It's May and that means only one thing in the world of Britain's museums and galleries - Museums and Galleries Month (MGM). Each year organisers pick a theme and this year it's Travel and the Art of Travelling.
Throughout the month British museums, galleries and heritage sites will be putting on special events, workshops and exhibitions to celebrate MGM 2004.
Inspired by several big anniversaries this year, like the 200th anniversary of the first steam engine and the 10th anniversary of Eurostar, organisers decided on a travel theme.
"Museums and Galleries Month 2004 is a great opportunity to discover a new museum or gallery on a weekend trip or day out with friends or family," said Charles Saumarez Smith, Co-Chairman Museums and Galleries Month 2004 and Director of the National Gallery.
"The travel theme has captured the imagination of many museums and galleries to organise interesting and entertaining events that illustrate the richness of their collections and involve the local community, " he adds.
Photo: a fleet of Fifies heading off for the herring grounds in the North East of Scotland. Courtesy of the Scottish Fisheries Museum.
Museums and Galleries Month was launched in York on Wednesday April 28 when MGM Co-Chairman and 24 Hour Museum Chairman, Loyd Grossman, visited the National Railway Museum to preview Rail Fest, the biggest event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the steam train.
Museums and Galleries Month is organised by the Campaign for Museums with support from engage (National Association for Gallery Education) and other museum and gallery associations and organisations. It is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and Arts Council England. This year’s sponsor is Eurostar.
There are literally thousands of events and exhibitions planned all across the UK throughout May. We have selected a few that have caught our eye but for the full list and to find out more about MGM click on this link to visit their website.
Photo: herring gutters and packers at Pittenweem, Fife. Courtesy of Scottish Fisheries Museum.
24 Hour Museum run down of the best that each region has to offer…
The Museum of the Isles’ exhibition, Travel through the Ages, illustrates the development of travel & transport over the last 200 years to and on the Isle of Skye. Running until the end of October, it is a combination of photographs and archives.
The herring season starts in May so what better time to learn about The Herring Year, an exhibition at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife, running until May 23. Charting the annual migration of fishermen and women to follow the herring, it concentrates on the height of the industry, between 1900 and 1914, and includes personal stories, photos and mementos.
Photo: herring Lasses at Yarmouth. While the women waited for the catch to be landed, they would knit jerseys and socks for the fishermen. Courtesy of Scottish Fisheries Museum.
The North East
Why not join Mr Fortune on a voyage of discovery across the Yellow Sea and beyond as he seeks to collect botanical riches from the Orient at Coldstream Museum. Fortunei, running until June 20, is a chance experience a hidden world of temples, tea and mandarins and see the many beautiful flowers and shrubs he introduced to Britain in the 19th century.
Photo: the Double Yellow Rose. Courtesy of Coldstream Museum.
For those of you interested in military history, a visit to the Military Vehicle Museum’s exhibition Then and Now Military Transport is an opportunity to see the vehicles and equipment used by the TA alongside vehicles of the last century.
At Ulster Folk & Transport Museum there will be an illustrated talk entitled Old Buses on May 23 by Mark Kennedy, Railway Curator & Acting Road Curator in the Irish Railway Collection.
Photo: maedb, the largest locomotive built and run in Ireland.Maedb is a 4-6-0 express passenger loco built in 1939 for the Great Southern Railway. Courtesy of Ulster Transport and Folk Museum.
On May 22 why not travel to the museum by steam train to celebrate the the 200th anniversary of the world's first steam locomotive. View the Irish Railway Collection & see a whole range of magnificent horse-drawn, historic vehicles displayed & driven in the great loughside meadow.
The North West
Photo: Water Wheel - Rossett by Lynne Bebb. From Spirit of the Place. Courtesy of Grosvenor Museum
OS117 is the Ordnance Survey map which covers the Chester and Wrexham districts. Five members of Group 75 have each taken part of this map and developed a body of work based on particualr aspects of their chosen area. Spirit of the Place: A visual reading of OS 117 is on at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum until June 27. On June 29 there will be a tour of the exhibition for visually impaired people.
Photo: Natural History Centre at Liverpool Museum. Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool.
Animals are the subject of Liverpool Museum’s MGM offering. Introduced Animals, throughout May, looks at the huge range of creatures that have arrived in Britain from all over the world, either as stowaways, escapees or migrants.
Photo: Natural History Centre at Liverpool Museum. Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool.
Get Off the Beaten Track at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Running until May 16, this new exhibition of work is from the Arts Council Collection at Longside Gallery.
The show examines work from the collection with specific links to landscape and outdoor exploration. A number of specialist walks and guided tours have been organised during the exhibition period to consider the themes of travel and the 'great outdoors'.
Photo: St Mark’s Square, Venice by Louis Desire Thienon, (1812-1881). © Cooper Gallery Trustees, Barnsley.
Why not take a Grand Tour of Cannon Hall Museum this May. The new exhibition highlights objects in the museum linked to the Grand Tour. Find out about the family members from Cannon Hall who toured Europe's hot spots and how travelling the continent influenced the lives of the aristocracy.
The Midlands Arts Centre is putting on a great exhibition called Crossing Borders, which starts on May 29 and runs until July.
Crossing Borders is made up of four poignant responses to the movement of people between and across nations whether voluntary, necessary or forced.
Photo: Anatomy of Exiles by Emma Summers. Courtesy of Midlands Arts Centre
Dropka, meaning People of Solitude, by Diane Butcher running from May 22 to July 11 is a photography exhibition all about life in a remote Tibetan village. Barker was privileged to witness first hand the lifestyle of two families in particular. She learnt how they live and about the conflict they are facing - how to preserve their way of life in the face of Western influences. Barker is giving a talk about her experiences in MACs cinema on June 2.
Photo: nomad girls returning from pilgrimage to Mt Kawa Karpo, Yu Chu Valley, Kham Tibet by Diane Barker. Courtesy of Midland Arts Centre
Photo: Nomad girls returning from pilgrimage to Mt Kawa Karpo, Yu Chu Valley, Kham Tibet by Diane Barker. Courtesy of Midlands Arts Centre
If that all sounds too high brow how about a visit to some Smelly Railways. Abbey Pumping Station brings the county's longest narrow guage railway to life with trains originally used to move sewage around the sewage works in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
The Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Shropshire are holding a number of events to celebrate National Museums and Galleries Month. Visitors to Blists Hill Victorian Town over the late May Bank Holiday weekend will be able to witness the spectacle of a Victorian Bicycle Rally, as costumed characters ride their High Bicycles and Bone Shakers around the recreated Victorian streets.
Photo: Victorian Bicycle Rally held at Blists Hill Victorian Town. Courtesy of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
How about a trip round the Peak District courtesy of Constable and Turner at the Bakewell Old House Museum, running until the end of October. The exhibition includes copies of some 50 sketches and finished works made by the artists when touring Derbyshire’s Peak District accompanied, where possible, by modern photos of the same views.
Photo: Maddie and Swaley Howell at Southend Carnival (Showmen). Courtesy of Hertford Museum.
Passing Places at Hertford Museum takes a look at Hertfordshire's travelling communities. Running until the end of October it includes stories and photographs with a display of Traveller art and crafts and interactives for visitors to discover more about Traveller communities in their local area.
A series of events and activities for all ages will run throughout May, including art workshops, talks and dancing workshops.
Photo: Amos Herne (Black Amos) and wife near Shenley, Herts, Feb 20, 1921. From the collection of prints at the Sydney Jones Library, University of Liverpool.
The British Schools Museum in Hitchin is mounting a display of items and photographs from the Jill Grey National Collection of childhood and education to celebrate MGM. It will show how the way we travel has changed from Victorian times to the present day.
Find out what secrets the suitcases at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery hold at Secret Suitcases: The Art of Travelling, on throughout Museums and Galleries Month. It is a chance to hunt for lost luggage left around the museum and be surprised and inspired by its contents.
Photo: Cotswold Motor Museum and Toy Collection have a collection of caravans. Courtesty of Cotswold Motor Museum and Toy Collection.
From what people pack in their suitcases to how they equip their caravans. Caravan Call at Cotswold Motor Museum and Toy Collection is an exhibition of period equipped caravans accompanied by period accessories and costumed owners taking place on the last bank holiday in May.
Journeys is the theme of the art exhibition by Art North Wales on show at the Royal International Pavilion Gallery in Llangollen on until June 15. The work includes ceramics, painting, jewellery, print and photography.
Photo: Children Returning from Pilgrimage, Croagh Patrick, Ireland. By GrahamHembrough, one of 35 archival black and white prints.
Learn about the European connections of the Ladies of Llangollen and design your own artwork with the artist in residence at Plas Newydd’s exhibition European Travels on May 31.
The Campaign for Museums is, like last year, supporting Printemps des Musees and has invited museums and galleries in the UK to develop events with a French flavour and Emsworth Museum has done just that.
Celebrate 100 years of Entente Cordiale at the museum throughout May, which includes a display of items donated by Emsworth's twin town. The exhibition was set up by the St.Aubin-sur-Mer/Emsworth Twinning Association.
The Museum of Farnham is celebrating the car at its exhibition On the Move, until June 5. Highlights include a photographic archive for the inventor of the first petrol driven motor car, John Henry Knight and exhibits about motor racing hero Mike Hawthorn.
A tour of London’s travel highlights would not be complete without reference to the underground. At Brunel Engine House until May 30 the story of The Oldest Section of the Oldest Underground in the World is brought to life using models, watercolours, computer graphics and prints.
At London's Transport Museum, on May 22 and 23, Abe Gibson, Museum Writer in Residence will perform a new piece, telling the true story of Joe Clough, a black bus driver employed by the London General Omnibus Company just before WWI.
Photo: writer in residence Abe Gibson performing the part of Joe Clough. Courtesy of London's Transport Museum.
London’s Theatre Museum is hosting Stage Struck where you can create your own West End map every Saturday in May and find out all about the crazy colourful maps on display and what they mean.
The Pump House Gallery is hosting Trading Places until May 29, a programme of events in connection with Trading Places, an exhibition exploring issues of asylum and immigration.
This is just a sample of what is on offer. Take a trip to your local museum to see how they are celebrating or click here to visit the MGM website to find out what is going on near you.