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We had a great time here
Milestones Museum (Basingstoke)
Member Name: azana
Milestones Museum (Basingstoke)
Date: 11/02/09, updated on 12/02/09 (580 review reads)
Advantages: Living museum which is all indoors
Disadvantages: Why has no one heard of it?
I visited this museum, which is a "living museum", recreating how life used to be, in early 2009 with my family. We had a great time, but even though I live less than an hour away no one I know seems to have heard of it! This is a great shame as I think it is a great museum to visit for a morning or afternoon, especially for children and families.
As I went on a family visit, and also as there is another excellent and comprehensive review on the dooyoo website which details all the facilities and directions, I will focus on looking at the museum from the point of view of being a family trip. Before going and researching this aspect I couldn't find any information from this perspective, so I hope this information will be useful to someone.
Details of how to get to the museum are to be found on the museum's website http://www3.hants.gov.uk/milestones along with current admission prices, again I feel that the website sells the museum short, there are not many images or any idea as to how big the museum is.
When I visited it cost £7.50 per adult (a quick google found me 2 for 1 voucher for this) and under 5's were free,, a child costing £4.50 and a family of 4 ticket being £22. This was fair value for money I felt, we also purchased and old penny and sweet ration card for use in the museum, for 60p, more of which later.
When you approach the museum through what appears to be a retail park it doesn't look very promising, it is housed in what looks like a giant hanger and looks like it has been plonked there! On entry things look up - or down actually as the museum is actually down a level from the entrance and is all undercover and slightly below ground level. This is great from a family trip angle for a rainy afternoon, and it was indeed very grim outside the day we visited.
The museum has 2 main street areas in it, 1930's and Victorian. There are recreations of various houses, shops, workshops and plenty of vehicules to look at all from the time. Children can choose worksheets to do, these were well conceived and my 5 year old was happy with her clipboard and an "eye spy" activity where she had to tick items as she saw them.
There were a quite a few people there in costume, I don't know if they were volunteers or paid, some were very friendly indeed whilst a few others seemed to spend all the time we were there just standing chatting to each other and could have made a little more effort. Still, the sweet vendor was very jolly, the children got to take their old penny and buy a week's sweet ration which, clearly, disappeared in about 10 minutes!
Everything was laid out quite well and though the cobbles are a little tricky for toddlers to navigate there was plenty to look at. The room sets of how houses used to be in the 50's, 60's and 70's were great fun, though made me feel old as there was much "when I was a child TV's weren't colour you know" and explaining how things were in "the olden times" as my daughter put it most tactfully!
The children also enjoyed the various activities aimed at them on the way round - there were a few toys and also a fantastic mini post office with letters to sort, uniforms and a fantastic post box which thanked you loudly every time you posted a letter. This kept the children busy for a fair while.
It would have been nice had there been some sort of craft or colouring activity on offer, but to be fair there was plenty to see. We enjoyed the dressing up area and the girls made lovely ragamuffins!
There was a nice cafe at the exit and a small shop with plenty of pocket money small toys.
All in all the museum exceeded our expectations (which had been gleaned from the museum's website). I have been to quite a few other "living" museums with reconstructed streets in, having grown up near what is probably one of the original ones Ironbridge, and also being a visitor of The Black Country Museum in the Midlands which aims to do a similar thing. This museum perhaps lacks the passion for the past of the two other museums I have mentionned, but it is perhaps not a fair comparison as Milestones is essentially a made indoors museum. In any event it is well worth a visit for a family to spend an afternoon or morning having fun and I have recommended it to a few of my friends - Milestones if you read this just sell yourselves a bit more as I think you have a lot to offer!
Summary: A look at what there is to do for families at Milestones
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