Paxton House is surrounded by 80 acres of gardens, including a two-mile stretch of the River Tweed. © Mick Knapton
Museums and Galleries Month 2007 isn’t all about spending time indoors, looking at paintings or museum exhibits, it aims to show what else heritage venues have to offer.
There are many events going on in the great outdoors, from tours of gardens and parks to workshops and bug hunts. We’ve taken a magnifying glass to the 24 Hour Museum’s listings database and come up with our Top Ten outdoors events for Museums and Galleries Month.
Paxton House, in the Scottish Borders, is a grand Palladian stately home and features some 80 acres of gardens, parkland and woodland, including a two-mile stretch of the beautiful River Tweed.
Graeme Wilson from Paxton House will be leading strolls around the grounds on May 13, exploring the treasure trove of wild flowers and trees, and explaining their uses and healing properties.
Part of Holly Mitchell's Magic Garden installation. Visitors to Wolverhampton Art Gallery can create designs based on these fantastical creations. © the artist
Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Flowers and Foliage workshop isn’t actually outdoors, but it’s inspired by the outdoors, or at least the fantastical world on display in the Pleasure Gardens exhibition currently running at the gallery.
A free drop-in workshop for adults on May 15 2007, will inspire visitors to create weird and wonderful flowers and plants from all sorts of materials.
Ickworth House in Suffolk is a remarkable oval mansion surrounded by 1,800 acres of Capability Brown-designed wooded parkland plus a formal garden. There’s loads to discover there, and a whole new world appears there at night when the visitors go home and the wildlife comes out to play.
Twilight Adventures and May Time Mysteries is a guided family walk on May 19 exploring the park’s nocturnal world, with games and activities along the way.
Ickworth House's Capability Brown-designed gardens can be explored at night for MGM. © NTPL Rupert Truman
Also at Ickworth on May 29 you can take a journey to find out what’s behind the gate at the secret garden with a leisurely guided walk for families.
Another guided walk especially for kids and families is running at Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery, also on May 19. Staff from the museum and Medway Valley countryside partnership will lead the riverside walk and show how it supports industry, agriculture and the very identity of the town.
Children can also complete a special riverside trail spotting objects and animals on the way.
Painshill Park is packed full of things to see - its head gardeners will be leading tours for MGM. Courtesy Painshill Park
Find out how bees go about the industrious job of making honey and watch them at work from a safe vantage point in the museum’s observation hive. Members of Bedfordshire Beekeeping Society will be helping visitors make a beeswax candle and demonstrate how to make a straw beekeeping basket, or skep.
Painshill Park, near Cobham in Surrey, is one of the 18th century’s great dedicated landscape parks. It’s packed full of grottoes, lakes, follies and stunning viewpoints and its head gardeners will be leading introductory tours from May 26-28.
Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum, might be best known for its industrial exhibits but it also features a finely formed Georgian Garden at its Pockerley Manor site. On May 27 you can take a stroll with experts and explore the formal parterre garden, vegetable garden and orchard.
Beamish's Pockerley Manor has a splendid Georgian Garden. © Beamish
Bugs are an unavoidable feature of any garden. A bit of insider knowledge will help you find out what they do, where they live and how to get the good ones on your side - a local naturalist from Belgrave Hall Museum and Gardens will give you the lowdown at this event on May 31.
Finally, Cogges Manor Farm Museum is running activities throughout the half term week, from May 28 to June 1. There’s traditional bread making, a ladybird trail, patterns of nature printmaking, plant pot painting and plenty of hands-on farm activities. Check with Cogges Manor to find out what’s on when.
These are just some of the outdoors events running for Museums and Galleries Month – check the 24 Hour Museum listings for more ideas and inspiration.