IF you are still looking for things to do in the holidays, here’s something that works in pretty much all weathers (and with all ages) – visit a museum.
Don’t let on to any children who think their brains are entirely on holiday until September, but they are places that are pretty much guaranteed to stimulate a bit of informal, out of school learning. Museums are also a great way to get different generations to interact with each other, and the chances are that it won’t just be the youngest visitors who find out something they didn’t previously know.
It can be hard to exactly determine exactly what makes a good museum but one of the measures is definitely family friendliness It is for that reason we introduced the Suffolk Museum Family Friendly Award (which last year went to the Long Shop Museum in Leiston, where, true to form, they are running some intriguing workshops on medicine and science, as well as providing dressing up opportunities and a free trail for every day family visits). This year they have some stiff opposition on their hands, with no fewer than 30 museums across the county taking part in Summer in Suffolk Museums and providing a range of activities throughout the school holidays.
Every year we recognise and celebrate the effort that goes into looking after our local history and heritage by running the Awards and offering a special accolade to those museums which excel. Currently it is Southwold Museum which holds the overall title of Suffolk’s 2016 Museum of the Year, proving you don’t always need to be among the biggest to be among the best. This little local and social history museum is housed in a pair of converted cottages and has worked hard to continually upgrade and improve its displays, embracing all the different aspects of the town’s history. Into this is woven local stories and interactive things for visitors to enjoy – from finding out about fossils, to dressing up or simply being able to open up lots of drawers! Run by volunteers, as so many small museums in Suffolk are, it is also free to visit (although donations are always gratefully received).
Arguably, all anyone really needs to enjoy a museum is curiosity, but lots of them also offer ideas for children to discover and do on the way round. You can go searching for cats at Lavenham Little Hall, mice at the Living Tide Mill in Woodbridge, owls (or and comic characters) at Felixstowe Museum and aliens at Bentwaters Cold War Museum! There are pirates lurking at Halesworth Museum and pirate treasure to find at Moyse’s Hall in Bury St Edmunds. Woolpit’s tiny little museum gives its youngest visitors the task of looking for a character named Rosie, while their older brothers and sisters are challenged to count different things, including the number of Woolpit Whites (a type of brick!) they can see.
The Red House in Aldeburgh offers a different activity every Tuesday or Thursday afternoon (and invites you to bring your own picnic to eat in the lovely garden of composer Benjamin Britten’s former home). Thursdays are also when West Stow Anglo Saxon Village puts on additional special activities and when Dunwich Museum holds its Medieval discovery days.
The Summer in Suffolk Museums programme gives all the details and is available to download here at http://bit.ly/SuffolkSummer2017