There are still plenty of Museums and Galleries Month events to take you through the bank holiday.
Searching for something to do this bank holiday weekend? Olivia Laing advises a trip to Kent to discover Roman relics, martime history, town heritage and local art work.
Museums and Galleries Month has been running from 29 April to 4 June, but there’s still time for museums to show off some of the unusual items from their collections, draw you in to some intriguing exhibitions or tempt you with a variety of exciting events.
In Kent, there are a host of shows and spectacles, including maritime street theatre, Roman relics and the chance to trace your own family history. As well as exhibitions, there’s a range of special events, so there’s no excuse at all for getting bored over the bank holiday.
At Canterbury Roman Museum a Roman Relics day is being held on 27 May. The museum permanent collection combines excavated finds and skillful historic recreations with the remains of a genuine Roman townhouse, complete with intricate mosaics. Roman Relics takes you ever further into the past, with the chance to handle some amazing archaeological finds from Roman Canterbury.
Canterbury was once a major Roman town. Find out all about it at a Roman Relics day at Canterbury Roman museum on May 27. © Canterbury Roman Museum
At Chatham Historic Dockyard, maritime history comes to life with a salty celebration of Chatham’s seafaring past. The Medway Maritime Festival runs from 26 – 28 May and offers plenty of bank holiday fun. Maritime re-enactors, music and street theatre add to the spectacle, and there are plenty of entertainments, activities and displays to delight the entire family.
If you’re more of a bookish type, the Discovery Day at the library of the Royal Engineers Museum might be a better choice. Held on May 27, this is a rare chance to explore some of the treasures stored in this library, including archive photographs of the Medway towns going right back to the 1880s. If you’re inspired by the trip down memory lane, library staff are on hand to help you research your own family past.
Chatham Historic Dockyard is holding a Maritime History Festival from May 26 – 28.
On May 29 there’s another chance to delve into the even more distant past. Herne Bay Museum and Art Gallery is hosting Hold the Fort, an interactive exhibition of finds from Reculver Roman Fort. All sorts of intriguing archaeological finds will be brought out of their cases for a one day-only chance to touch and feel.
The museum also boasts an impressive collection of fossils, including mammoth tusks and sharks teeth!
While you’re there, if you can find a spare second it’s well worth popping through to the neighboring gallery to view the current touring exhibition. David Hockney: Grimm’s Fairy Tales, running until 8 July 2006, offers a rare opportunity to view new work by the celebrated British artist. These delicate copper-plate illustrations of fairy stories are not to be missed.
Tunbridge Wells Museum has been 'Making Connections' by getting three contemporary artists to work with three local groups to create their own original piece of artwork. © Tunbridge Wells Museum
Caught your breath yet? Finally, Making Connections at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery runs all month, from 6 May to 1 July. The theme of this year’s Museum and Galleries Month is Making Connections, and to celebrate Tunbridge Wells Museum have commissioned three contemporary artists to work with local groups to create artwork inspired by connections.
Using the natural history collection as a springboard for ideas, the work makes connections between the past, present and future.
More details about all these events, including prices and opening times, can be found on the 24 Hour Museum website, or by contacting the galleries directly.