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Great 'Free UK Museums & Galleries' Hunt

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  • The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is a great place to visit.
  • Artworks-mk is an arts and education charity focused on contemporary craft and art, based in Milton Keynes they offer a free programme of exhibitions and events within the Barn Exhibition Space. The exhibition space is part of the Great Linford Arts Workshop and is set within the beautiful heritage grounds of Linford Manor Park alongside the Grand Union Canal and lots of cycle paths. The organisation also run a programme of paid for adult and young peoples workshops.

    Milton Keynes Museum and Milton Keynes Gallery also offer free access and are within easy reach.

    for details see artworks-mk.co.uk
  • A great free to all museum in Bournemouth on the south coast is the Russell Coates Museum
    Just google the above and enjoy the day.
    Really recommend on a day when the beach has lost it's attraction.
    They do meals at reasonable prices and run stuff for the kids to do.
  • The Ulster Museum in Belfast's Botanic Gardens has recently re-opened after a two year closure & £17M investment.

    I have to say that it's hard to see where the money has gone. It didn't get a fantastic reaction from my kids, and it didn't for me have any great 'wow' factor for a brand new exhibition. However it is bright, airy & free, so if you're a local or city break visitor it could fill a couple of hours on a quiet weekend or a rainy day.
  • Several people have mentioned varions places in Manchester, but no-one has mentioned the Manchester Art Gallery Their permanent collection is free and very good indeed; I am particularly fond of their pre-Raphelite stuff, and there are a few very interesting pieces in the modern art section, as well as (currently) a very moving series of prints by Goya from the Peninsula war.. There is also the craft and design wing if that's more your cup of tea (and they have a selection of interesting cups from which you might drink it). The staff are always friendly and usually knowledegable. Its basically between the town hall (an utterly ridiculous Victorian Gothic building - you can't miss it) and Chinatown, so very central.

    There is also the Whitworth Art Gallery down Oxford Road (keep going past the museum) - its farily small, but pretty good, and if its a nice day you can go and have a picnic in the park next to it, or wander on down the curry mile for some interswting sights and smells, but be careful - if you do that at the wrong (or maybe right) time you might fond your self enticed into a curry house for a not very cheap but (depending on the restraunt in question) potentially very good curry.

    I also cannot say enough to reccomend the Tate Liverpool on Albert Dock, as well as of course the various galleries in London, not least the National Gallery and the Tate Britain (The Tate Modern is also good, but I prefer the Tate Britain, if only for Turner!). The British Museum is also an absolute must if you have an interest in.... well..... almost anything really - you could spend a week in there and still not see it all!

    All of these ask for a donation if you think they're worth it (I do) but none of them are pushy about it (simply a large box with a slot in the top on the way in) and you don't have to. They also all frequently have displays which you do have to pay to go into, but there is enough to keep you busy for at least an afternoon without doing so. Also, they all have cafes on site, which are usually pretty good but very expensive - you are better off going round the corner and finding somewhere else if you need a cup of tea or a pint to recover from that much culture! Go to any or all of them - you won't regret it (unless your head explodes...)

    Loz
  • LinnygLinnyg Forumite
    43 posts
    Colchester has three free museums all very close together in the town centre, so you can visit one or more depending on how much time you have.

    The biggest is Hollytrees museum set in the attractive Castle Park, which is a three story Georgian house with displays on history and local history. Lots for children, including interactive exhibits, dolls houses and toy exhibition.

    The Natural History museum is set in a church building and the graveyard is maintained as a wildlife habitat. Much of it is aimed specifically at children.

    The Tymplerleys clock museum is more suited to adults; it is a good place to wander around for an hour or so, although it is shut over the winter.

    There is also the free Minories art gallery although I have yet to visit this.

    More info here:
    http://www.visitcolchester.com/thedms.asp?dms=11&catid=14
  • edited 4 November 2009 at 9:37PM
    JAFJAF Forumite
    7 posts
    edited 4 November 2009 at 9:37PM
    Another vote for the Horniman Museum, in South London, especially the aquarium. Until the end of the month they have a wonderful display of white spot jellyfish which they have reared.
  • http://www.stockwooddiscoverycentre.co.uk/

    Well worth a visit, great exhibitions, large play area for children, super cafe all set in the huge Stockwood Park which is looking wonderful in the Autumn.
  • We've been twice to the recently reopened Ulster Museum in Belfast. Both times my kids, aged 4 & 8 loved it. There are at least 3 interactive rooms: in the nature room they can hold an elephants tooth, touch many animals including skulls, horns, tusks and even an elephants tail. There are hundred of samples of spiders, scorpians, beetles & butterflies. In another interactive room they can play with toys from the past, try on Victorian clothes, see & touch clogs, old fashion shoes & old books. The third interactive room is for arts & crafts and in that the kids are encouraged to do their interpretation of the works in the main art exhibition. There are thousands of things to see, including the 'Mummy' Takabuti, wonderful art exhibitions, dinosaurs, old cars and history specific to Northern Ireland's troubled past, if your interested.

    All around there are little stools to ensure small children can see into display cases and the staff are wonderful. Several times they came over unprompted to help my children try on clothes or operate a toy from the past and in the nature room they told us to just ask if we wanted anything lifted down that was out of reach. The real emphasis is on history being interesting and hands on rather than the dusty 'look but don't touch' experience I remember from being taken to museums as a child.

    Obviously there are some things that have to be in cases but a lot of thought has been put in to making a visit attractive to as many age groups as possible.

    There's also a great coffee bar that does scones & traybakes and a snack bar that does light meals (I think).

    The kids only saw about 20% of the museum on our two visits & I'm looking forward to spending many more wet afternoons there. It's in Botantic Gardens so on a good day we can enjoy the park and nip in for coffee or a snack.

    It's free, interesting & educational -for everyone. I would highly recommend it.

    Pamela
  • You should try the FAST museum in Farnborough. Hampshire. It is open and free at weekends. Details at the FAST website. (You can find it by Googling 'fast museum farnborough' but I'm not allowed to post the link.

    FAST is the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust and the museum houses an extensive collection of historical aircraft, engines and aerospace memorabilia related to the former Royal Aircaft establishment (RAE). Exhibits go right back to the beginnings of flying in the UK including a recently built, full-size replica of the Cody flyer, the first UK manned aircraft.
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