The school holidays are when many of the county’s museums make a special effort to welcome summer visitors with a variety of things that will appeal to different age-groups and keep them entertained!
There are lots of local museums in Suffolk (more than 60 at the last count), each with its own perspective on the county’s rich heritage. You will find them in moot halls, military establishments, Tudor mansion, tall castles and tiny cottages. There’s a museum in a working tide mill, a lifeboat shed, a reconstructed railway, a Victorian factory and even a Palace. Newmarket’s newly-opened National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art showcases its unique collections next door to a stable yard with its own living, breathing horses.
There are over 100 events and activities to choose from this in museums in Suffolk this summer, so visitors really are spoiled for choice!
Highlights include the popular Mud, Bugs and Baking sessions at the Museum of East Anglian Life, where you can have a go at firing a mini catapult or unleashing your inner Robin Hood with some family-friendly archery sessions. The museum’s weekly Wednesday Toddler Time sessions for under 5’s will also run throughout the summer holidays, so why not drop in for some Toddler yoga or a wellywalk? Budding explorers can pioneer their summer holidays with a new Boffin Trail at Bawdsey Radar Museum or take a trip with Ipswich Museums on their Around the World Travels series of events.
Monsterologists are in for a scary treat as Suffolk’s Family-Friendly Museum award winners, Moyse’s Hall Museum, host a summer long Monster Takeover. Expect to meet the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy on a visit to this museum’s startling summer events. Or, if summer Shakespeare is more your thing, why not visit The Red House in Aldeburgh and see the critically-acclaimed theatre group, the Pantaloons, present their innovative and hilarious open-air version of Shakespeare’s timeless comedy, As You Like It. Arts and crafts can be found at Gainsborough’s House, where visitors can create arty summer sketchbooks or for the outdoor lovers, why not visit the National Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art for a summer of horsing around and a new ‘Kids only’ behind the Scenes tour.
Anyone who thinks all you get to do in a museum is look at stuff in glass cabinets is in for a bit of a surprise! Choose carefully this summer and you can help to create an unusual caterpillar, find out how a steam engine works, look for pirate treasure or search for creatures from outer space.
Traditionalists need not worry, they will find archaeology as well as aliens on the agenda and there are always plenty of conventional displays and collections to marvel at. This is, after all, a county where a trip between Ipswich and Sudbury will not only reveal more works by Gainsborough and Constable than you are ever likely to encounter elsewhere, but will also give you a glimpse of the landscape that inspired them.
Most museums and activities are either low-cost or absolutely free. Many sites offer free parking and refreshments or a chance to unwind with a family picnic in the sun. Have a look at the Summer in Suffolk Museums line-up to see what’s happening in a museum near you this summer.