In Pictures: Snow storms bring out the best in museums, galleries and heritage spots

By Culture24 Staff | 07 January 2010
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A photo of a hedge surrounding an historic building covered in snow

From stoic resilience to early closures and red tape, museums and galleries have taken the brunt of Arctic conditions across the UK, softened by their capacity to provide some of the most picturesque snow scenes in the land.

Perhaps the greatest risk posed by inclemency came at Tate Modern, where the official launch of work on its £215 million extension had been scheduled for Wednesday.

A photo of two middle-aged men in building hats and uniforms at a construction site

A shovel-wielding Boris Johnson launched the £215 million Tate Modern extension building programme. Picture: Tate

Few who braved the blizzards would wish to see Boris Johnson lumbering towards them with a spade, but the Mayor of London made it to the city landmark to dig the first furrow of the vast new development.

"The genius of London is being able to spot the potential of an ageing power station and create an enormously successful gallery like Tate Modern," suggested the beaming Mayor, lauding the Tate as a "great temple of art" and "global icon".

A photo of an historic house and gardens covered in snow

Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. Picture: twitter.com/ bletchleypark

From behind Bletchley Park's closed gates, organisers consoled disappointed visitors with beautiful pictures of the grounds, matched by a range of winter wonderlands from the Royal Horticultural Society in a glimpse of the fairytale visions their landscapes have become.

As Chichester's Pallant House, Rotherham's Magna Science Centre and the British Library's Boston Spa site shut their doors on Wednesday, others attempted to lure chilly audiences inside – Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum promised chocolate cake in the gallery, and Reading Museum took the chance to talk up its café.

A photo of a train made out of snow

The "Snow Loco" at the National Railway Museum. Picture: nrm.org.uk

Staff at the National Railway Museum in York built a "snow loco" train outside the haulage haven. "All the staff had a fantastic time," said Museum Director Helen Ashby, who oversaw the formation of their surrogate snowman. "Our visitors seem to love our temporary addition to the collection."

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum announced free admission all day on Thursday, which should give hardy visitors little excuse not to spare a bit of their savings for the Museum's appeal towards buying a revealing German Prisoner of War diary.

A photo of a battleship covered in snow

HMS Victory at Portsmouth. Picture: historicdockyard.co.uk

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard looked impenetrable under a carpet of flakes, giving HMS Victory a mythical splendour. At the other end of the country, Newcastle was never going to be the place to escape the ice, and the Laing Art Gallery looked glorious in white.

The city's 7 Stories creativity centre for children closed early on Wednesday, and Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery closed in line with the university it is part of, although officials re-opened the building at 10am on Thursday.

A photo of a town centre of brick buildings covered in snow under a blue sky

Snowy Newcastle. Picture: newcastle.gov.uk/libraries

Early decisions to close on Thursday came at Pallant, the Dockyard, the London Museum, the capital's Royal Air Force Museum and Cardiff Bay's Techniquest centre.

Follow our Twitter page for all the latest updates on museums, galleries and heritage sites affected by the weather.

Watch a snowman being built at Bletchley Park below: