I enjoy visiting local museums and learning a bit of local history, so during a trip to Swindon this week I took Thing 1 and Thing 2 to The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.
I had checked in advance what time it opened and we arrived just before. It is an old building but there was a ramp up to the front door and the double pushchair fit in through the pillars and the door. As I walked in I saw a sign directing me to where I could leave the pushchair. The museum and gallery are on several floors with no lift access. This is fine for us as The Things like to roam free these days, but it’s not great if you need a pushchair.
Things 1 and 2 were happy to be set free from their pushchair and immediately started walking around the first gallery and having a look at the artefacts and art on display. We wandered in to the the gallery opposite and I was really pleased to see a table with colouring in. Thing 1 and Thing 2 sat straight down and started to draw. This actually kept them amused long enough for me to have a look around at the art on display. This was a first for me. My usual experience of museums and galleries is not seeing anything as I can’t take my eyes off of my mischievous toddlers. They didn’t sit for more than five minutes but that was more than enough for me to get a feel for the work.
Next we visited the Made in Swindon room. The Things were particularly excited by the old fire engine and they enjoyed looking at all of the toys that were on display. Looking at the toys I started to feel a bit old as I actually owned some of them as a child and here they were in a museum. Things 1 and 2 are going to have a good laugh when they are old enough to realise their Mum is old enough to remember toys that are now in a museum!
We wandered up the stairs in to the Roman and Iron Age exhibition. Plenty to look at and luckily it’s behind glass so Thing 1 and Thing 2 couldn’t do any damage. We found another table of activities in this room and sat down to take a look. In amongst the opportunities to design a Roman brooch and do a word search was some pottery that you could look up and identify. At two years old The Things are too young for this, but did like being about to get hands on. We had a good look and feel of each piece, talked about the colour and patterns. It’s great letting Things 1 and 2 get hands on. They are so much more engaged than when they are just looking at objects. I enjoy it too. There were also some dressing up costumes but sadly I couldn’t persuade my two to stay still long enough to get a costume on them. Maybe next time.
Then it was on to the top floor. The room on the left holds fossils and rocks. Again there was a table and chairs and The Things did a bit of drawing while I had a wander about and actually got to read some of the information. Amazing! I particularly enjoyed learning about the dinosaur fossils found in Swindon. I know we will be back when the Things 1 and 2 are old enough to appreciate this bit of local history.
The final room we visited had an Egyptian mummy in it. Once again, Thing 1 and Thing 2 found the table of drawing and sat themselves down. I was just reading how Swindon had managed to acquire a mummy when Thing 2 decided he was going to fill his nappy. The rooms at the museum are not huge and the smell quickly filled the space. In the time it took for me to persuade Things 1 and 2 that it was time to find a toilet three people had joined us in the small, smelly room. I did apologise for the smell and eventually managed to get them to a toilet.
Like a lot of local museums there are some real gems at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. We will be back and I might even manage to look at a some of the art exhibitions next time.