Barrow Dock Museum

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We’ve been intending to check out the Dock Museum in Barrow for quite some time and, last week, finally got around to it.

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It’s a small museum, but it has model boats, which are pretty irresistible,

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…and The Furness Hoard, found locally in 2011 and including Viking, Saxon and Arab coins plus fragments of arm-rings and bracelets, not dissimilar in fact from The Silverdale Hoard.

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Having examined the area’s Viking treasures, you may want to dress the part…

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There are also axe-heads and arrowheads of Langdale stone which were apparently brought to the Barrow area for finishing and polishing.

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A big surprise for me, and a great discovery, was this furniture by the late Tim Stead.

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I’ve not been aware of his work before, but shall be looking out for it in the future. He was one of the artists who built the Millennium Clock, now housed by the National Museum of Scotland, and definitely added to my ‘too see’ list.

Whilst the boys hared around the playground in the museum grounds, I took a quick look at the docks themselves.

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Our trip to the museum was intended to be a precursor to a trip to the Wildlife Trust reserve at the southern end of Walney Island, somewhere I’ve long wanted to visit, much like Foulney Island in fact. But, having had my sutures removed early that morning, I now discovered that everything was not quite going to plan, and we spent the next three hours, or thereabouts, sitting around in A&E at Barrow Infirmary waiting to see what was to be done. Not much, it eventually transpired. Patience is the order of the day apparently. Ho-hum.

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Barrow Dock Museum

The World Museum

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The idea that we should visit The World Museum was a top-tip from a friend, who regularly takes primary school classes there and was extolling the virtues of the museum before we embarked on our trip. The weather was wild and windy, so it was good to get inside, and what treasures were in store! In the high entrance foyer you’re greeted by an enormous totem pole and a pterodactyl – which sort of gives you of an idea of what will follow.

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There’s an aquarium and all sorts of other natural history stuff. B and I watched an extraordinary film of the mating dance of the beautiful peacock jumping spider from Australia. I’d never heard of them before, but after we came home found an article in the paper which said that 59 species of these tiny arachnids have been discovered to date. Fortunately the biologist who filmed the spiders, Jurgen Otto, has made the footage available on youtube.

We were all particularly taken by the ‘discovery room’ on that floor where there were lots of hands-on activities including an elephant’s tooth – the heft of which has really stuck with the kids – several large skulls and some microscopes for visitors to use. A very enthusiastic and knowledgeable member of the museum staff really brought the exhibits to life.

The next floor has lots of archaeological goodies, Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Anglo-Saxon.

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This is a bust of the Roman general, Caesar and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, which I’ve included here for no better reason than that I’ve often tried to convince the kids that Marcus and Aurelius are my Christian names. They don’t believe me, but lots of my students have over the years.

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Anglo-Saxon museum-goers.

The fourth floor has a planetarium and we managed to see three of the four shows available that day. Really, even though we were in the museum from shortly after opening time at ten until they kicked us out at five, there wasn’t nearly enough time to fit everything in.

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The third floor holds various appealing items from around the world. And another discovery room – the kids found that there were games available there and were soon settling down to play Nine Men’s Morris, Fox and Geese and, my favourite, Mancala. Oh, and, in S’s case, to try some more costumes on…

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..I think that’s Guatemalan national dress, but don’t hold me to that.

I was more keen to get around and see the exhibits.

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..but it was all a bit of a rush.

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I can easily see us heading back there at some point in the future. And little S, whose class have just begun a project on the Ancient Egyptians, has already recommended the museum to his teacher, so he may be back there somewhat sooner than the rest of us.

The World Museum