Richard Moss takes a quick look at some of the high spots across Britain during MGM 2003.
Museums and Galleries Month 2003 kicks off during the May Day Bank Holiday weekend and with it comes a host of special events and exhibitions taking in some 1,400 museums and galleries around the UK.
Throughout May a museum near you will be putting on special events and exhibitions taking in everything from local culture to couture. For some institutions, it's a chance to let the public in to have a look behind the scenes, for others it's an opportunity to explore cultures past and present.
Luckily, one of this year's themes is cultures then and now, so many of the events and exhibits on display will bring to life some of our past cultures while exploring the many changes and developments within our localities.
This year also has an added European dimension with many museums and galleries across the UK celebrating cross-channel connections, with the French Government celebrating Printemps des Musees, on Sunday May 4.
Boasting a culture that is both rich with the past yet still strongly influenced by its proximity to the continent, the south east of England features a wealth of events and exhibitions that combine a local and Gallic flavour.
To get a taste of what's on offer, have a look at our whistle stop tour of just some of the museum and gallery events across the regions in May. You'll probably find that popping into you local museum will serve you up a few surprises…
The historic county town of Lewes in East Sussex has a rich and colourful history and three aspects of this are dealt with at the Barbican House Museum and Lewes Castle.
Spread over three weekends, Traders and Invaders explores the impact of other cultures in the Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Tudor periods. There will be dressing up, role-play and a series of events designed to bring the local past to life. Norman Saturday is May 3, Anglo-Saxon Saturday May 10 and Tudor Sunday June 1.
Southampton Maritime Museum is celebrating the city's connection with France from prehistory to the present day. Running from May 1, French Connections will feature everything from how French mammoths got to Southampton during the Ice Age to which French princess slept in the local God's House Tower.
Left: Fabrica Gallery in Brighton - art with a gallic flavour in May.
Over in Brighton, the folks who run Fabrica Gallery are throwing their hats in with Printemps des Musees with a day entitled Bienvenue, on May 4. Croissants, coffee, French magazines & newspapers and even French gallery attendants will give a gallic flavour to Emma Woofenden's No Horizon exhibition.
In Portsmouth, the Mary Rose Museum will be focussing on local culture as it launches Shipshape throughout May. Highlighting five centuries of Portsmouth Dockyard's shipbuilding past and future, re-enactors The Tudor Group will be in action outside firing a replica gun from the Mary Rose on May 3.
Similar local traditions are explored at the Cogges Manor Farm Museum Past Cultures and Traditions weekend on May 24 - 26. Here you will see demonstrations of traditional crafts and farming tasks, and have the chance to meet the South Bucks Ferret Club (I should imagine visitors would be well advised not to wear shorts to this event - Editor, 24 HM).
Right: what better place to meet people than down your local and you'll meet all sorts at the Mary Rose Museum.
In Scotland, there's a Francophile flavour to proceedings with a series of workshops and events celebrating the connection between Scottish and French culture, in particular the influence of Mary Queen of Scots during the late-Medieval/early Renaissance period.
Preston Grange Industrial Heritage Museum in East Lothian ties in to the theme with their exhibition Medieval Machines - an interactive exhibition featuring technology developed during that period and at the excellent Verdant Works Museum in Dundee there's a Victorian dressing up workshop.
The People's Palace in Glasgow gives itself over to a Free Family Fun Day on May 4 as part of the City of Glasgow Maydaze Festival, while the Heatherbank Museum of Social Work launches Children In Trouble - a research project into residential settings for children with behavioural problems today and in historical periods back to the Ragged Schools of the mid-19th Century.
Moving south into Northumberland,Bede's World is seizing the opportunity for an exploration of the times and culture of the venerable chronicler with a trail of discovery called Peopling Northumbria - throughout May.
Following a similar theme May 17 and 18 sees a free exhibition presentation of the Lindisfarne Gospels at Durham Cathedral. This follows the presentation of a new facsimile copy of the Gospels on May 16.
Left: if it's an authentic taste of the industrial North East you're after, Beamish is the place for you.
For the Beamish North of England Open Air Museum the fun kicks off with a distinctly British flavour as staff recreate traditional May Festivities in The Colliery Village, complete with a May Queen, a Maypole dancing competition and Morris Dancers.
In Northern Ireland, the Ulster Museum is celebrating the local traditions and crafts of the Blacksmith with an exhibition entitled Fighting Forms.
On May 11 a traditional blacksmith will be on hand to show how armour and weapons are made in the forge. The same venue also features a rather more Touching Experience on May 19 with a a rare chance to touch and talk about costume and objects from the Museum's fine art collection. It's just one of a week-long series of creative events to mark the European Year for People with Disabilities.
The Museum of Liverpool Life gets into the swing of things with a resident printer on hand for a demonstration explaining the differences between printing in 1938 and today. Every Tuesday throughout May has also been designated a period to explore 'Liverpool Culture Then & Now' and an invitation to wander through some of the city's history.
Right: there's so much more to Liverpool than The Beatles, Michael Owen and a couple of Cathedrals - find out what at the Museum of Liverpool Life.
A similar theme is taken up between May 12 - 16, at The Kendal Museum of Natural History and Archaeology. Workshops will explore the differences between the past and present - participants will be invited to create art using a wide range of materials, that draw inspiration from the Archaeology, History & Natural History Collections.
A welcome weekend event at Worsbrough Mill Museum will be offering Guided Tours of the Mill throughout the May bank holiday weekend. The tours start at 11.30 on Saturday May 3, continuing every two hours.
The Royal Pump Museum in Harrogate will be celebrating local culture in the 1950s in its Fabulous Fifties Family Fun Day on May 17 between 11 and 4pm. Activities will run throughout the day and include exhibition trails, quizzes, things to make and 1950s replica costumes to try.
Hereford Museum and Art Gallery is seizing the theme of culture then and now with a series of children's workshops that focus on family trees, ethnic diversity and the local history of the area on May 1 and 2.
Left: if you live near the Museum of London or you're just passing you won't want to miss the working Roman water wheel. © 24 Hour Museum.
Rugby Art Gallery and Museum explores similar themes of diversity with a taste of Asia on May 10. A demonstration by young Banghra dancers will be accompanied by a fashion show of beautiful saris and the opportunity to sample food from different countries.
A different dancing tradition forms part of the May Festival at theAvoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings in Worcestershire between May 3 and 5 and includes music, Morris dancers (Mon. only) and train rides.
There's another fair at the Kettering Through The Ages - Living History Fair at Manor House Museum on May 16. Celebrating 200 years of local history this multi-period living history fair will be held in the museum and gallery gardens and feature stalls, encampments, craft workers, music & storytelling.
The Gower Heritage Centre in Wales has an ecological slant to the traditional Mayday festivities with its 'Environmental Challenge.' Between May 3 and 5 children will be making, then dancing, around a Maypole made out of a mound of rubbish - with the help of workshop leaders.
The Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey near Cambridge also gets into the festival spirit with a 1940s fete during the bank holiday on May 25 and 26 featuring traditional games and Maypole dancing whilst the Moyes Hall Museum has a Tudor Living History day on May 18.
Right: there's loads to see and do at the fantastic Bristol City Art Gallery and Museum. Photo: Jon Pratty. © 24 Hour Museum.
On May 10 and 11 the National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff is leading the way with a multicultural arts festival showcasing some of the best artists from around the world encompassing music, poetry, dance, storytelling and crafts.
If that doesn't tickle your fancy you can go back in time and experience life as a Victorian and learn how they lived at the Rhondda Heritage Park on May 4 and 5.
Red House Museum in Christchurch, Dorset is looking across the channel with French Connections on May 1 and 2. It's a trail that highlights and explores many of the objects in the Museum of a French origin or have a 'French Connection'.
The 'Celebrity Choice' Museum Trail on May 1 and 2 celebrates Bristol's remarkable cultural heritage in local museums and art galleries. Throughout the month of May visitors to the five Bristol City Council run museums will be able to follow in the footsteps of their favourite local celebrity and find out what their favourite object is and why.
Coming full circle and finishing in London, May sees the capital awash with special events and exhibitions to tempt gallery and museum goers into their hallowed halls.
Left: all aboard! Hop into London's Transport Museum for a 'moving' tour of the capital!
Just two aspects and periods of London life will be dealt with at Life on the Buses during May 26 - 30 at London's Transport Museum. Former London bus driver & conductor Lawrence Darani will be chatting to visitors about 'life on the buses.
Another Londoner with a story to tell, Samuel Pepys will be showcased at the Museum of London, in a special exhibition called Pepy's London from May 8. There will also be a range of events relating to the celebrated diarist from writing workshops to guided tours of the exhibition with the curator.
Amidst the celebrations and special exhibitions in London, one museum to definitely look out for in May is the Museum of Immigration and Diversity at 19 Princelet Street. This rare jewel of a museum in Spitalfields is London's only museum of conscience and will be opening its doors on May 4, 11 and 25 for an exhibition entitled Suitcases and Sanctuary.
For a full listing of events go to:
www.may2003.org.uk/html/evhome.html on the Museum and Galleries Month website.
Regular updates about MGM 2003 events and exhibitions will be appear on the 24 Hour Museum throughout May - make sure you keep checking the site!
Our team of regional volunteer writers will be reporting back on some events to give you a flavour of this annual cultural treat.