MGM 2006 - Banging The Drum For The Thames Valley

By Nicola Tann | 15 May 2006
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A line of children salute

Eyes left! Kids give a salute during a marching drill at a Move It! half term activity day. Photo Courtesy of REME Museum.

Museums and Galleries Month 2006 has really spoilt us this year with a feast of excellent family friendly events across the Thames Valley. From Milton Keynes Gallery to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, there’ll be something to suit every family.

To celebrate National Share-A-Story Month – as well as Museums and Galleries Month – the Roald Dahl Museum is hosting a story session and visit for a group of local visually impaired and sighted children on Friday May 19 2006.

Organised by Living Paintings, the national charity for the visually impaired, the exhibition will include raised illustrations by Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl’s principal illustrator, from some of the author’s classics. Enjoy material from stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG and Matilda, along with the books on tape and in Braille.

Examples of the raised illustrations by Quentin Blake

Examples of the raised illustrations by Quentin Blake. Photo courtesy of Living Paintings.

At Wycombe the emphasis is more retrospective with a re-enactment of a Civil War camp on May 20 2006. You can meet cavaliers and musketeers and there’ll be fires, drumming and cannonball-loading amongst the activities.

If you have trouble sitting still you should probably head down to the REME Museum of Technology between May 31 and June 2 2006 for one of their Move It! Family Activity Days. You can find out what makes a hovercraft hover and a kite fly. Kids aged 5-12 can take part in all the activities - including a mini assault course and a potentially scary Bug Hunt.

A man and some young boys on an assault course

Move it! Mini squaddies and assault course during one of the Move It! days at REME. Photo courtesy of REME Museum.

Fancy yourself as a bit of an artist? Put your money where your mouth is at the Museum of Oxford this month where you can take your inspiration from the city and the museum to create a new work of art - then enter it in the children’s art competition. There are three entry categories, (under 8s, 8-11 and 12-16), and you could, should your talent be recognised, have your work displayed in the new Town Hall Gallery in August and win a prize. If not, you’re probably just too far ahead of your time…

They’re also hosting a Swinging Sixties Family Fun Day on May 27 2006 where you can get involved in flower-power face painting and craft drop-ins and have a sing-a-long to a selection of favourite songs from the decade. If you're doubting your artistic prowess after the art competition you can win a prize here just for turning up in 60s garb. Groovy.

Adults and children banging drums in a garden

Banging tunes. Photo courtesy of Wycombe Museum.

The Oxford Bus Museum is running its Morris Car Rally for the second year running on May 21 2006. You can head down with the family to have a look at over 40 Morris cars dating from 1925-1980 - and don’t miss the chance to have one of their trademark vintage bus rides during the day too.

At the Milton Keynes Gallery a new exhibition of the work of Roger Hiorns will be the springboard for a Family Friendly Day on May 20 2006. Activities will include building an enormous engine, story telling, face painting and hat making.

Young children involved in a drag car activity

Participants enjoying Family Day at Milton Keynes Gallery in October 2005. Photo courtsey of Milton Keynes Gallery.

You can always rely on the Pitt Rivers and Oxford University Museum to come up with something good - being the winner of the Guardian Family Friendly Museum competition 2005 - and they haven’t let us down. In a Different Light on the May 20 2006 will see the museums open through the evening from 7-11pm offering a wide range of entertainments.

There will be films screened, a gamelan and shadow puppet show, and a special Torchlight Trail. Family activities include getting up close to naturally fluorescent bugs and minerals and making a glowing jellyfish. If that all sounds a bit too much, you can just have a cuppa and a bite to eat and listen to the music from the gallery.

An old man in costume sits in stocks amid families in a garden

Got any mouldy old turnips? Chuck them at this old bloke. Photo courtesy of Wycombe Museum.

These are just a fraction of the events going on this month across the Thames Valley. For further information and other events check out the ‘What’s On’ section on the 24 Hour Museum site where you can search by region, venue, event or dates.

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Nicola Tann is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance Student Writer for Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.