Preview: Much Wenlock #Museum #Shropshire0February 2nd, 2012Culture
Much Wenlock Museum (Shropshire) is set to reopen on February 7th but I’ve the honour of a preview to see the progress that has been made since it closed almost a year ago for renovations. Much Wenlock is a small town (whatever you do, don’t call it a village!) that was thrown into the spotlight when the organizers of the 2012 Olympics named one of the mascots Wenlock after the towns association with being responsible for bringing back the Modern day Olympics (see more information here).
The museum had a unique situation where they literally had the ability to go back to the bare walls. They worked with the local community to find out what they wanted in the museum and more importantly, how they wanted the items displays. This is reflected in the unique style and layout of the museum.
When you walk in, you’re greeted with a magnificent wall that immediately grabs your attention. To the right is the shop which is exquisitely designed to highlight the Olympian heritage while ensuring other items are available and priced accordingly. To the left is the town’s information where you can find more on the Olympic Trail, Abbey, Priory and other important areas of Much Wenlock.
The museum is very kid friendly with a design that allows for wheelchair users to easily access. The layout is an oval shape with lots of depth and textures. Curator Emma-Kate Lanyon said feedback from the town indicated they wanted panels with descriptions, but for them not to be flat. They ensured this wasn’t the case with expanding panels that come out to add dimension. There are buttons to push to hear voices of the many historical people of Wenlock such as William Penny Brooke.
Outside of the Olympian connection, Much Wenlock is also an archaeological resource which is proudly shown through the museum. I particularly loved the ‘Wall of Fossils’ where you’re encouraged to touch the replicas. Next to this was a microscope that displayed on the wall so you could research a fossil in more detail.
There was still a bit of work to be done in time for the official opening next week, but I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. And I was very pleased to hear they have pledged their support for Kids in Museums 2012 Manifesto.
Admission to the museum is FREE. For opening hours, please see Virtual Shropshire.