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The Puzzling Place (Keswick)
Member Name: GuruOnAMountain
The Puzzling Place (Keswick)
Advantages: Kills time and is quite fun and interesting.
Disadvantages: Is small and is a bit amateurish overall.
My dad and I were in the Lake District for a few days and when in Keswick we ran into this museum quite by accident while wandering round the shops. It is tucked away in an upstairs location among shop fronts in Museum Square and it caught my eye, so we headed up for a nosy.
On entering there is a fairly large shop area that is free to enter and the receptionist doesn't pressure anyone browsing the shop to enter the museum, which is nice. The World of Illusions exhibition itself is behind swing doors and you simply pay at reception if you wish to enter. The shop stocks lots of unusual little items, puzzles, jigsaws on such like and is worth a little look around in itself.
The entry fee to the main exhibit is reasonable at £3.75 for a full price ticket and £2.90 for a child/concession. Under 5s get in for free and a family ticket for four can be bought for £11.75. The swing doors themselves to get in look a bit like a dodgy DIY job and I really wasn't convinced that it was worth going in but in we went, anyway.
A lot of the illusions are big boards on the wall with some kind of optical illusion on them (many of them very famous such as the type with a face that when looked at can either be interpreted as one thing or another). I'd seen a lot of the illusions already in books but maybe that's just due to my mis-spent youth being into that sort of thing! There were a few more 'hands on' exhibits dotted around such as two cases (one small and one large) that you'd to lift and gauge the weight of and a kaleidiscope of mirrors that you could stand inside.
There was also the optical illusion of a large chair created by the angle of a camera pointed at it which provided a good photo opportunity (you are actually just standing on a board on the ground but from a distance and at the right angle a photo would make you look like you are standing on a huge chair).
The best bit was definately the anti-gravity room which due to strange angles on the floor etc. made chairs slide uphill and makes you feel a bit dizzy and strange when you're inside. There is also a fairly large hologram room which is fun and some of the holograms are really detailed and amazing although a few of them weren't visible when I was there as the lights needed to light them had went out. In the hologram gallery there is also a distorted perceptions room where you can make yourself look tiny and your kid (if you have one with you) look like a giant. Again, another good photo opportunity.
The overall feel of the place is a bit basic and amateurish and it is really rather small and probably wouldn't take any more than 45 minutes to go round, even if you were taking your time to read everything and do everything that was there but I think this is quite fairly reflected in the price to get in as it isn't particularly expensive. It reminded me somewhat of a poor man's version of Camera Obscura in Edinburgh.
I would recommend a peek inside if you're in Keswick but I wouldn't recommend you to go deliberately out of your way to visit this attraction although hopefully it will improve over time if enough visitors invest in it.
Summary: Worth a visit if you're in the area.
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