The best museum I have visited in a very long time
|Middle-class Victorian parlour|
Earlier this year we went to London for the launch of MiMi Aye's cookbook, Noodle! We had time to kill the following morning, so visited the Museum of London. I have come to love London, but the Museum of London didn't really grab me. Obviously it's a major city with a history predating the Romans, and that's a lot of history to fit into one location, so the displays on each separate period are fairly limited. On top of that, other London attractions and museums, such as the Tower of London and the V and A, have lots of major items relating to London's history in their collections, there's no centralised 'everything in one place' collection for London.
York is another city with a history that predates the Romans, but rather sensibly they don't try to cram everything in. Jorvik, nearby, does a superb job of telling the history of Viking York, and because York's mediaeval streets, walls and buildings are rather more complete than London's, you're able to find more about that period in other places in the city. York Castle Museum concentrates mainly on the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and does a really good job of it. Moreover, it mixes historical artefacts with interactive elements in a brilliant way, so it's engaging for kids yet still fascinating and deep enough for adults too.
|1950s living room, ready for a birthday party|
|1940s suburban kitchen|
|Stunning fabric on a silver 1930s wedding dress|
|Victorian back street. Non-Victorian fire exit sign!|
|Part of the Victorian street - there's more through the archway|
|Another corner of the Victorian street. Genuine relocated shop fronts.|
|Inside the chemist's|
There's a 1960s street after that, but after the Victorian one it's a bit disappointing, and I suspect serious fans of the decade would want something a bit deeper. I know I did. Whether you like the style of the 1960s or not, it was a decade of massive social and cultural change, and there wasn't really space to convey the era.
After the 1960s street there are the dungeons. Audio-visual material is used well there. Because the cells have blank white walls, actors telling the stories of real prisoners are projected onto them, and it's a really interesting way to see the history of crime and punishment in York. Finally, you exit through the gift shop.
If you're in York, I really recommend a trip to the Castle Museum.
The first three photos are mine, copyright Miriam McDonald, the others are all copyright PP Gettins