How often is it that you have travelled miles to visit museums (or visited local museums when on holiday) but not visited the ones in your own or nearby town?
Today was overcast and gloomy so we shelved our plans for an outside day until later in the school holidays and ventured nearer to home to the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum. The museum is signed up to the Kids in Museums manifesto so we were expecting it to be pretty family friendly.
The Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum is located in the old Royal Pump Rooms: the local collection and medical collection in the old Turkish baths and the Art Gallery in the former hydrotherapy pool room. The art gallery and museum is very well signposted and easily accessible (level access with automatic doors) and there is plenty of space to move around. A sign on the desk said to ask about children’s trails, so we did and were given ‘The Museum Trail – 2. Civic life in Leamington’ (along with a pencil and a clipboard) which is in the museum part and also told where the special Children’s Gallery is.
The Littlesheeps set off to explore the museum – first we went through the ‘Hammam’ part of the Turkish Bath and then through the medical collection (they weren’t really that interested as they were itching to get started on their ‘worksheet’) to get to the local collection.
Disappointingly the three page worksheet we were given was entirely focused on just the first three cabinets in the collection which meant it was very intense filling it in and then there was nothing to encourage them to look for specific things in the rest of the display. Also frustratingly some of the questions related to items that were too high for them to see / read the labels of easily.
Then we returned the clipboard and pencil to the information desk and went to explore Haddie’s Gallery which is the specific children’s gallery.
This is a separate room (so slightly less worry about disturbing the grown ups!) with brightly coloured displays with things to touch. Middle Littlesheep enjoyed reading all of Haddie’s speech bubbles to find out more about how Haddie came to Leamington and more about life in Victorian Leamington. There was also a well stocked colouring table with piles of colouring sheets featuring Haddie and other Victorian scenes and there was a Town Clerks punch so that you could make your own imprint.
After we had finished in the museum the weather had dried up a bit so we went across the road to explore Jephson Gardens.
I’m not sure which bit of the day the boys liked best – I guess the running around in the park (and the visit to the pirate ship play area) but I’m sure they learnt something about why Leamington is officially Royal Leamington Spa (Queen Victoria gave it a Royal Charter), what a Spa is (spring of ‘health’ waters) and how the elephants came to be in Leamington!