Interior of Leeds City Museum © Leeds City Council
Leeds’ exciting and much anticipated state-of-the-art City Museum is to open its doors this Saturday, September 13 2008.
The impressive museum, converted from the historic listed former Civic Institute building in Millennium Square, is set to draw crowds keen to witness the city’s brand new showpiece.
The project is spread over four floors, with five major galleries, a central arena and special exhibitions space while a purpose-built discovery centre is also being created near Clarence Dock. It will be the first purpose-built home for Leeds's artefacts since bombing in 1941 damaged the city’s original museum on Park Lane.
“The new Leeds City Museum and discovery centre are going to provide us with some of the finest museum facilities to be found anywhere in the country,” said Leeds City Councillor John Procter.
'The Leeds Tiger' at Leeds City Museum © Leeds City Council
“It is a highly exciting project and the plans for how both buildings are going to look are fantastic. These are going to be wonderful, educational attractions for people to come and visit, and the people of Leeds will be very proud of these great new facilities for generations to come.”
The exhibitions will be interactive and child-friendly. The “World View” Gallery will initially focus on Africa and its culture while the “Treasures” Gallery will explore what makes objects valuable and why people collect them.
Further exhibitions will include “Ancient Worlds” – looking at life and death in ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, and a “Natural Sciences” Gallery which will explore the variety of life on our planet and, more locally, environmental issues in Leeds.
Exterior of Leeds City Museum © Leeds City Council
Well-loved objects will include the full-size Giant Irish Elk, the Leeds Tiger, ‘Nessy’, the 3000-year old Egyptian ‘Leeds Mummy’ and a recreation of a back-to-back house.
The first special exhibition will be the stomach-turning ‘Eating Creepy Crawlies ‘ on loan from the National History Museum.
Throughout the opening weekend a rich program of festivities has been planned in and around Millennium Square. Events include Roman soldiers, face painting, craft sessions, children's activities, open-air displays, a ‘Meet the Romans’ tent with a military march at noon.
There will also be music and dance shows by leading local and national performers including the Northern Ballet Theatre, Yorkshire Dance and RJC Dance.
A wildlife display at Leeds City Museum © Leeds City Council
Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Wessex, will visit the museum on Friday, the eve of the Grand Opening. Winners of the ‘Golden Ticket’ competition and those who queued to get special ‘early bird’ tickets will be the first through the doors on Saturday September 13 before the museum is opened to the public at 11.00am.
The Heritage Lottery Fund, Leeds City Council, the Single Regeneration Budget and Yorkshire Forward funded Leeds’ City Museum. There is a small charge for the special exhibitions but the museum itself is free.