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Easter holidays. No money to spend. Kids driving me mad. So, what can entertain them, educate them, and defend the integrity of my pocket? Museum! After a quick discussion around the available options, the Manchester Museum, part of the University complex on Oxford Road, won. The Museum itself benefited from a multi million pound refurbishment a couple of years ago and charges nowt for admission ? one of New Labour?s better decisions since coming to power. The cynic in me would question the value obtained from the refurbishment, but as a source of interest and education, there a few places better in the North of England. The first problem encountered was parking. On previous visits to this part of Manchester, I have always enjoyed using the hospital car park nearby. Unfortunately some carbuncle of a healthcare building has been placed on this location, so a 10 minute drive eventually found a £3 a day nearly full car park 5 minutes walk from the Museum entrance. Inside, we were met by a reception desk but no eye contact. It seems that you should just wander in and start walking round! So, after a quick visit to the gents for the little one, we did just that. The Museum itself is set on 4 floors, with lift access for the disabled and toilet facilities on the two upper levels as well as in the basement. Visitors can take photographs for personal use, but do need to obtain authority for this from the reception. Opening hours can vary, but you can ring 0161 275 2630 for advice. Educational facilities beyond the exhibits are also available but should be arranged prior to visits. So, what is there to see? Ground Floor A display of meteorites, the planets in scale and fossils (big and small) as well as dinosaur skeletons (not on the same scale as the British Museum, but impressive nonetheless). A wide range of rocks and minerals too, from across the UK and beyond. First Floor Mammals. Life size polar bears, lions, tigers, cheetahs. An elephant skeleton. Numerous antelopes. And then, for me, the highlight. Mummies! Many very dead, very real, Egyptian mummies! Those bandages do not half discolour over the centuries. In addition, lots of relics of ancient Egypt tell us about the life and times, with things like tools of pyramid building, sandals etc all taken from real excavations in the Land Of The Pharaoh. Again, nothing as grand a Tutenkhamun, but an impressive collection all the same. You can also explore the inside of a human cell! This is a great piece of fun for the kids, and is far better than anything found inside the ill fated Millenium Dome. Second Floor The birds. Hundreds of our feathered friends from across the world. I could not find any Dodo, which disappointed my five year old who is in love with the Dodo form the film Ice Age, but we did find all sorts of owls, eagles, sparrows etc to look at. The Vivarium and Aquarium house a number a non-poisonous snakes and extremely poisonous frogs. My kids were particularly excited by the boa constrictor! Mediterranean archaeology is also a feature of this floor, tracing mankind back to Greek, Roman and even Phoenician empires. You get information on language and cultural changes across the centuries, as well as the rise and fall of various civilisations. Third Floor Save this until the kids get a little bit fidgety. This is the most interactive part of the visit, allowing kids (and adults) to play with computers, put the insides of a human body together, match up DNA and look at a video of a real live foetus! Oh, and you can also check your pulse rate. This is certainly the modern science part of the visit and is quite good fun too. I do strongly recommend a visit. It was an enjoyable half day for my 3 kids (you could do the Trafford Centre af ter finishing here, or catch a bus down to the Golden mile in Rusholme and pick up a good curry) and I loved it too. If I am to be critical, I would question the value obtai ned by the multi million pound refit and some of the supposedly interactive things were in a poor state of repair, although this was the exception and not the rule. The small shop is best visited prior to leaving, to avoid dragging stuff round with you. Personally, I would not bother. There is little of interest to buy! For a free trip, this could be just what you need! Thank you for reading.
I went to Manchester Museum recently expecting something fablulous as they had just spent millions revamping. Well to say I was let down is an understatement. To give them their dues they have moved and improved the gift shop, there a few more displays and the live aquarium is great. But....... My daughter and I went to see the specific things, one of these being the Mummy that has a microscope so you can see inside it. The microscope was positioned so you could not look into it, and help was not at hand as I was told there was nothing they could do. The planets exhibit was also not working. The lights were out in the cases on the animals and birds exhibits so you couldn't see them at all, alot of the hands on stuff in the body section was not working at all, and was there anywhere to get a coffee....hell no! The toilets where very modern and clean. I wouldn't mind if these things had only been faulty that day, but I was talking to a friend who had been weeks before when it was first showing off the work and they were not working then. So Manchester Museum where did all the money go? Gripes aside it is still worth a visit, as it is free and has excellent dinosaur exhibits.