manchester museum

After months of procrastination, I finally took Raspberry to the Manchester Museum last week. I’m not sure why it took us quite so long to finally visit, but I’m glad we did. Given that Manchester is a larger city than Liverpool, the museum is pretty much an amped up version of the World Museum, with more space and exhibits dedicated to natural history, a boon for biology buffs like Raspberry and I. We looked at the map and circled the areas we wanted to see and I was convinced that we wouldn’t get to see it all. In fact, because I’d seen the map back when I’d dropped in briefly in October, I’d thought that we might spend all afternoon at the museum until it closed and had planned out the train times for the early evening. But that’s looking at the museum through my overly enthusiastic adult eyes. While I know that Raspberry’s museum attention span is longer than the one to two hours it was when she was three, it slipped my mind that at the heart of it all, she’s still five and can’t be thoroughly engaged at a museum for six full hours. Needless to say, she got bored and wanted to leave when I still wanted to see more exhibits, and I was actually a little surprised that she did.

But Raspberry did enjoy the museum on the whole, especially the bones, she says. And they certainly did have lots of bones. I marvelled at them all while Raspberry worked hard on an impromptu picture of a human skeleton, inspired by the gallery (my favourite part of her picture is the sutures on the skull). The World Museum definitely doesn’t display their bone collection the way the Manchester Museum does, in dimly lit glass cases, combining skeletons of animals that ordinarily wouldn’t share the same habitats in the wild. I think I spent the longest looking at the anteater, not only because I love anteaters but also because I was surprised that its skull included its snout. I guess in my mind, I’d expected it to be soft tissue, like human noses.

The newly-opened vivarium was naturally a hit too. Of course, what do you expect when you put live animals in a museum? There were throngs of kids on a field trip and Raspberry was a bit confused, first thinking that it was a weekend, and then that it was half-term, until I explained that kids in schools sometimes go on field trips to museums (when we visit the Liverpool museums, we usually go in the afternoon after the school kids are gone, you see). Anyway, we spent a good amount of time trying to spot some of the reptiles in their tanks, not an easy task in some cases when the adult frogs only grow to a maximum of barely 30mm. I loved the chameleon, who was just hanging out nonchalantly on a branch, but whose eyes would move every time it spotted a kid in its periphery. I almost think that if it didn’t look so bored and blase, it’d have given people the stink-eye for making its ocular muscles work. I think Raspberry liked it too, as we emerged from the vivarium with a new imaginary chameleon aptly named Chameleon. Just what we needed to add to her already large brood of imaginary kittens and stuffed animals.

We spent a good amount of time in the Play and Learn area, which was a nice breather. There were colouring sheets, blank paper, picture books and artefacts in plastic cases but Raspberry didn’t really do any of the supposedly intended things probably because she’s a little old for them. Instead, she chose to colour in a picture of an emu, making it spectacularly multi-hued. That gave me a chance to sit down for a bit, which I was beyond grateful for. It was also really nice being in a quiet, brightly lit space and absorbing the sights (the museums we normally go to have little to no natural light, so I very much enjoy a museum that has some or lots).

There was a greenhouse, but we were both sorely disappointed by it. In my mind, a greenhouse is a large room with windows for walls, a space you can walk through and actually be right next to a plant, choosing to touch it if you please, whether or not the authorities approve. This greenhouse was merely a glassed in enclosure, housing certain fruit-bearing plants (like olives, oranges, lemons, grapes, pomegranates) that looked like they were in need of some watering. I tried to lift Raspberry’s spirits by trying to spot the fruit, but alas, they were sparse to say the least, and all we located was a lone lemon and some limes.

I was surprised that she wanted to see the exhibit about money. We looked at some coins from the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations and she drew some on a worksheet, but that was about it. The museum is laid out in a somewhat confusing configuration where you need to take a convoluted route to get to where you want to go or to the exit. While figuring our way around, we came upon the fossils, which wasn’t one of the things she’d wanted to see initially, but she was somewhat intrigued by the skeletal cast of a tyrannosaurus as well as a gigantic tree. She also really liked a model of the Earth that showed some of the volcanic hotspots and earthquakes. I’d have liked if the model showed the entire Earth and all the hotspots, but a quarter of it had been cut away to show the earth’s cross-section, which isn’t as exciting to a kid because there aren’t buttons to press.

Our visit to the museum was shorter than I’d expected but I think it worked out for a first trip as Raspberry got to experience a little of everything and wasn’t excessively tired out by the end of it. I’d planned to stop at the 8th Day Co-op, a natural and fair-trade store on the way back to the train station and Raspberry was excited about going. It’s a nice place, with a ton of stuff I’d love to get (isn’t that always the case?) and I ended up just picking up some apple and cinnamon tea and a new tube of toothpaste for the kid since her current one will run out soon. In the way that hungry people are tempted to buy more food when they’re in a grocery store, I thought that we might pick up something to eat along the way, but nothing really jumped out at me, and I also had some snacks in my backpack anyway. They had burritos, which is awesome since Mexican food is often hard to come by here, and I think we’ll try some the next time we’re in the neighbourhood. I’m not sure when that’ll be though, although I did promise Raspberry that we’ll make another trip to the museum in a couple of months. Our next Manchester trip is actually next week, to the Museum of Science and Industry as they have an exhibit on brains, and I’m excited about it because of course, brains are ridiculously cool.

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4 responses

  1. Just wanted to say how many beautiful pictures were in this post! All the frogs, the skeletons, such a wonderful tone. x

    December 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

  2. Yes these are gorgeous! The light on that dinosaur!

    December 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

  3. Thanks, Sarah! I have an f/1.8 lens to thank for that!

    December 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

  4. Thank you, Kristen! I do love that picture too!

    December 4, 2013 at 9:35 am

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