Good news for museum lovers. The school summer holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean we are done with the visiting season.
In fact, September and October are usually busy months for Suffolk’s plethora of museums, many of which are small and volunteer-run.
And it won’t be long before we find out which of them will be receiving this year’s countywide museum awards – including the prestigious title of Suffolk Museum of the Year.
With more than 30 contenders in the mix, the judges face a tough job deciding on the shortlist. They range from some of the tiniest and quirkiest museums in the county, to some of the largest and busiest.
Each has its own individual charms and points of interest and fascination, so what the judges will look for initially is evidence of how well they communicate this to their visitors, and, particularly in the case of the Family Friendly Museum of the Year Award, what everyone gains from the experience.
If you want to influence the decision there is still time to get an email to firstname.lastname@example.org telling us about your favourite museum in Suffolk.
Still to come…
A good number of local museums will be staging free events or extending their opening hours as part of the coming Heritage Open Days weekend (Sept 9 &10)
For instance, on Saturday afternoon you can explore The Red House in Aldeburgh for free and find out more about the collections, the house and the gardens. On Sunday, Leiston’s Long Shop Museum will be offering tours with a difference – including engines in steam and tea on tap.
There’s a chance to experience a Medieval way of life at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village and, weather permitting, a rare opportunity to admire the view of Bury St Edmunds from the roof of the Suffolk Regiment Museum at The Keep, Out Risbygate.
Other museums taking part in various ways include Felixstowe (at Landguard Point), Halesworth (at the town’s Railway Station); Haverhill & District Local History Group with Haverhill Arts Centre; Ipswich Museum & Christchurch Mansion; Lowestoft Museum (in Nicholas Everitt Park, Oulton Broad); the Mincarlo fishing trawler at Lowestoft’s Heritage Quay , and the Royal Naval Patrol Service Museum at Sparrows Nest, Whapload Road, Lowestoft.
In Sudbury, as well as visiting Gainsborough’s House Museum and print workshop you can get a glimpse inside Buzzards Hall, Friar Street (now a restaurant) where the artist’s uncle once lived. And at the Town Hall you will find plenty of interest at the engaging and newly refurbished Sudbury Heritage Centre (not normally open on a Saturday) with the added bonus of an exhibition of silk wall hangings woven by local mills in the grand Assembly Room upstairs. Nearby Lavenham, Little Hall house and garden is also welcoming Heritage Open Day visitors. Check out all the details and opening times at www.heritageopendays.org.uk
And looking further ahead…
There’s still time to catch the touring “Clangers, Bagpuss & Co” exhibition at Ipswich Art Gallery, next door to Ipswich Museum. The free exhibition, which comes from the V&A Museum of Childhood, is a small celebration of the wonderful world of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, who together made up Small Films. The “& Co” embraces all other childhood TV favourites such as Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog and the Pogles of Pogles Wood.
Anyone who remembers these characters will be consumed by nostalgia, while those of a later computer generated and digitally enhanced generation will be left to marvel that so much could be done with simple stop-go animation. Who knew (spoiler alert) that Bagpuss was intended to be a much more conventional ginger striped cat and ended up pink by accident? (On until October 29th, closed on Mondays).
And Ipswich Transport Museum will be holding its own Classic Vehicles Day on October 7th, closely followed by its popular Wheels by (hundreds of old paraffin and oil) Lamplight on October 21st.
Roll on the half-term!