The Culture24 top ten museum and gallery tours for Hidden Treasures 2013

By Ben Miller | 22 August 2013 | Updated: 21 August 2013

From bugs and dirt to Kings and Queens, the Hidden Treasures campaign will be inviting the public to snoop inside around 70 of the country's best museums and archives this month. Here are ten to get curious in...

A photo of a carved wooden head of some sort of dog-like beast
A set of carved wooden heads are Walsall's Hidden Treasures© Walsall Museums Service
, The Cardiff Story Museum, Cardiff, August 22

A gently insightful guide for families on looking after valuable finds. Find out how to care for shiny new treasures, identify critters, handle and pack artefacts and keep things clean like a conservator. Suitable for children over six.

, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth, August 22

Curators in Plymouth have already been on a summer mission along hidden corridors: this exhibition is part of a wider project to bring out and review more than 5,000 artefacts from the social history vaults. Guided tours and talks will end with the chance for visitors to suggest which objects should be kept, collected or even dispensed with.

, National Railway Museum, York, August 22-27

Once railway offices and workshops, this archive and library facility – winningly titled Search Engine – is now a top-of-the-range controlled storage space for more than 300 archive collections and thousands of books. Intricate engineering drawings, rare timetables, tickets yellowed by time and eye-witness accounts of the openings of famous railways are all inside.

, Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, August 22 and 24

Cartoon flamboyance reigns at the MOSI’s current Creating the Illusion exhibition, where puppets, Danger Mouse and travelling circuses build up a picture of the north-west’s animation history. There is a particular focus on internationally acclaimed studio Cosgrove Hall Films.

Museums Collection Centre, Edinburgh, August 22 and 27

The three sessions you can choose from here emanate whiffs of nostalgia and polish. There are behind-the-scenes tours of the art, social history, childhood and archaeology collections, introductions to anachronistic items from the reserve collections and a discussion of how photographs, furniture, silver and ceramics are cared for.

, Walsall Museum, Walsall, August 23

Synonymous with Walsall’s past, The Bayard’s Colts are a set of wooden poles topped with unique carved heads and historic weaponry. These 17 totems date from the 17th century and, while their mystery may never evaporate, their importance is underlined by their feted place in the Mayor’s palms during the local Walking the Fair ceremony.

, The Polar Museum, Cambridge, August 23

Nominated for the Art Fund Museum of the Year gong, ice and igloos are the fare of this research centre at the University of Cambridge. Three sessions take in textile conservation, Polar science and Inuit art – get in quick, because only 12 spaces are available for each one.

, UCL Art Museum, London, August 24

By definition of its intermittent openings, this museum – based in a print room at the core of UCL – is itself a hidden treasure. The graphic skill of Durer, Rembrandt and Turner lines this pop-up show of printworks, drawn from 10,000 works spanning 500 years.

, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, Inverness, August 24

The negotiations and schemes of William the Lion, Mary Queen of Scots and the impenetrably-named Edona of the Auldcastle have decided the destiny of Inverness. Chance upon land deeds, royal gifts and more in this behind-the-scenes glimpse of medieval charters for which, as you might expect, booking is imperative.

, Edinburgh, August 26

Despite one or two ominous murmurs of foul-tasting water, the natural spring discovered on the Water of Leith became something of a honeypot for the health-conscious in 1760. Find out why its steams could (reputedly) cure frailties and meet the statue of Hygeia – the Greek goddess of health – inside the building shaped by painter Alexander Nasymth in 1789.

Want more top tens? Try these:

Top ten toy collections

Top ten heritage steam railway tips

Top ten dinosaur museums and collections
Top ten mazes
Top ten open air museums
Art galleries at seaside resorts
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