MGM 2006 - Footsteps Festival Celebrates Giants Of West Midlands

By Richard Moss | 18 May 2006
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photograph of two teenage girls dancing on a dancefloor

From painting activities to Roman re-enactments, the Footsteps of Giants Festival has it all. Courtesy Isis PR

West Midlands Hub of Museums officially launched its Footsteps of Giants Festival at a ceremony at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery on May 17 2006.

The Festival, which takes place between May 27 and June 4 2006 is part of MGM 2006 and is a week-long celebration of the ‘giant’ individuals, inventions and ideas that have shaped the history of West Midlands.

Organised by the West Midlands Hub (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, The Herbert (Coventry), Stoke-on-Trent Museums and Wolverhampton Arts and Museums), the region wide cultural festival involves a further 18 ‘Giant partner’ organisations spanning the breadth of the West Midlands.

photograph of Roman re-renactors

The Roman Military Research Society will be taking part in a major 2-day re-enactment at Lunt Fort, Coventry. Courtesy Isis PR

Ylva French of the Campaign for Museums praised Footsteps of Giants as being the kind of festival that the Campaign for Museums would like to see happening throughout the UK.

“I am very excited about the involvement of artists in the festival,” said Ylva, “and here in the West Midlands you are certainly setting a very hard act to follow next year!”

Events in the area range from a giant science sleepover, exhibitions and behind the scenes tours. There will also be discovery trails, historical re-enactments, a canal festival, experimental theatre, inventors' workshops, banghra dancing and even a Guinness world record breaking attempt to create the longest line of footsteps.

You can read about the latter on the 24 Hour Museum's kids' zone Show Me

photograph of a man and a woman laughing as the man puts his foot on a table and draws around it

Johnny O’Hanlon, Director of HamFisted! taking part in the Guinness World Record Attempt. Courtesy Isis PR

A re-enactment of Queen Victoria’s birthday will take at Blists Hill Victorian Town in the Ironbridge Gorge, whilst a mass re-enactment at Lunt Fort near Coventry will involve three re-enactment groups battling it out to decide who the giants of the Ancient World really were.

The festival also sees the first ever Open Day at Birmingham’s Museums Collections Centre, offering visitors an exclusive chance to uncover some of the city’s treasured artefacts. A Battle of Britain Flypast will also take place with a Spitfire, accompanied by a Hawker Hurricane and Lancaster bomber, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Spitfire’s maiden flight and its designer Reginald Mitchell, a giant of Stoke-on-Trent.

All the events, which have been supported by the Renaissance programme to transform regional museums, are aimed at celebrating the scientific, artistic and technological, cultural and sporting achievements of the West Midlands.

a photograph of two men and a woman sat on the floor grinninbg and wearing strange costumes

Actors from the specially commissioned performance by HamFisted! posing in front of their ‘contraption’. Courtesy Isis PR

“The Renaissance in the Regions initiative has brought, for the first time, direct investment from central government to regional museums across the country, enabling them to raise their standards and deliver real results in support of education, learning, community development and economic regeneration,” said Rita McLean, Acting Head of Museums & Heritage Projects at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

“Renaissance is very much focussed on users – it is about helping museums to meet people's changing needs and to change people's lives,” she added.

Museums and Galleries Month is organised by The Campaign for Museums, a registered charity, with support from Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) through the Renaissance in the Regions programme and Arts Council England. MGM is also supported by Borders, the 24 Hour Museum and museums, galleries and arts organisations throughout the UK.

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Find out more about the Footsteps Festival on their website www.footstepsofgiants.co.uk