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The Greatest Concrete slab of them all
Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery (Doncaster)
Member Name: willtheman
Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery (Doncaster)
Advantages: Fascinating exhibits, free, good fun, very educational
Disadvantages: Ugly building(see review), poor lay out
Doncaster may be a small town but it has a vibrant history. Romans invaded the Don. which is home to lots of wildlife. It also made the two most famous trains of all time-Mallard and The Flying Scotsman. So its only too righ to have a museum. And it must have a good museum. This one does it proud...
Open Monday to saturday 10am -5pm
Admission is free-yay!
The Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery
Phone number: 01302 734293
The Museum is right next doo to a park near the centre of Doncaster. Doncaster is in South Yorkshire and is easily accesible from the M1, The M18 and A1(M) meaning that its got loads of BIG roads going towards it. The museum is on a fairly major road and is signposted most of the way. Its down a little street next door to a church. Parking is free but you must register your vehicle at reception!
The only set of toilets are at the very start near the gift shop. There clean and the doors are power assisted which means they are easily accessible by wheelchair users.
There's a shop next door to reception. It isn't full of tacky rubbish like most shops. Its home to some nice jewellery, bird sculptures to go on your mantlepiece-a nice array of books , some lovely necklaces -and one or two pencials and pens and it is very reasonably priced
Unfortunately the museum doesn't have a cafe but just opposit it is a little cafe called The upper Crust which has limited hours and is quite nice and reasonable.
I think that's all the basics out of the way. Phew....
I'm going too do a little bit about Doncaster. Doncaster is a reasonably ized town in South Yorkshire-which applied for city status but failed to get it. It is most famous for its locomotive works and there are still some massive sidings and lots of railways here. It is also well known for its racecourse-Doncaster racecouirse which is quite near the museum. It is also home to the Northern Racing College.
Doncaster is getting a sort of revamp and now the roundabouts are full of lovely colourful flowers most of them making shapes like trains. A major redevelopemt is of a big lake-The keepmoat lake to the North which is a lovely big lake and is next to The Keepmoat Stadium home to Doncaster Rovers.
Other attractions include Cusworth hall home to the museum of South Yorkshier Life, Potteric carr a wonderful nature reserve on the outskirts where you can often see the elusive biitern and Aeroventure an aircraft museum.
The exterior of doncaster Museum isn't very nice. Unlike Sheffield Museum or the Natural History Museum it isn't a wondeful piece of victorian architecture.
Put crudely, it is massive slab of ugly concrete . Which is sad really because that might put people off. However the front is now home to a lovely garden which includes( as you can see in the picture) some cracking sculptures.
yes finally we on to the museum.
After going in the very first(and largest) exhibit is all about the Don through time. Its very interesting and to make it more kiddie friendly the walls are errm... themed.
The firs thing you pass is a nice display of stuffed animals. The reason why it is nice is because it puts the animals in a tableau of their natural habitat so looks much better than just in a case.
The very first bit is on the Don in the Stone Age. A re-created Stone Age cave is home to a big grizzly bear who roars at you as you go past-scary for little ones! There is also some waxworks of some Stone Age people who have a cut open a fish-pretty gruseome. There's a quick and easy game for kids before you meet a (dead) grey seal who you have to feel sorry for-he is so cute and adorable.
To the side is a woodland scene -a wonderful re-creation home to some glamarous foxes and the loevly badges. Crawling under you can see the foxes and badgers in their den'sett and on the other side is a magnificent stag.
The last exhibit in this'gallery' is a duck decoy-a place where ducks are captured. You walk through a mock up of one and beyond some galss are some reall mallard's swimming towards a err...painting.
Th glass is almost invisible-I have seen young kids crash into it not noticing its there!
Anyway that's enough on the Natural History section...
I'm going to cover the trains now. It isn't a particualry big exhibit-a couple of panels , one display case and two 'trains' (more about them in a minute) but for some reason its my favourite(mainly because I love trains) The boards mostly tell you about the works and the display case is home to a cracking model of the Flying Scotsman and some number p;lates.
At the bottom are two things.
Both are big.
Both are interactive.
One is a 'train' which is really a big falt metal thing that they used to use on farms which kids can climb on.
The other is supposed to be a driving thing from a train. Kids can sit behind it and push butons , turn levers and pretend they are driving a train-yay!
The next exhibit is all about bricks.
Boring you say.
Actually its fascinating. Its a good size and all the display boards are surrounded by bricks and are in brickish colour. Its mostly about sandstone-and about a chap who buit his house out of sandstone as well as some sculptures.
One sculpture is here-an elephant.
Its quite flat but its simply beautiful_ I love elephnats they are charming adn this is nothing short of a great sculpture.
There's also a displey about where the names of brciks come from and a bit where you can touch bricks made from different materials -some hurt your skin.
There's a game where you can make a wall from brciks.
A small alcove off the brick exhibt is about coal. Its quite small and is mostly full of picture and writing-so will be a bit boring for the little ones but there's a nice old fossilised tree here to keep them occupied.
Next up is a bit about Doncaster in different periods.
The first is the iron age-there's a quite good display board about housing where they make a for sale sign for an iron age roundhouse-an interesting idea which seems to work. There's also a display on a weird fort.
Next up is the Romans-its the biggest bit because the Romans occupied the Don so here there is a fine collection of Roman pottery as well as lots of displays. They have very cleverly made the baords look like a flga.
There is also a skeleton here which is very interesting -and gruseome! He was even put in a coffin!
There's a quick bit on the Anglo Saxons about a chap who used to make pottery then and a re-creation of his workshop-interesting.
There's a nice game up here where you ahev to pretend to be boats on the Don and have to get to the dock or something like that by passing dangers-its quite good fun and there's also a little fishing rod type game where you have to catch a perch-although neither are ground0breakign they are certainly highly enjoyable.
There's a quick display on the racecourse and some shields form then -which are pretty impressive and gleam in the light.
The medieval display is interesting its msotly about castles and by pressing a button you can light up a stunning model of a castle.
There are a few other displays here about Donnie in the middle ages.
The Georgian area is okay but I personally prefer the Victorian area-it gives you a good insight onto what was happening then and why-there's even an old school desk-much different to the ones we have now!
The final bit has a computer where you can research things and find out about different people and a bit on Doncaster Rovers which includes origianl tikcets ,billboards and programmes.
You come out into a big open display full of cars. It doesn't have as many exhibits as the others but takes up the most room. The cars are mostly old and were all made/designed in Doncaster.
The cars are all very clean and shiny and are very interesting-looking inside the windows the seats now look uncomfortable and the radios oldfashioned.
The cars are quite interesting but there not my favourite display.
There's also the Free King's Regiment Museum next to the history area. This is quite big and is mostly home to brightly coloured(mostly red) uniforms and camoflaugue clothes in tableau.
There's also a big plaque commemorating all who died as well as a good collection. There was also a room full of HUNDREDS of medals , gleaming silently .
It isn't the most interesting display ever but its wirth a pop in but I think it closes at 4.
Upstairs after passing a pretty cool aircraft is the art gallery.
Its reasonably sized and there's quite a few rooms but art isn't really my thing.
There are a few nice paintings but most are weird abstract ones which I can't get my head round and boring portraits of poncey nobles. yawn.
One painting has a special display to it-oen of the racecourse which is home 100 different people all painted well. It mustv'e taken so long...
Although it wasn't my sort of thing it was impressive.
Apparently you would pay for yourself to be put in the picture.
The only thing I liked about the art gallery was one of those big cardboard thing that you put your head through to make you look like someone else-there are steps up to this for the little ones and a mirror so you can look at yourself.
There are plenty of seats in the gallery.
There is also a fabulous collection of pottery upstairs-I mean fabuolous-its a massive collection and there all wonderful and definitely deserve a mention.
I'm not even into pottery but I have to admit these were good.
Phew...that's it. It takes a couple of hours to get around.
Donations are accepted and there is a big box for them at the start.
There is also a puzzle for little kids to find all 5 pictures of bears around the exhibits-easier said than done.
The Regiment Museum is only open till 4pm I think.
I have to admit this is a good museum.
How could a concrete slab be so interesting?
They do have some interactive exhibits but they don't overstep the mark and make the interactive idea 'tacked on'. Sometimes I feel if museums have too many interactive displays they don't really tell you much and aren't educational and are just games-I don't wanna pay 8 quid to play a game-however Doncaster doesn't oversstep the mark and keep it at the right amount.
Its exhibits are well though out and well pieced together with interesting objects and information. The best thing is each display is designed to fit in to that period .
The only two negatives I have are the fact that its really concrete from outside and that its quite hard to get around everything because the lay out isn't the greatest ever.
They are only minor quibbles and they definitely can't detract from an interesting, informative, fascianting and great day out.
What other concrete blod can say its is interestinf and fascinating full of traesures on the inside that are amazing.
I can't think of one-most are just that-ca concrete blob-nothing spcials about them nothing interesting and make a rubbish day out.
Not Doncaster museum though. Its a fascianting concrete blob. And a concrete blob that promises a great day out and endless enjoyment.
Summary: A concrete slab full of treasures
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