archaeolog­y have local, regional and national significan­ce. The museum’s collection­s, totalling more than 650,000 individual objects, are designated collection­s. The museum is also now home to a number of artefacts from the Staffordsh­ire Hoard.

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 ??  ?? The Spitfire Mark IX hanging from the Thinktank ceiling.
The Spitfire Mark IX hanging from the Thinktank ceiling.
 ??  ?? 1930s street at the Black Country Living Museum
1930s street at the Black Country Living Museum
 ??  ?? Compton Verney
Compton Verney
 ??  ?? New Walk Museum, Leicester
New Walk Museum, Leicester
 ??  ?? Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

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