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Time travel in Chester - where's Doctor Who?
Grosvenor Museum (Chester)
Member Name: werewolf2
Grosvenor Museum (Chester)
Advantages: free entry, good as a wet weather attraction, good interactive displays
Disadvantages: not enough to hold our interest; too many glass cases; no lift
BACKGROUND: I had planned a weekend trip to Chester for my boyfriend and me and looking online (on this review site), I saw the Grosvenor Museum advertised. Reading this review, I decided it would be ideal for us to visit and it was free entry! This swayed it – we had to see what it was like. I printed off the review to show my boyfriend and he was hooked too, so the decision was made.
1. The first room on the left as you enter has a video display about the history of Chester which we didn’t watch as it was part way through and we decided not to disturb the other people watching it in order to read the Chester timeline panels.
2. The first room on the right had a display about China/Japan (don’t ask me why I do not know), which had interactive activities for the children of making an origami crane (bird) and trying on a Kimono. Robert really liked the designs in this room and it had displays of swords and regalia, which he is into. I tried to do the origami but found the instructions difficult to understand and failed to make the bird.
3. Go back in time from the 17th century to the 1930s in specially designed rooms where there are interactive displays (like guess why Mr so-and-so is (or isn’t) welcome in the Victorian household and put the pictures together to show what people were wearing down the centuries). These exhibits are through the shop area and are on 2 floors – although there was a small lift to get you down the (2 or 3) stairs into the shop, I am unsure if there was a lift to the Stuart rooms above the Victorian and 1930’s wedding display, although I think there might have been. These were really interesting and I enjoyed them especially as this area seemed to be a well-kept secret – we were alone for ages in this area.
4. Computerised catalogue – after the shop and before the special rooms as outlined in 3 above were a few computers where you could search the exhibits catalogues for specific people or items. I had a play on this and found it quite interesting but it seemed wasted and there was nobody to ask if you didn’t know how to use it. It may be a useful resource for school parties.
5. Displays about Roman Chester (including how they locked doors and made archways). Robert really enjoyed playing with these interactive exhibits but the room was really quiet otherwise and he got quite a few stares so I got embarrassed and we ended up moving on quickly. This spoiled it for me – yes I am 34 but I like to learn by doing things and the interactive displays hold more interest for me than standing reading loads of stuff – although if it is a topic that interests me I will read most displays.
6. Explore “hands on” geology and natural history of the area (there was a room with plenty of stuffed animals in it but didn’t seem to have very many hand on exhibits – the microscope one wasn’t working very well and we didn’t get to see the other one as someone else was using it). – Note, this is upstairs and I am unsure if there was a lift.
7. Art galleries – 2 rooms upstairs (not sure if there was a lift as we used the stairs but I didn’t see one). Robert and I found this area extremely dull and Robert even refused to go in one of them.
8. Conservatory Shop – some reasonably priced items but we didn’t buy anything so cannot comment on service etc.
9. Tea & coffee in the Kings Arms Kitchen – must admit I didn’t see a café. Upstairs we did find a room that looked like a mayor’s committee room with panelling, fancy seats and it had maces and swords over the seating areas. I wondered what it was and as I came out noticed a sign stating that it was the school party lunch area! This had a coffee-making machine outside. We made a hasty retreat and wondered why such a posh room had been allocated as the lunch area. This is the Kings Arm kitchen according to my Grosvenor Museum leaflet and is therefore not available for disabled people.
We arrived on a coach trip and then used the City Sightseeing bus to drop us off a few doors down from the Museum at stop 12 on Grosvenor Road, Chester
Free, although you can make a donation
If you get a Chester Attractions leaflet from the Tourist Information centre or other attractions, you get 10% discount in the Museum shop.
Mon-Sat 10.30am to 5pm, Sunday 1pm to 4pm
Closed Christmas, New Year’s Day and Good Friday.
We went on a Sunday and although we arrived just after 1pm, we only spent an hour and a half here so don’t expect to stay all day here, although you might spend longer if you have children who try every activity available
1. Interactive displays in some but not all rooms
2. It was free to enter
3. Something to pass the time in Chester on a Sunday
4. Suitable for educational groups especially as a wet weather attraction
5. Open all year (with 3 days closed as above)
6. Bus and train services available nearby, including open bus tour (see other review).
1. Not very good for disabled access as Chester attractions leaflet states, “There is independent access to ground floor galleries, stairs to the first floor”. This may be because it is an old building that would be costly to add a lift too.
2. Chester timeline – to read the panels would be difficult as it is dark and there is a video going on in the background.
3. There are too many objects in glass cases, with little interest for children or adults. The interactive displays are in the same rooms and people reading the information dislike the noise of children (or in our case big kids) playing with them.
4. Roman stones gallery – dull, uninteresting and no interactive displays or person to ask for more information about this display.
5. No staff available to discuss exhibits except in art gallery – only other members of staff seen were on reception and in the shop.
6. Nearest parking is the Little Roodee car park some distance away – not suitable for disabled to walk to museum from. Although there is apparently a park and ride scheme with a bus stop on request opposite the museum but it is not clear if this is available from the car park.
Decide where else to go or whether to go back another time. In our case, we decided that we have “done” Chester! We had visited this museum, the Deva Roman Experience (see review), the Chester Visitor Centre and Amphitheatre excavations, and the Military Museum as well as gone on the City sightseeing tour, walked on the walls including near the Eastgate clock, walked through the city centre and seen various places of interest such as the canal, the King Charles Tower, the Cathedral (from the outside only – Robert is terrified of going inside churches with me, in case I either trick him into marrying me or get dragged into a church service by mistake (and I do have previous for the latter!)), the ruins of St John’s church where we saw a coffin in the wall (yes, really!), the River Dee, God’s Providence house, and where the town crier shouts from daily in certain months. Not bad for a weekend! We failed to find the Toy Museum, though, so if anyone knows where it is – we might go back for that and we did say we’d like to visit the zoo another time.
MORE INFORMATION FROM
The Grosvenor Museum, 27 Grosvenor Street, Chester CH1 2DD Tel 01244 402008 www.grosvenormuseum.co.uk. Please note that I have not checked the website personally as I didn’t know it existed until I returned and we have no inclination to return to this particular attraction, so have no need to visit the website.
Disabled Access –
1. Step free access by platform lifts to ground floor galleries and shop.
2. Fully accessible toilet
3. Induction loop in the Lecture Theatre, Shop and on reception desk
4. Braille and large print gallery labels available on request
Summary: Good interactive displays, with a variety of topics but boring in places with cases
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