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There's a ship on the horizon with deep sea diving!
Aberdeen Maritime Museum (Aberdeen)
Member Name: kiwiii85
Aberdeen Maritime Museum (Aberdeen)
Date: 23/02/09, updated on 25/02/09 (170 review reads)
Advantages: It's free, educaitonal, hands on, informative
Disadvantages: Cafe was quite expensive
I recently took a trip to Aberdeen Maritime museum with my 1 year old daughter and 5 year old nephew. The trip was meant to be something different to do with them that didn't cost us a fortune. I remember my dad taking me here as a child and I enjoyed it just as much this time as I did then.
~~ Where is it ~~
The maritime museum is located in the centre of aberdeen only a short walk from the main shopping street. Located on ship row, it is close to both the historic castlegate and the busy harbour. The museum is a modern building with lovely big windows overlooking the harbour, yet it also incorporates Provost Ross's House which was built in 1593.
~~ Accesibility ~~
The maritime museum was rebuilt a few years ago and has disabled access to all levels and an induction loop system is available. There is lift access to all floors which was perfect for me as we had my daughters buggy with us.
~~ Price ~~
Admission is free for all which is very unusual these days. There is a gift shop which is relatively expensive and a Cafe which I will get to in a moment.
~~ The exhibits ~~
The museum tells the history of Aberdeen Harbour and the Ship building industry in Aberdeen. Through photographs, blue prints and journals it tells the story of most of the ships built in Aberdeen. There are comprehensive lists of useful information about the ships. For example, the cargo they carried, where they sailed to and if that isn't enough, there are plenty of models too. There are also computers set up throughout with touch screens or rollerballs full of information. At these stations there are two headsets where you can watch short films and clips on various periods in history.
There is a drawing office set up as how I imagine it would have been and a ships cabin complete with treasure chest. My nephew absolutely loved this as he is pirate mad these days and my little girl brightened up just because he did!
Everything from old cast iron diving suits to submersibles can be found here. My nephew loved this part and thought the diving suits were a joke. The exhibits are set up in such a way that touching and exploring them is possible. There's nothing worse than going somewhere that you're too scared to touch or keeping the kids at your side scared they might break something. The older and more fragile exhibits are kept in glass cabinets in order to preserve them but this isn't a big problem at all. Examples of these are maps, letters, old tools and medals.
~~ Oil industry
It wouldn't be Aberdeen if it didnt have a whole floor relating to the oil industry. A huge Scale model of an oil rig is suspended from the ceiling and is viewable from 3 floors with information about how it works. The nice touches are the model people, this means that children can grasp a concept of the scale. An extra little touch is that at the top of the oil rig they have a box with a construction toy so children can attempt to make their own oil platform. As you can imagine, my daughter and my nephew both had great fun with this. He is at that perfect age where he wants to explore and figure things out for himself. My daughter idolises him so just wants to copy what he is doing!
There is information about aurvival suits and survival training (necessity for anyone working on the rigs) and there are videos showing this training taking place. They have recreated the sleeping quarters as it would be on an oil rig with 4 bunks and storage lockers.
A scene is set up showing the oil workers drilling and there is the set up of a control panel with lights on the wall flashing. This makes the whole experience very realistic for adults and children alike and we had a great time exploring. I've lived in Aberdeen for over 20 years but I don't really know much about the oil industry, despite us being the Oil Capital of Europe. The Maritime Museum definitely enhances your knowledge and gives you an experience you probably won't find elsewhere.
In this section there are also computers which allow you to recreate the control of a submersible and see true life pictures on the screen. My nephew also loved this as it made it more realistic for him and he was fascinated by how things used to be.
~~ Other exhibits
There is a room of Provest Ross's house dedicated to the history of radio and television. My son was captured by the size of the wireless and the huge old fashioned black and white TVs. I remember having a conversation with my dad but even then we didn't even have widescreen Tvs, never mind flat screens.
There is an old lighthouse light which is in the lower ground floor (in the cafe) and goes up over two floors. There is also a variety of artwork which includes sculptures, models and oil paintings of various boats and sea life.
~~ Children ~~
This museum actively encourages children and this is something which I love. I have taken my nephew places where a hand on a sculpture recevied tuts, sighs and dirty looks (we quickly left there). The Maritime museum issues a worksheet to children and we call it the pirate treasure hunt. It tells you which floor it is on and you have to find a named boat or fact so it encourages children to actively take part. The exhibits needed are often marked with a parrot or a pirate making them easier to find. My nephew is still a little young and he did find some of the clues hard to understand but he loved looking for pirates and parrots. At the end you go back to the information desk and they will give you a badge.
A lot of the exhibits have vidoes and doccumentaries which my nephew also loved as he didnt have to wait for me to read all about the exhibits to him. Most of the Maritime Museum allowed him to be independent and he's at the perfect age where he is learning independence.
When I took my nephew and daughter there was a pirate workshop on in the education room. The children were shown how to make pirate hats, eye patches, treasure maps, flags and cards. They were shown a demonstration of each simple make first and then given a free reign. This was also free with plentiful supplies of arts and crafts material to keep the children occupied. This doesn't run all of the time, but is it definitely one to watch out for.
~~ Cafe and facilities ~~
The cafe is located in the lower gound floor and is called the lighthouse cafe. It has the light I mentioned earlier in the corner and photos of various lighthouses from all over scotland. The cafe and toilets are clean which is something I always check before taking my daughter. There's nothing worse than going for lunch in somewhere that looks like it is lunch!
The cafe serves soup, sandwhiches, toasted sandwiches, baked potatos, chips, burgers, fried breakfast and cakes, pancakes and homebakes. We had two toasted sandwiches and two drinks for £8.50 which I thought was expensive but the admission was free so I guess they have to cover overheads somehow. The food is freshly cooked to order and it is nice enough but nothing special.
~~ My Verdict ~~
Educational, yet fun for the children. A lot of detailed exhibits for adults although I walked past most of these because I had the two children with me. My nephew really enjoyed himself and he was really pleased with his pirate makes and badge. He enjoyed looking out of the window at the harbour and trying to spot the ships that displayed on the wall. I will definitely take my daughter and nephew here again and I would recommend it to anyone, even if they aren't initially excited by the thought of a Maritime Museum.
Summary: I would definitely recommend this to everyone.
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