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Posts Tagged ‘National Gallery’

I love museums. And galleries. Lock me up in a library and I’ll happily spend the rest of my days in thrall to all those ancient tomes, dust mites and pages and pages of possibility.

This love of all things cultural I owe to my mum and dad. Not because they dragged me kicking and screaming to every National Trust pile within driving distance. They didn’t – to be honest, they were far too busy running their fledgling bakery. Buns, flour, dough and deliveries occupied their waking hours.

No, mum and dad sent me to what must have been the most enlightened primary school in the Midlands. Alongside the usual (yawn) reading, writing and arithmetic, we had art and music ‘appreciation’ lessons. Every year, the whole school would pack up and take the train to London. Disembarking at St. Pancras, we’d form little blue-and-white-uniformed crocodiles that trugged across to the National Gallery. One of my earliest memories is on one such trip, standing in front of a painting, and being completely and utterly beguiled.

So it makes perfect sense to me to drag Milo (often kicking, sometimes screaming) to every museum and gallery Greater Manchester has to offer. So far, so good: his general reaction to such outings is to thrash his arms, wriggle his legs and give a Beavis and Butthead-style giggle. This, in Milo speak, means I Like It Here Very Much.

And so we found ourselves in Manchester Museum. It’s one of my all-time favourite such establishments. Inside, you’ll find a full-size replica of a T.Rex. There’s the Mammals Hall which, as the name suggests, is full of Victorian display cases stuffed to the gills with, um, stuffed animals. Upstairs lie several mummies, whose dessicated remains I always, always hurry past. (I swear they come alive at night.)

On our last visit, we bumped into an acquaintance.

‘Have you been to the play and learn centre?’ he asked.

‘The play and what?’

He kindly directed me to the top floor. There, in the atrium above the Mammals Hall, Milo and I found what appeared to be a remarkably well-appointed living room. Sofas, scatter cushions, colourful rugs for the parents. Activity tables, museum objects to draw, books and toys for the kids. Even tables, chairs and highchairs for an impromptu picnic.

There was no one up there bar me and Milo. All it needed was a TV in the corner playing endless re-runs of Friends and I’d have felt right at home.

‘Hey, what do you think of this?’ I asked Milo as he began gnawing the edges of a book.

‘Hurr-hurr hurr-hurr,’ he replied, chucking the book halfway across the room with a grin.

Well, would you look at that, I thought. Milo loves museums almost as much as I do.

Ratings. Babychanging facilities: Yes. Cafe: Yes, with highchairs. Buggy-friendly? Yes. Staff: Friendly. Cost: Free. Worth it? Yes, loads of activities, kid-friendly displays plus that play and learn centre.

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