Culture24/7: Recommended history & heritage museum exhibitions for January 2013

By Richard Moss | 03 January 2013
a sliver pendant in the shape of a male head
A silver pendant featured in Vikings! at National Museum Scotland. © The Swedish History Museum

Vikings land in Edinburgh, the Underground turns 150 in London, and there’s plenty to warm the cockles in a packed January 2012 of history and heritage themed exhibitions and events.

Vikings!, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, January 18 – May 12

This major show aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding the Vikings with the help of more than 500 objects from the unparalleled collection of the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.

If you love the traditional image of axe yielding Norsemen in horned helmets and Viking longships, fear not – this is a show rich in the symbolism and mythology of Viking ships; domestic life and death rituals; astonishing Viking workmanship in jewellery, metalwork, textiles and an amazing array of objects made from glass, bone and amber.

Holocaust Memorial Day, various venues, January 27

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 is Communities Together: Build a Bridge, which not only remembers communities which were brutally destroyed during the Holocaust under Nazi Persecution, but also the victims of subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Walks, screenings, talks, plays, performances, exhibitions and services of remembrance are among the activities taking place to commemorate this important day. Museums ranging from IWM North to the Jewish Museum in London contribute thoughtful and lively programmes.  

Fate, Hope and Charity, The Foundling Museum, London, January 25 - May 19

The Foundling offers a poignant exploration of the stories behind the tangible tokens mothers left with babies at the Hospital in the 18th century.

After ten years of research, the museum reveals what happened to each child a token belonged to, the circumstances of their abandonment and interesting facts about the tokens themselves. Prepare yourself for a moving journey.

The Home Guard, The Museum of the Manchester Regiment, Ashton-under-Lyne, until June 22

The Home Guard units, cap-badged to the Manchester Regiment, provide the theme for this celebration of the real men behind Dads’ Army. Exploring who they were, where they came from, what they did and why, their story is told through photographs – many on public display for the first time – and the objects they left behind.

And if you or your family have memories of service days in the Home Guard or recollections of a close family member’s involvement, the museum is keen to hear them.

Burns Night, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; National Museum of Rural Life, East Kilbride and Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayr, January 27

Burns Day is celebrated at National Museums Scotland as part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals with Burns Unbound. In Edinburgh, a day of performances and hands-on activities, hosted by Karen Dunbar, is topped off by a performance by Amy Macdonald; in East Kilbride, a bustling day of workshops, museum trails, musical recitals and craft activities culminates in a mass recital of To a Mouse, in the Grand Gallery.

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum steps back in time for its celebration of the Bard, to Alloway in 1759, with the help of a bevy of costumed characters, orchestras and haggis hurling around the cobbled streets of Burns Cottage and the Museum.

150 Years of the London Underground, London Transport Museum, London, from January 10

A year of commemorative events celebrating 150 years of subterranean travel beneath the streets of London gets underway with a couple of underground steam journeys recalling the first journey between Paddington and Farringdon on the Metropolitan Railway.

Metropolitan Railway E-Class 0-4-4T steam locomotive No.1 will return to the Tube on Sunday 13 and 20 January 2013. At the Museum in Covent Garden a raft of talks, workshops and special events kicks off a busy year for train enthusiasts.

Magic Worlds: Fantasy, Illusion, Enchantment, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Norwich, from January 26

The magical V&A Museum of Childhood touring exhibition rolls into town with its captivating blend of witches, wizards, fairies, elves, dragons, magicians and illusionists.

On display will be costumes, tricks, paintings, ceramics, beautifully illustrated books and posters, as well as games, optical toys and dramatic puppets exploring the origins and history of magic and fantasy. Expect a landscape of fabled creatures and fictional characters from Frodo Baggins to Snow White. And Sooty and his wand.
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