If it is EDU-tainment you are after, look no further than the Brick History exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. This is the latest marvellous model show to arrive in town from the Warren Elsmore emporium – of Brick City fame – and features defining moments and discoveries on earth from the big bang right through to modern day.
Snapshots of history are presented in vibrant, multi-coloured 3D, arranged in themes such as Transport, War & Conflict, Exploration, Equality and the Arts – from intricately recreated scientific triumphs such as the double helix and smallpox vaccine (complete with little vials!), to terracotta warriors, Vesuvius, Concorde and the Titanic. Stars of the show are a 1.5m recreation of Rochester Castle – the real one dates back to 1088 with 12 ft thick walls. The Lego® ‘stonework’ is astonishing and the children loved spotting the different foods and animals in the outbuildings.
I loved the first silent movie theatre – the audience all in colour and the screen in black and white – with the intricate mechanics of its projection booth and the Hong Kong skyline, to mark the handover in 1997.
We also enjoyed hearing about some of the techniques involved from lead creative designer Guy Bagley, such as ‘bram sphere’ to create special plates for globes and ‘Studs Not on Top’ or (SNOT) for building models outwards, rather than upwards.
Guy had a hand in most of the models, as he says, he is ‘paid to play’ and has been designing Lego® models for more than 35 years, all over the world. All the models are made with unglued, standard Lego bricks, put together by human hand: “The only way you can tell if something looks right is by good old-fashioned human eye,” Guy said.
Opening the exhibition, he explained: “We hope children will be enticed by the models and may notice something that might spark their curiosity and make them want to go away and find out more. They might say ‘look mum, why is that lady chained to the railings?’ and it will prompt further discussion.
“We have 13m years of history going right back to the dinosaurs and everything in between.”
The three winning models in the museum’s Brick History competition are also on display, including a spectacular design of The Flying Scotsman from Alfie Hembrow-Forrester (5-11 category) – spot the hidden Homer Simpson! – Super Mario gaming figures from Roger Lewis (17+) and Mount Vesuvius erupting in Pompeii from Cal Adlard (12-16).
Cal was at the opening with his famous dad – comic laureate Charlie Adlard (of the Walking Dead comics) – and mum Lynette. Cal said: “I wanted to capture how much of Pompeii has been preserved after the eruption and also the perspective, with the big volcano looming in the background.”
Guy Bagley added: “We loved the black figure climbing out of the lava. We call him charcoal man.”
Get your Brick History tickets online to avoid the queues. You will be delighted, diverted, engrossed, occasionally startled – and you might even learn a thing or two. The kids won’t let you miss the huge LEGO® play zone on Level 2. My 9-year-old managed to balance on top of a 7ft Lego tower he built himself. Maybe don’t try that.
Brick History will be at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery until 15 April 2018. Admission £10 a family ticket (two adults and up to three children aged 5-17), or £7 family ticket (one adult and up to three children aged 5.17), or £4.50 adult, £2 child.
The March/April edition of My Shrewsbury is available now.
Made in 1851, this electrotype is a copy of a plaster model of the Moon’s surface centred on the crater Eratosthenes. Framed in a wooden case it was made by the amateur astronomer, Henry Blunt.
Henry Blunt (1806-1853) was a Chemist and Druggist in the family business on Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury. Charles Darwin and his brother Erasmus obtained chemicals and equipment from the Blunt family shop for experiments in their laboratory at The Mount.
As well as being an accomplished amateur astronomer, Blunt was a gifted artist and pioneering photographer.
The model is based on observations of the Moon made by Blunt with his reflecting telescope from his home at Shrewsbury. The main crater in the electrotype corresponds to a lunar feature 28 miles across (45 km). It was exhibited at the 1851 World Exhibition held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park and the model is described in the exhibition catalogue. It was later donated to the Science Museum by the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition where it is still on display today.
One of just a handful of surviving copies of the Crater Model is on display at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery having been kindly loaned to Shropshire Museums by one of Henry Blunt’s descendants.
Throughout 2018, we are offering reduced entry of £2 on the first Sunday of the month, also know as Sketchbook Sunday and the first one takes place on 4 February.
But how do you get entry for £2?
It’s simple, on the first Sunday of the month, bring your sketchbook with you when you visit us and show it to reception in the VIC!
What is Sketchbook Sunday?
Sketchbook Sunday is part of a wider project in collaboration with Shropshire Libraries Service.
Sketchbooks and journals are usually private; a place to make mistakes, work out ideas. We are very grateful to those who have already agreed to share their work in this form, with the county.
For more information about the wider project, click here.
– Those who present a sketchbook at the museum front desk on the 1st Sunday on the month gain a reduced entry price. £2 for adult and seniors, (no reduction in child tickets)
– Anyone who wishes to add to the communal sketchbooks dotted around the galleries are very welcome to. There’ll be a few art materials provided. Creatives are very welcome to work into their own sketchbooks; being inspired by the building, collection and other visitors
– The Hashtag for the those who wish to share their work produced during Sketchbook Sundays is #ShrewsSketchBookSundays
– Occasionally they’ll be loose optional themes to work to, the themes will be advertised within the communal sketchbooks and/or social media, and also to the sketchbook library e mailing list subscribers.
Come and hear different perspectives exploring the role of women in rural communities, from Land Girls to the contemporary WI. Featuring a panel of feminists, journalists, experts and writers on Rural Women at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery on 16 February, 7,30pm.
Chaired by local and national radio presenter Vicki Archer, the panel will discuss topics including the misconceptions around the roles that women have played in rural life and what it means to be rural women in the 21st century.
Agnes Greatorex, The Women’s Land Army, 1919 famously said:“I think the First World War did change women. Because once we’d had a taste we wouldn’t go back to service, we were free.”
The panel for the evening includes:
- Joan Bomford – Countryfile Farming Hero 2015 veteran farmer (Farming since the 1930s, still active at 85 on the farm, author of Up With The Lark: My Life on the Land)
- Kate Innes – Author and poet (trained in archaeology and museology, her books include ‘The Errant Hours’ set in Medieval Shropshire, and ‘Flocks of Words’ a collection of poetry about the rural mythic landscape)
- Polly Gibb – Director of WiRE – Women in Rural Enterprise, awarded OBE for services to rural enterprise, and one HRH Prince Charles’ 10 Heroes of the Countryside
- Sophie Motley – Pentabus Theatre Company’s Artistic Director (on behalf of playwright Matt Hartley, Here I Belong)
- Celia Rawlings – Chairman of Shropshire Federation of Women’s Institutes
- Amanda Jones – Founder of Shropshire Supports Refugees.
Each of the speakers will present for up to 10 minutes, followed by a group discussion and an opportunity for questions from the audience – we’d love to hear from as many of you as possible, including men!
The evening will also include Pentabus Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Sophie Motley discussing the inspiration behind Matt Hartley’s new play, Here I Belong which was commissioned by Pentabus Theatre Company and shall be re-touring nationally during Spring 2018 due to high demand.
Tickets cost £10 for adults and £7 concessions and can be purchased by following this link.
2018 is set to get off to a thrilling start at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery with the arrival of Lego: Brick History in February 2018.
Opening on Friday 9 February, Lego: Brick History takes you on a journey through pivotal moments in world history, modelled in Lego® bricks.
Experience historical moments and periods from Mozart to Martin Luther King, scientific discoveries from the Big Bang to DNA and recent history from mobile phones to the moon landings.
Here is a sneak preview of Lego: Brick History brought to life…
This exhibition has something for people of all ages. From tiny recreations of Concorde and Titanic that would sit in your hand, to a 1.5m square castle bustling with activity in periods of both piece and war, there is something for all to be amazed by and to admire.
Children and adults alike are sure to be inspired by this exhibition and eager to build their own LEGO® models.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council cabinet member for culture and leisure, said:
“LEGO was a hugley popular exhibition when it visited in 2015 with over 14,000 people visiting the Museum during its’ five week stay, so it’s fantastic that it is returning.
“Brick History has something that people of all ages can enjoy. Young and old will have an affinity with LEGO bricks, whether it be those who enjoy building with them now, or those who have fond memories of building the most epic of models back in the day. I can’t wait for this incredibly exciting exhibition to open.”
Warren Ellsmore, creator of Brick History, said:
“We’re all very excited here to be coming back to Shrewsbury after the success of Brick City. Brick History is one of our brand new exhibitions and has proved to be hugely popular since it opened in Newcastle just last year. Trying to reflect the whole history of the world in LEGO bricks was a challenge, especially as we decided to focus on perhaps some of lesser known heroes and landmarks of the past – some of which are still very close to Shrewsbury!”
Bringing a sense of community into Lego: Brick History, this exhibition will feature the models created by our 3 ‘Build your own model’ competition winners!
LEGO: Brick History will be at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery from 9 February – 15 April 2018.
To find out more about Warren Elsmore and his touring LEGO© bricks exhibitions, visit http://warrenelsmore.com/brickhistory/.
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery is delighted to be hosting two performances of the acclaimed play, Music for Dogs in January 2018.
‘A funny and moving account of how one woman accidentally makes a fortune’
Music for Dogs is a black comedy written by award-winning Irish poet and playwright Paula Meehan and performed by Irish actress Carol Caffrey and is set during Ireland’s Celtic Tiger years.
The action takes place on Dublin’s Burrow Beach as a woman, Jane MacDonald, records a message for her estranged brother and sister. Janey’s story describes the very funny – if somewhat dubious – means by which she came to make the fortune she is leaving to her siblings. Though the context of Janey’s personal tragedy is a dark one, her essential humanity and joy in life are very much to the fore.
The performances will be on:
Friday 12 January 2018 @ 1.10pm – 1.50pm
Saturday 13 January 2018 @ 1.10pm – 1.50pm
What have others said about ‘Music for Dogs’?
“Music for Dogs is absolutely riveting… The script is so poetic… Carol Caffrey is brilliant… It’s the best kind of play… great writing and wonderful performing.” BBC Radio Scotland
“Music for Dogs – a moving and powerful piece of theatre” – Irish Post
“Music for Dogs is a great, well-written piece… with a revealing poetic narrative. At times very funny at others sad, I had tears in my eyes… Carol Caffrey is a consummate actor. I highly recommend it.” Wendy Thomson, Female Arts
For more information about Music for Dogs, click here.
See What’s On at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery in 2018!
Pentabus Theatre Company is delighted to be hosting An Evening on Rural Women chaired by local and national presenter and writer, Vicki Archer.
The event will be held at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery on Friday 16 February 2018 from 7.30pm.
The evening will explore the role of women in rural communities, from Land Girls to the contemporary WI and features a panel of feminists, journalists, experts and writers.
Attendees will also be able to discuss the inspiration behind, Here I Belong, which due to demand will be re-touring nationally this spring 2018.
Tickets cost £10 for adults and £7 concessions and can be purchased by following this link.
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery will be throwing open its doors for free to National Lottery players from 12 – 17 December 2017. They are joining participating National Lottery funded visitor attractions across the UK in saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket.
The idea is simple: any visitor who presents a National Lottery ticket or scratchcard from Monday 12 – Sunday 17 December 2017 gets free entry in return.
Proof of ticket can be paper or digital. Date of draw/purchase is not relevant.
This offer of free entry is valid from Monday 12 – Sunday 17 December 2017 only and covers all tickets.
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery have the right to refuse entry in the unlikely event of venue reaching capacity, as well as unforeseen circumstances.
Perfect for families and history lovers alike, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery allows you to explore millions of years of history through over one thousand remarkable objects as well as the current special exhibition, Samurai: Warriors of Japan.
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery received £999,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money paid for development officers during the restoration, collections management facilities and temporary exhibition spaces.
Students from Severndale Specialist Academy have been working with staff from Shrewsbury Museum since early September, to put together displays and exhibitions for the Kids in Museum Takeover Day 2017. They spent weeks creating the artworks displayed in their own exhibition for the day all based around World War II, from poppies to aeroplanes, gas masks and toys of the day. Professionally and enthusiastically they talked to members of the public about their displays.
Fay Bailey, Learning and Communications Manager at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, said:
“We were thrilled to have the opportunity to hand-over the museum to such a talented group of students from Severndale, Wilfred Owen and Severndale at Mary Webb Schools. The children’s’ infectious enthusiasm and warmth made Kids in Museums Takeover Day a truly wonderful experience for our staff, volunteers and visitors. We can’t wait for next year!”
The students also led the Mini Mammoth’s story and crafts session, together with a group of students from Wilfred Owen Primary School. Together they read The Owl Babies to the weekly Mini Mammoth’s babies and toddlers and continued with a craft session afterwards to make lots of fun things including owl masks for the children to take home. The pupils said, “The story telling was amazing I want to do it again and be a story teller when I’m older. We helped the little ones to talk and sign better.”
One of the parents said that “I was at the museum today with my daughter for her weekly Mini Mammoths session, it was a ‘takeover’ day so there were many pupils from Severndale involved in our session and helping out throughout the museum, and it was fabulous! They were all a huge credit to the school!! On leaving we visited the exhibition that was put on by some of the pupils in the balcony room and were actually taken around the exhibition by one of the students, and he was brilliant! His enthusiasm and understanding was superb!! He was telling me all about the war, poppies and spitfires and showing my child the pictures close up so that she could enjoy them too and explaining the background behind the artwork etc. It was truly impressive.”
Members of the public said, “I’d like to say what a delight all the children at the museum were. They opened the doors for us into the café, and gave us leaflets and explained about the exhibition upstairs. We took advantage of this offer and went to the exhibition. All the children greeted us warmly and explained about the exhibits. Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, thank you.”
Others helped in the shop putting leaflets and gifts out on display and also giving help and advice at the reception desk. Some were meeting and greeting the public and pointing them in the right direction of the displays they wanted to visit.
Jayne Woodhouse, Teacher at Severndale, said:
“The students had an amazingly positive experience which has raised their confidence and self-esteem. We have been able to do this by working with the staff at the museum whose belief in our children has empowered us and the children to take on this challenge. Together with our friends at Wilfred Owen, we were able to make the day the great success that it was.”
When the pupils were asked if they had a wonderful time, they said:
“It’s been a huge success, we showed them a lot of good stuff and they know we are a good school and we can have a brighter future together.”
Sonya Jones, Teaching Assistant from Wilfred Owen School, commented:
“Some children have been working in collaboration with students from Severndale on a performance and song from the wonderful story ‘Owl Babies’ by Martin Waddell. The children used singing and storytelling activities to entertain young children during a parent and baby group at the Shrewsbury Museum on Friday morning. The activities were a great success and children from both schools developed lasting friendships.”
Students and their families from Severndale also visited the exhibition at the weekend and enjoyed all the displays, thank you for supporting us.
Click here for more information about the Learning Programme at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
The plight of the Passenger Pigeon: How Museum collections are helping us to better understand their Story
Sat in Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, surrounded by other natural history specimens, is a small pink and grey passenger pigeon on a branch. She is just one of many creatures in the museum’s collection that can now only been seen in books or museum showcases. Like many museums worldwide, Shropshire Museums ensures that specimens like her survive as both a reminder of our impact upon the environment but also a vital resource for future research.
The passenger pigeon was once the most abundant bird in North America and possibly the world. A single flock could contain more than a billion birds. John James Audubon, awed by the spectacle of passenger pigeons in Kentucky in the fall of 1813, writing that “the light of noonday was obscured as by an eclipse; the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose.” As mass shooting for sport and food reduced their numbers, museums collected examples to illustrate their plight. Today, scientists are still trying to answer the question as to how they became extinct so quickly.
A new study of the passenger pigeon’s genome, published recently in the journal Science, outlines new research into this puzzle. This recent investigation suggests that passenger pigeon populations were stable for thousands of years, even during periods of dramatic climate change. Studies of small samples taken from museum specimens have found that the pigeon population, although huge, lacked genetic diversity. The study concluded that much of the bird’s genetic code shows signs of strong natural selection, but very little evidence of ongoing small genetic changes that would help it to adapt if the ecosystem changed.
“Our mass murder of them over the course of decades was just too fast for their evolution to keep up,” said Beth Shapiro, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC-Santa Cruz and one of the paper’s co-authors.
It is therefore no wonder that Shropshire’s Passenger Pigeon is looked down upon rather wistfully by a portrait of Charles Darwin, who first fully published the process of evolution. Her, like many other specimens cared for by generations of museum curators, is all science have left to understand her species’ story.