Category Archives: Museum

Culture on the Cheap | Hull 2017

It’s been 2017 for over three months now and I’d started to beat myself up for not getting totally immersed in the cultural events which are happening in the city.

There were two arguments telling me to shut up. One: you’re often involved in cultural events, so all these additional events are no ‘biggy’. (That didn’t convince me much.) Two: You’re a busy working woman and the winter months don’t offer much motivation. (That angered me a little, but did seem justifiable.)

So, when my friend visited from London for the warmest weekend of the year so far, we decided to pack as much culture in as possible. On a budget, because, well…

Saturday started off as early as possible with a bus ride to The Deep. For me, this trip was free as I still had a couple of weeks on my year-long ticket from 2016. I never resent paying for The Deep and I think it’s absolutely amazing that they offer the year-long opportunity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s a couple of new attractions at The Deep which we were excited to see. The first being the new arrival of two Loggerhead Sea Turtles, named Mabouche and Sansbecco. It was explained to the crowd gathered around the viewing point that these turtles couldn’t be released back into the wild as they are missing their lower jaws – a result of being caught on a long line in the Mediterranean – and so wouldn’t survive. I was shocked by how large they were, and I think it was the smaller of the two that we actually got to see up close.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The second attraction was an art installation entitled Washed Up Car-Go, part of the year-long Look Up programme. Coastline collected by artist Chris Dobrowski has been placed within three cars located in The Deep’s car park. The idea behind it was to represent the high-tide mark, where the debris collected by the ocean washes up on-shore, reflecting the idea of “our decadent disposable culture of mass consumption.” I liked the idea, and it linked in with previous artwork which has been exhibited at The Deep produced from the items washed up onto beaches. However, I found this particular installation was less impressive and nowhere near as striking. I liked the idea, but I wasn’t blown away by the actual pieces. We saw two of the three cars and they were rather similar, so we didn’t bother seeking out the third. For me, artwork is about creating a conversation and this didn’t work for us. We understood the concept and, after taking a couple of photographs, we were able walk away from it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We headed down Humber Street and stopped off at Humber Street Gallery to see the Raft of the Medusa which is displayed in the gallery space behind the bar. This piece reflected the dangerous journey of the crew of the Medusa, aboard the raft they salvaged together, as well as acting as a reminder of similarly treacherous journeys taken by slaves and migrants past, present and future. This got us talking a little bit more. The clothes strewn around the room, flowing from suitcases, could have represented anyone from almost any time. The raft itself told a vivid story and was a conversational focal piece. And the artwork around it was interesting. What I did miss was the “pungent smell” that was advertised, making this less multi-sensory. But we were talking about this artwork and we were linking it to stories from the news and our own experiences at sea.

We chose not to have a drink at the Gallery, instead opting to sit outside Butler Whites where we could take in the entire view of the Marina. We saw people standing at the podium for The City Speaks, another part of the Look Up programme. The idea is that you speak into a steel lectern where the microphone picks up your spoken words and translates them into a scrolling dot-matrix text on the tidal barrier at the top of Humber Street. We saw a few people standing up on the lectern but no dot-matrix, and with no Hull2017 volunteer around to guide us, we were unsure as to whether this was something we could participate in one the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Saturday finished off with a trip to the Hull Maritime Museum, stopping before the door in order to take several photographs of the Weeping Window installation, significant to the pair of us as the thousands of poppies had made a similar journey to my friend, from London (the HM Tower of London, where they were originally exhibited) to Hull. It’s been massively photographed and a huge talking point in the city.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Maritime Museum was fascinating, specifically because I work with students who are studying Maritime Studies. There’s a huge whale skeleton and the exhibits take you on a journey of the former Town Dock offices which tell a story of the whaling community and the fishing heritage as well as including art installations. One installation which is there until the 28th August is the Offshore: Artists Explore The Sea.

This installation is shared between the Maritime Museum and Feren’s Art Gallery, which we visited on the Sunday. We enjoyed the aspects of this art collection in Feren’s; in particular, the outfit which represented coral. The outfit is on display and a video is shown of it being worn. It’s difficult to explain without sounded a little odd, because initially I found it a little odd. Reading the information and watching the video made it more and more interesting. The other video installation we noticed was of a squid currently residing in a formaldehyde tank the length of the space between two screens in which this artwork is presented.

I’m not one who has ever really shown interest in art galleries. I enjoy music and theatre and spoken word, artwork I can comfortably engage with. So I always get nervous when expressing my opinions about art and art galleries. There were several pieces in Feren’s which I was happy to simply walk past. One I stopped at specifically was the Rembrandt. Here until the end of August, The Ship Builder and his Wife is one of five loans from the Royal Collection Trust which will be displayed at Feren’s between 2017 and 2021. We discussed the story and of the painting and the details we could spot, within the expressions and the paperwork of the ship builder. It’s also just a little exciting to see something with the word ‘Royal’ attached.

Of the two days, we paid for one ticket to go into The Deep (between us both), and that ticket will last another 12 months. We purchased food and drinks, naturally, and had the option of donating to the museums and galleries. To visit an aquarium, a museum and two galleries for the total cost of £12.50 is pretty amazing.

We were blessed with the most stunning weather, which meant that we were happy to wander around and stumble on the new eateries that are popping up around the city as well as taking our time to snap photographs whenever and wherever we saw something which captured our interest.

If you live a bus ride, a train ride away from Hull, then you’d be silly not to pop by. You can make a day out of what we did over the weekend, and for very little money. With a bit of planning via the Hull2017 website, you can ensure that you fit as much in as possible. And if you can plan a couple of weeks ahead I certainly advise that you check out the ‘What’s On’ section of the website and check if there are any ticketed events happening which you don’t want to miss out on.

A day of culture and, with a Day Plus Pass from The Deep, a logical reason to return.

Advertisements

A Dinostar Experience

I do not have my own children. But I do have friends who have children, which means I am able to enjoy those half-term activities usually catering for parents and their offspring.

Dinostar exhibit
Child-friendly exhibits

One such activity is visiting Dinostar, a dinosaur museum situated at the end of Humber Street, in the marina area of Hull.

It’s the kind of place you walk past, contemplating what could possibly be inside. Dinosaurs, yes, but real or not? Is it suitable for me? Will it really be worth it? Well, I’m not sure I aim to answer these questions for you. You may read this and continue your contemplations when walking past to other venues in the area. You may just decide to give it a go.

We went as a large group – three mothers, one father, their children of various ages under 10, one grandmother and, well, me. A collection of personalities and requirements. Two of the children are autistic and can be difficult to handle if the social environment isn’t accommodating. The youngest is a toddler. The oldest is, well, me.

Don't let this guy put you off.
Don’t let this guy put you off.

So, we arrived at about 2pm, and our group quickly took over the quiet building. Clearly too many people were still contemplating. It cost £3 per adult and £1.50 for the children, and free for the baby. Initially, this seemed rather steep. The museum is rather small, with three main rooms – one downstairs and two upstairs. There was a stamp collecting activity for the children; while identifying the different dinosaurs around the museum they had to stamp an A5 piece of paper with each. A good activity for ensuring they look around the entire venue and also read some of the information pieces. But, as children don’t tend to read everything, we were worried that less than an hour of our school holiday would be costing us these three coins.

But, we were fooled by the small space.

Even the staircase was put to good use - an informative timeline (posters on the walls offered more info)
Even the staircase was put to good use – an informative timeline (posters on the walls offered more info)

Alongside the written information (clearly more for the adults to read) there were ‘Did You Know?’ fact trivia, sound buttons and smell boxes. A child may not remember that T.Rex lived near swamps because they read it from the wall, but they may remember that this particular artefact was near the box which smelt like boggy earth. A 3D experience without the glasses!

Stamp collection point & Smell box - 3D exploration.
Stamp collection point & Smell box – 3D exploration.

Upstairs, there were a range of activities for the children (and adults feeling a bit childish) to have a go at. The best were certainly the archaeological dig sites – one unveiling a dinosaur skeleton and one a footprint. Baby slept for much of the time there, and when she woke we had been concerned she wouldn’t have much to do. This proved more than sufficient! She loves playing with sand anyway, and did a good job at uncovering the claws of the dinosaur hidden beneath. With some help from the taller children, we were able to reveal it all. And one of the younger boys was quite happy just to let the sand flow between his fingers.

Dinosaur Dig - teamwork!
  Dinosaur Dig – teamwork!
A future archaeologist?
  A future archaeologist?
Revealing the treasure beneath
Revealing the treasure beneath

Add to this the drawing table, which also had stencils of different dinosaurs and their footprints and a section where you could use crayons to rub and reveal a dinosaur, and you had hours of entertainment. We adults gave up far too quickly, forgetting how simple activities can entertain and educate children. Plus, with multi-sensory activities, all of the requirements we went with were met.

Space for the little explorers to collate their findings
Space for the little explorers to collate their findings

We were there for just under two hours, and the children would probably have been happy to stay for longer. Our £3 were well spent, and that left change from a fiver for the gift shop (a Dinostar hat was on £1.50, so all-round good value).

We’d expected too little of this end-of-terrace converted house on the marina. It calls itself “a Dinosaur Experience” and this is exactly what we got. For very little cost considering – I’ve certainly paid a lot more for a lot less when it comes to keeping kids happy.

My friend proving that she is as tall as a Triceratops' leg.
My friend proving that she is as tall as a Triceratops’ leg.

So, next time you wander past and think it might be an idea, step inside.

They do only open Sundays outside of the school holidays. We were pleased to have arrived when it was quiet, especially with the specific needs of the children in our group, but it would not be an issue were it busier. I’d certainly advise it as part of a dinosaur-themes birthday party, as we could have spent hours in there with the children entertaining themselves and each other. In fact, the kids needed us so little that we were able to be a bit silly ourselves.

Details can be found on the website – http://www.dinostar.co.uk/

And you can always pop down to Thieving Harry’s for a pot of tea and a slice of cake afterwards. Well. We did anyway.

Thieving Harry's