Warrington Museum and Art Gallery.

When we finally settled on a trip to Warrington Museum with the children, I didn't know what to expect. Sometimes museums are a bit of ...

When we finally settled on a trip to Warrington Museum with the children, I didn't know what to expect. Sometimes museums are a bit of a miss with me as I just don't engage with them - and the children aren't much different. I didn't look at the website before I left the house and presumed it was going to be a dowdy walk around a museum dedicated to the various trades and specialities of Warrington. Not a bad thing, but.. Not really my thing either.

Boy was I wrong.

This museum wasn't all dreary trade information and local history - thankfully for me!
The unassuming building is nestled into the cultural quarter of Warrington, we did get a little lost trying to find it due to the one way system but we soon found a parking space almost next door to it before venturing inside.

The huge red brick building doesn't really look out of place in the cultural quarter.
One thing I've noticed since moving to this side of the Pennines is the red brick that makes up the towns and cities here. In Yorkshire, its very much stone based - here it is a little bit of a shock to the system to see huge buildings made of red brick everywhere the eye can see!

The museum is spread over a number of levels, although it is completely accessible as every floor has a lift.
As you can see, the entrance hall is very impressive. While I haven't included photographs of everything as I do want to save a few surprises for visitors, we were all taken aback as we entered. Huge marble statues welcome you in, and the size of the museum itself does start to sink in. Its worth mentioning that lifts make the whole museum accessible for those who need it, which is a refreshing change for such an old building.

The first room we entered was certainly an eye opener.
The staff are incredibly friendly and attentive, pointing you in the right direction when you arrive at the first landing. The museum is very much a free roaming area, so you can decide which way you'd like to go and follow your own route. There is a lot to take in when you wander the rooms, as we had two children who were aware of some of the items being a little.. Kooky and mysterious, we didn't have chance to really soak in each and every item. Its on our agenda to come back and really invest some time into each room (except one, I'll get to that later.)

Me, completely enthralled in the first person my eyes settled on when we entered.
Of course, I had to read more about one of the centrepieces of the room. A Mummy. What struck me firstly, was how small the Mummy itself was - I presumed it was a replica and was there to show how the full sized versions looked. How I was wrong. The Mummy is a fourteen year old boy. The images I was looking at were x-rays that the museum had done, to really see what was inside the wrappings and they weren't to be disappointed. It was a very surreal and poignant moment to stand in front of a pedestal in front of such an incredible piece of history.

A display case dedicated to various whalebone artifacts and tools used by the Inuit.
This case was dedicated to Egypt and snippets about the Book of the Dead.
As you can likely tell, the vast collection of items (over 200,000) is very eclectic and I'm barely even scraping the tip of the iceberg with what I'm sharing with you here. These are just the pieces that really stood out to me, although there are plenty that you need to go see in person - the mermaid was a revelation to little Miss!

One of the interactive areas provided that were a huge hit with our children!
These areas encouraged children to touch, wear and play with certain items allowing them to satiate their curiosity without damaging anything!
I really do advocate interactive areas in museums, and Warrington Museum have executed this perfectly. There was colouring and activity pages with pens and pencils, more practical items such as the armour above with a variety of helmets children could try on, and more sensory based material swatches which dissuaded people from touching statues and damaging them. It was absolutely fantastic. Another huge nod goes to the drawers featuring in exhibits, allowing little Miss to run around opening each one learning about what was inside - really engaging for children and a fantastic idea!

A child's gas mask on display during the armoury exhibit.
Uniforms and various military related items lined these display cases.
The armoury room allowed us a little more time to investigate thanks to the children being occupied trying armour on and colouring in, so it was nice to take a little more in. We weren't the only ones in the room and it didn't feel constricted, even with another family of four wandering the room.

The geology room was impressive, a scale model of 'The Warrington Dinosaur' overseeing everything.
Into the fossil room - this hoard of Ammonites is incredibly impressive!
A beautiful 'slice' of an Ammonite fossil showing each section of shell.
Thefossil room was a favourite for me - not only were there lots of fossils, dinosaur footprints and geological anomalies on display it was filled with gems and crystals too. Again, drawers were available for the children to pull out and investigate which were filled with things to touch and play with - I can't stress how much this engaged our youngsters.

'The Warrington Dinosaur.'
Yes, Warrington has its own dinosaur! From what I read, footprints were found in hand-like shapes in local quarries, and it caused quite a stir. It was all found to come from a creature similar to this, so he features quite heavily in the folklore around Warrington. A button allowed us to listen to a snippet about it, as well as hear what it sounded like - a hit with the little ones.

No matter where you looked, something was there to investigate and read about!
A view down into the first room, with the fourteen year old Mummy.
At this point, I have to confess I did have a little bit of a panic attack. You see, this room was filled with fish. I have a very irrational phobia of fish, and as soon as I saw the first sliver of wall with one or two of them I knew I couldn't go ahead. I tried! Mike even tried to lead me through the room with closed eyes, but then the tears came and I couldn't. Fight or flight takes over when this happens, and I either feel my chest tighten and pass out or.. Well, other unsavoury reactions, which I can't control. So I missed this room and wandered back down to the stairs by exploring the art galleries. Thankfully a staff member was able to direct me around this room so it could be missed and I re-joined my family on the other side.

The upper gallery I escaped to, in order to calm myself down. This was filled with some gorgeous, modern art.
Downstairs, older pieces of art on huge canvases were in pride of place.
These pictures were strictly a 'do not touch' exhibit!
The oil painting gallery was a sight to behold - the canvases were so big they took up most of the wall, and the bits that weren't taken up by the artwork were taken up by the extravagant frames. These were all displayed behind roped off areas, as oil paintings are incredibly delicate and can be damaged by the sweat from fingers.

It wasn't all about art on walls however, cabinets displayed some ornate pieces like this urn allowing you to have a real close look.
Marble statues were also on display - with a sensory, tactile option of a piece of marble you can touch instead of people going ahead and touching the statues themselves. I was glad of this because little Miss is very tactile and likes to touch, so it gave her that opportunity without me having to explain how her fingers could damage things!

I can't stress to you enough how much there is in this museum. I've barely even scratched the surface! You need to go have a wander and immerse yourself there to truly appreciate the scale of how amazing it is. Obviously, I haven't shared each and every room and I didn't share some of the more interesting pieces, because as its a free exhibition I want people to go visit. Please, if its one thing you do during summer with the children - get yourself to Warrington Museum!

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She & Life: Warrington Museum and Art Gallery.
Warrington Museum and Art Gallery.
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She & Life
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