A Culture24 top ten of the best storytelling events at museums, galleries and heritage sites

| 05 August 2013

Most parents can spin a good yarn, but museums and galleries have a few master storytellers of their own this summer. Here are ten of the best museum and gallery storytelling events for summer 2013...

A photo of a woman telling a story to a room of children
Storytelling fun at IWM North this summer
, Brunel Institute, Bristol, September 3

Sarah Mooney is a sorceress who describes her stories as “breathtaking, deeply wild and dangerously soft”. Collaborating with the ss Great Britain, aboard which she’s reeled off many a yarn, these are encounters with whales, angel fish, pirate treasure and stormy seas in monthly sessions designed for under-5s but suitable for all the family.

, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, August 28

A natural raconteur who has become a favourite around Cambridge, Marion Leeper and her magic pockets return to the Sedgwick for fossil finding stories led by a tiger. Designed for three to seven-year-olds.

, Killhope The North of England Lead Mining Museum, Durham, August 20 / 27

A campfire in the forest at the North Pennines’ former Victorian mine. Scary walks with resident storyteller Adam Bushnell also take place regularly – look out for the Halloween one later in the year.

, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, until August 21

The 200th birthday of David Livingstone – arguably Scotland’s greatest explorer – results in an elegant storytelling performance, programmed as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and bearing a sense of investigation. Toto Tales tell his story from the viewpoint of natives who knew him best in Africa, teasing out why he was different to his fellow European explorers of the age.

, Ruthin Gaol, Denbighshire, August 22 / September 29

This 17th century prison is a dark place. Where better, then, to hear the stories of its Victorian incarcerates, not all of whom had as tragic a tale as you might expect. The songs and music they might have heard accompany the sessions.

, Firepower, London, August 20-23

Anyone seeking storytelling from a first-hand perspective needs to visit this four-day mini-programme at the Royal Artillery Museum. Led by members of the Evacuee Reunion Association, these are recollections of escapes from nightly bomb attacks. Gas mask box making and bungee runs will also be accompanied by shot-taking on a firing range.

, Plas Newydd, Llangollen, August 22-23 / 25-26

Myth and magic rolls underfoot along every hill and ruin of this fort above Llangollen. In the company of a strolling old-school singer, musician, storyteller and historical comedian, the medieval gardens should make for an even more invigorating adventure.

Little Kickers: The Way Home, IWM North, Manchester, August 27

Horrible Histories might be taking cartoonish centre stage at its London cousin this summer, but the Imperial War Museum’s Manchester headquarters has its own highly imaginative line-up. Made in collusion with the National Football Museum and featuring the punningly-named Ref-Fairy, this song-filled journey shows off the museum’s knack for puppetry. Tales of life as a woman in the Land Army and a cat puppet called Oskar also feature in the summer programme.

, Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds, September 7

The current display by the Society of Bookbinders illustrates the variety of ways to tell stories in a fashion adding visual engrossment to words and rhymes. Chiefly inspired by the flipbooks and thaumatropes among these covers, this workshop is for over-5s and their families.

, Discover Children's Story Centre, London, until September 27

One for the future space cadets and crater discoverers, blasting off, singing and riding in a roaring rocket to an alien planet where a story awaits. A short session with lunar rhymes and melodies.


Want more top tens? Try these:

Top ten toy collections
Top ten re-enactment and living history events
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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