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Take a New Walk... you might find you love it!
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery (Leicester)
Member Name: gracefacedaisy
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery (Leicester)
Advantages: Fantastic permanent exhibitions, family-friendly, suitable for all ages, a great day out!
Disadvantages: I would have liked it to be bigger so that there could be more exhibitions!
I visited this museum in November solely because of its new exhibition on German Expressionist artwork, as I am currently completing an A-level art project on the Expressionist movement. I was expecting a tiny exhibition room with few other permanent exhibitions, but happily I was proved wrong!
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery is located a few minutes' walk from the train station and is also close to a multi-storey car park. I found the building and location themselves very pleasing to the eye; it is a tall white building with impressive columns set in a leafy green square in the historic New Walk area of Leicester.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that admission was absolutely free, even to the temporary exhibition! This suggests to me that it would be a brilliant place to take families.
Indeed the exhibitions downstairs are clearly geared towards inquisitive children and parents. 'Wild Space' explores the different areas and climates which exist on Earth, and how the animals who live there have adapted to their surroundings. The exhibition space contains 5 different zones; Antarctic and Arctic, under the sea, the African savannah, the rainforest and the desert. In each zone there are life-size models of animals that would typically live in that environment (the models looked so realistic that I thought they might be stuffed, but I really have no idea about these things!). Of course there are interactive elements for this exhibitions, involving pressing buttons to hear about different animals or watch videos about different environments. There is also a tunnel for small children to crawl through which looks at life underground, which looked fun (although I thought it might be a bit inappropriate for me to go in it!).
I was also thoroughly impressed by the Ancient Egyptian exhibition. Like many children I was fascinated by Egyptian mummies from an early age, and I went to the Egyptian zone at the British Museum in London. While there is nowhere near the amount of mummies and artefacts at New Walk Museum, there are still 5 well-preserved mummies to look at, complete with their respective coffins, which are beautifully decorated. The way this exhibition is organised is exciting for children - the exhibition takes you on a journey through the Egyptian death into the afterlife, using various artefacts such as canopic jars and vases to illustrate different stages. I thought this exhibition was brilliant for both adults and children, and I loved it!
The other two permanent exhibitions which would have been suitable for children especially have now been closed until 2011 for major refurbishment, but there was an amazing skeleton of a dinosaur in one of these exhibitions which you would do well to visit after the refurbishment is over.
I took a brief glance into the World Arts gallery upstairs, but as we were running out of time I did not get a chance to have a proper look round it. From what I saw, however, it appeared to be different artefacts from different cultures, typically textiles work or pots. I would have liked to have looked into it further as it seemed very interesting, and I would recommend that you do, as there were things in there to interest adults and older children.
The final exhibition I am going to talk about is 'Journey out of Darkness' located on the upper floor. This is only a temporary exhibition but its duration has been extended due to popular demand to 3rd May 2010, so you should all come and visit it! You may have guessed that I was thoroughly impressed by this exhibition in particular. For a fairly minor gallery, this is a remarkable collection of Expressionist artwork. It includes a great deal of artworks from private collections which were rescued from Nazi Germany, as the Nazis condemned most Expressionist artwork as 'degenerate'. It had a huge amount of prints, but also some stunning paintings. The jewel in the crown of the exhibition is 'Red Woman' by Franz Marc. Marc rarely painted figures, but this portrait of a red-skinned primitive woman is, I believe, one of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen.
As for facilities, the museum has an excellent shop, selling books relating to the exhibitions (I picked up a very useful one relating to the German Expressionists) which target children and adults. There are also various toys available for children. The cafe is also lovely. It is not very big but it has a very relaxed atmosphere and reasonable prices. I would also very much recommend the hot chocolate, it is delicious! I believe that the museum is also wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Overall, I simply cannot contain my enthusiasm for this museum, it is absolutely brilliant! It caters for families, art enthusiasts, history fans and those who just have curious minds, and it makes for a fantastic trip out on a cold or rainy day. It is open from 10am - 5pm every day except Sunday (when it opens at 11) and I absolutely recommend it!
Summary: It is utterly brilliant!
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