I’m a big fan of museums. I believe they should be free, but I also believe that the public and businesses should give what they can. I grew up with my local museums, visiting them as a family quite regularly. These ranged from the Maritime Museum to the Ferens Art Gallery and the Streetlife Museum to the Spurn Lightship, which guided vessels safely along the treacherous River Humber for almost fifty years before being transformed into a floating tribute to Hull’s marine heritage.

These days I don’t go to my local museums as much as I’d like to, or even as often as I think I should, simply due to a busy work life and social calendar. Still, when I do pop in I absorb not only what’s on display, but also the nostalgia that comes with every museum, be it one for a different time, a familiar community or your own childhood visits. Each time I take a trip to the Maritime Museum, I stand beneath the whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling whilst listening to recordings of its morose-sounding song, and I’m taken back to that very spot over twenty years ago. The same goes for The Lion at Home in the Ferens: oil on canvas depicting the king of the jungle with its mate and offspring, painted by Rosa Bonheur in 1881. This piece is beautiful when you view it online, but you don’t get the full experience unless you stand before it in person and take in its grand scale and ornate frame, transporting you for a moment into the big cat’s realm. I loved this work as a child, and I think I love it even more today for that very reason.

Museums offer something that we don’t get anywhere else: a chance to discover the outside world whilst reflecting inwards, to realise that each generation had as many similarities to us as it did differences, and, if you live in Hull, to see old trams, a woolly mammoth and the birthplace of William Wilberforce, all within a few yards of one another. Support museums in the long-term in any way you can; if you don’t, the children of tomorrow may grow up without them.

 

Written for Museum Day

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