Each May sees Museums and Galleries Month (MGM) celebrate the nation's wonderful cultural places. May 2008 is sure to be another great MGM with enticing events that make visiting everything from local heritage centres to major national galleries extra fun.
The Welcome Weekend is a hot ticket marking the beginning of MGM around the country. See-in the month with events over the May Bank Holiday, May 2 - 5, including curators' tours and family activities.
Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is having a lively one with re-enactments of jousting contests and more (May 3 to 5, 11am-5pm). Or you could go to the Bowes Museum, County Durham, for a more sedate day of VIP treatment on May 3. Meanwhile Yorkshire's Oakwell Hall will be quizzing visitors on objects that were everyday items used in the house 400 years ago.
Shaun the Sheep will be shown in museums around the country. © Aardman films
Museums at Night
On May 16, 17 and 18, the UK joins in a Europe-wide event giving visitors the chance to experience museums after dark.
Unusual night-time events on offer include 'behind the scenes' tours of the cellars of Hereford Cider Museum, and evening viewings of Lindow Man, the prehistoric bog-preserved body, at Manchester Museum (until 8pm). In Essex, you can explore one of Britain's oldest museums, Saffron Walden Museum by torchlight until 10pm after a Victorian themed day.
A special attraction for Museums at Night 2008 are the hilarious Wallace and Gromit films The Wrong Trousers and Shaun the Sheep, being screened at venues up and down England, from the Brunel Museum in London to Newcastle's Discovery Museum.
Should we display the dead? Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry, currently hosting 'Bodyworlds', will ask this question on May 13. Courtesy MoSI
Get to grips with the issues behind heritage and arts in the MGM Debates series.
Tying in with its Bodyworlds exhibition, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester is asking 'Should we display the dead?' on May 13 (7pm-9pm).
In London, art critics and sportspeople will ponder whether sport and art is a clash of cultures, at the National Portrait Gallery (May 15, 7pm start).
MGM TopLots auction
If you want to bag a real treat during MGM2008, get bidding on eBay's TopLots Heritage Auctions. From May 8 to 18, cultural lots from bespoke experiences to privileged access are all on offer from UK museums and galleries.
The Heritage Roadshow will bring a feast of history from museums around Somerset to one venue. © Somerset Museums Service
To whet your appetite, here are a few more MGM events taking place…
- Get all 18th century at the Georgian Family Fun Day at Buckinghamshire County Museum, Aylesbury, on May 10.
- Relive the Second World War in an English village at the Rural Life Centre, Tilford, May 10-11.
- Have your face painted Iron Age style or marvel at medieval sword fighting at the Somerset Heritage Roadshow, Glastonbury Abbey, May 5 (11am-5pm).
- Take a star turn and dress up as your favourite celebrity, enter the look-alike competition and saunter down that red carpet for the paparazzi at Walsall New Art Gallery on May 24.
- Learn about medical history in a walking tour of Marylebone, London, beginning at the Royal College of Physicians, May 9 and 15, 1.15pm.
For comprehensive listings of what's on during MGM2008, search www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/whatson.html with the dates May 1 to 31.