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Been to any good museums lately?

PUBLISHED: 14:20 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:44 20 February 2013

Buildings and Sovereign

Buildings and Sovereign

Danusia Hutson has and finds they've updated their image to appeal to young and old alike


When's the last time you visited a museum? Like so many things that are right on our doorstep, we tend to take our local heritage centres for granted. But step inside one today and you'll discover a wealth of information about your home town, or area that'll open your eyes. Here we tell you about our favourites.


Amersham Museum, 49 High Street, Amersham. Tel: 01494 723700. (Open: Easter to October.) This award-winning museum is part of an original Tudor hall house, tucked away just behind more modern buildings. The museum collections tell the story of local events, places and people, so there are exhibits about the town's medieval martyrs, wall paintings, straw plait and lace making and perfume makers. New additions last year included a display of toys. There is also information about the museum's herb garden and the medicinal and culinary use of plants in past times.


Chiltern Open Air Museum, Chalfont St Giles HP8 4AB. Tel: 01494 871117. Probably best known for its 30 rescued and restored historic building from medieval to modern times. There's a Victorian Farmyard with lots of animals to meet, a Skipping barn, plus 45 acres of woods and parkland to explore and a wide range of hands-on activities, workshops and special events throughout the year. Wood End Cafe offers refreshments. Open dail. Prices vary. www.coam.co.uk


Maidenhead Heritage Centre, Park Street, SL6 1SL. Tel: 01628 780555. Recently re-housed to new premises, the museum holds permanent and temporary exhibitions, gift fairs and events, as well as regular talks and lectures on local history, the Thames and the canals. There's a gift shop with a good selection of books, cards, artwork and souvenirs. Entry is free. Open Tuesday to Saturday and the second Sunday of each month. www.maidenheadheritage.org.uk


Museum of Eton Life, Eton College, Eton, SL4 6DW. Tel: 01753 671177.


Situated in the vaulted undercroft of College Hall, the museum was formerly a wine cellar. It contains over 400 exhibits that illustrate the life and history of the college since its foundation in 1440. As well as remnants from the past such as a mock-up of the Fourth of June procession and the re-creation of a boy's room, there are letters and photographs of many of its famous alumni including, most recently Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Boris Johnson. A video of contemporary life at the school also makes fascinating viewing. Do go on the college tour if you can, too. Limited opening April to October.


Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX. Tel: 0118 378 8660. One of the Family-Friendly group, the centre has collections, objects, books, archives covering the history of food, farming and countryside. There are films, interactive things to do, brass rubbing, dressing up, and drop-in workshops during school holidays. Garden for trail, traditional games and picnics. Gift shop. Entry free, closed Mondays (advised to phone first on other days).www.reading.ac.uk


Reading Museum, Town Hall (and Riverside Museum, Blakes Lock), RG1 1QH. Tel: 0118 939 9800. At the Town Hall, temporary and permanent exhibitions, with Family-Friendly activities linked to local events, environment and history, including the story of the famous Huntley and Palmers biscuits, local sport and music, and there's also a splendid Victorian replica of the Bayeux Tapestry. Handmade biscuits and other refreshments are available at the Biscuit Tin Café. The shop contains works by local artists, cards, books and children's gifts. The Riverside Museum tells the story of the Thames and the Kennet, and includes a turbine house and a gypsy caravan. Free entry, open Tuesday to Sunday.


www.readingmuseum.org.uk


REME Museum of Technology, Arborfield RG2 9NJ. Tel: 0118 976 3375. This is where you will find all things military, from the Guardroom entrance to exhibitions featuring all manner of weaponry, including swords, rifles, machine guns, electronic and air equipment, army vehicles, tanks, motorbikes. As well as the permanent collections, there are various exhibitions and interactive events throughout the year. It is a Family-Friendly location, with a café and a shop with an amazing amount of uniforms, badges, medals, mugs, books, CDs, and other military souvenirs. Tickets are standard adult at £4, child, £3, with family tickets and concessions available. Open Sunday to Friday. www.rememuseum.org.uk


River and Rowing Museum, Henley RG9 1BF. Tel: 01491 415600. This stunning building overlooking the Thames has recently refurbished its interactive water and rowing experience in the Schwarzenbach Gallery, whilst the Invesco Perpetual presents the story of Henley back to its origins in the 12th century, and the Thames Gallery presents art, music, objects, photos and boats inspired by the river. The permanent Wind in the Willows is an interactive exhibition with 3D models tracking the adventures of Mr Toad and his friends. The café serves a wide choice of locally sourced dishes and the shop has a good range of gifts, jewellery, handbags, cards , toys and cakes. Founder member of Family Friendly Museums. Ticket prices vary from a standard adult at £3.50 and child at £2.50.www.rrm.co.uk


Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, HP16 0AL. Tel: 01494 892192. Now a member of the Family-friendly Museums, this is where the writer lived and wrote his famous children's stories and you can explore the actual hut where he worked. There are plenty of craft activities, workshops, as well as story-telling and a lovely cafe called Twit where you can enjoy magical creations such as Mocha Mars Truffle or Bogtrotter chocolate cake. Open Tuesday to Sunday, prices vary, from standard adult £5.50 and child £3.95 to concessions and family tickets. www.roalddahlmuseum.org


Slough Museum, SL1 1NB. Tel: 01753 526422. Designated a Family-Friendly museum it has a special activities room, where children can enjoy anything from brass rubbing to pot mending. There are two exhibition galleries covering the town's past as far back as prehistoric animal finds and Roman settlements. There are around 10,000 objects and photos and the bookshop has plenty of fascinating work on a vast range of subjects. Free entry, open Wednesday to Saturday .www.sloughmuseum.co.uk


The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, Whiteknights Campus, Reading RG66 AA. Tel: 0118 378 6990. One of the top British specialist museums, with 2,000 objects from Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, covering mythology, religion, warfare, household, the body and death. Family-Friendly with lots of special events. Open Monday to Friday.www.rdg.ac.uk


West Berkshire Museum, The Wharf, Newbury RG14 5AS. Tel: 01635 519562. Housed in two listed 17th and 18th century buildings, the museum focuses on local archaeology, history, art, industry, and life in the towns and villages. You can trace your family history and the shop has books on a wide variety of local subjects as well as souvenirs for children. A Family-Friendly venue, free entry, open Tuesday to Saturday (Wednesday only during school holidays).www.westberks.gov.uk


Wycombe Museum, Priory Avenue, HP13 6PX. Tel: 01494 421895. This is an 18th century building set in beautiful grounds and full of exciting collections and temporary exhibitions covering social history, art, the local furniture industry and historical photographs. Find about the world-famous Windsor chair and how the fantastic chair arches were built, and enjoy lots of different hands-activities. A Family-Friendly member, free entry, open daily.

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