This Bank Holiday weekend sees Hampshire's maritime museums laying on some special events for MGM 2006.
From 29 April to 4 June 2006, museums and galleries across the country have been opening their doors for a very special series of exhibitions, shows and events. Museums and Galleries Month 2006 is an opportunity for museums to put on unusual activities or showcase hidden aspects of their collections.
In Hampshire, where a seafaring past has led to a host of maritime museums, events have a distinctly nautical flavour. So, ahoy there me hearties: there’s still time enough to enjoy MGM by the sea!
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to several maritime museums and all sorts of exciting exhibitions. You could start by exploring Henry VIII’s famous ship, the Mary Rose.
Ahoy me hearties! There are still lots of Nautical activities for kids of all ages in Hampshire's nautcial musems during MGM 2006. © Mandy Schaller
For the full historical experience, take advantage of daily tours and talks at the Mary Rose Museum by costumed interpreters. You’ll get a sense of what life was like aboard a Tudor ship, as well as having the chance to take a look at some of the artifacts rescued from the wreck. While some are surprisingly similar to ours, others are intriguingly different. The Highlight Tours run until June 4 2006.
Next, pop down to the Royal Navy Museum for Dreadnoughts: The ships and the men who built, lived and fought in them. Running until March 2007, this special exhibition tells the stories of the navy’s battleships, starting in 1906 with HMS Dreadnought, and ending in 1960 with the breaking up of HMS Vanguard and the development of a new generation of warships.
While they didn’t last long, these ships represented the very cutting edge of boat building, and the exhibition has some fascinating stories to tell.
The Dockyard is also home to an art gallery, which will celebrate Museums and Galleries Month with an exhibition on the national theme of Making Connections: Past, Present and Future. Under Sail, which runs until 8 September 2006, displays work by a range of artists including “modern masters” Stephen Dews and Martin Swan. The paintings depict moments from the history of the great yacht races, including the Americas Cup.
Learn about HMS Dreadnought and the men (and cats) who sailed in her at the Royal Navy Museum. © Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
On board HMS Warrior, there’s a chance to explore the life and times of the heroic Florence Nightingale. Running until 31 May, A Forgotten Legacy focuses on Florence Nightingale’s India campaign, and her attempts to improve hygiene and provide clean water and education for both the army and local population out in India.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more active, Crossing Continents might prove ideal. Running from May 27-29 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, this weekend of carnival activities has been organised to celebrate the passing of the Volvo Ocean Race through Portsmouth.
Crossing Continents has re-created the five continents visited by the race as a trail running through the streets of Portsmouth. Music, food and street theatre bring the different cultures to life, and you can chat to an American Indian, dance to African drums or try a spot of Samba over in South America, all without leaving the city.
Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower has family-friendly events and a cracking exhibition about Priddy's Hard munitions depot.
Meanwhile, just over the water at Gosport’s Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower, there’s a cracker of a show. Priddy’s Hard, running until 30 June, charts the working history the former Royal Navy armaments depot which now houses the museum. On 31 May, the museum is also running a special family-friendly event on how to design and make your own paper, as well as teaching you exciting tricks you can do with it.
A little further up the coast at Southampton Maritime Museum, there’s the chance to bond with your inner pirate. Pirates! On May 31 is a day of events dedicated to our eye patch and cutlass-wearing salty sea-dog friends. As well as having a chance to explore the treasures of the Maritime Museum, there will be story telling and the chance to make your very own parrot, pirate hat and treasure chest.
With all these events and activities on offer, there’s no excuse at all for not visiting at least one museum this month. Which one will you pick?
For more information about any of the exhibitions or events listed, please consult the 24 Hour Museum website or contact the individual museums and galleries.