Read about my research at Plymouth here
It’s strange that I’ve never actually visited Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery for leisure before, but with fast-approaching plans that might mean it’s closed for a while, and with items on display that I wished to gaze upon, I decided it was about time.
(N.B. I’m afraid I didn’t actually make it to the Art Gallery floor due to train constraints, plus I know very little about art and my opinions and understanding would probably not be too insightful. When I’m next there I’ll take a gander and update this post!)
It was warm and muggy, but upon entering the fantastic listed building, and gazing upon the more recent aspects of local history in the cool foyer, I felt the usual sense of calm contentedness I get from museums. It’s instinctive to head left into the ethnographic gallery, which is filled with material from all over the world and replica drums and xylophones to play, which naturally occupied me for about ten minutes.The following gallery represents the endeavours of past collectors in Egypt who have gathered up material and shipped it back to Britain.
This feeds into the archaeology gallery.
This large room covers the usual spread of periods from prehistory to medieval, focusing on the local history and collections, though presents it all in a variety of styles.
Objects of status, agriculture and death fill every display case without feeling overwhelming and it’s easy to get lost drifting around this room for ages, especially with so many pretty bronze things. Not to mention, there’s plenty of opportunity for childish games and playing dress-up.
Unfortunately, there were too many hats and too little time and I had to abandon my costume-wearing selfies on account of the arrival of small children in the gallery. The next room focuses on perhaps the most important aspect of Plymouth’s history – the port. The development of boats over thousands of years has to be one of the coolest feats of engineering and the Plymouth Port and Place gallery capitalises on this fully.
Every case contains several models of different boats that have been designed and/or constructed at Plymouth, intermitted with the various medals and memorabilia of the glorious imperial age.
And, as any gallery should, there’s another dress-up box in one corner.
Feeling I’d earned a break, I treated myself to a cup of tea in the café/shop and moved on to the Natural History gallery, which has to be one of the better Natural History galleries I’ve been to. There’s a tendency with Natural History to cram cases with far far too many examples of bad taxidermy, insects and jars of indistinguishable creatures, but this felt much more relaxed. The display cases held everything I just listed, of course, but the main features were the interactive aspects, with quizzes on objects, “touch-me” exhibits and weird things to smell.
As with all of these museum overviews, I’m only describing a fraction of what’s on offer, but hopefully it gives you a glimpse of what wonderful things are available to see at Plymouth City Museum and if like me you’ve lived nearby for ages but have never been, I highly recommend you to go.