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Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery (Doncaster)

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Address: Chequer Road / Doncaster / South Yorkshire / DN1 2AE / Telephone: +44 (0) 1302 734 293

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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      22.02.2008 22:53
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      A concrete slab full of treasures

      Doncaster may be a small town but it has a vibrant history. Romans invaded the Don. which is home to lots of wildlife. It also made the two most famous trains of all time-Mallard and The Flying Scotsman. So its only too righ to have a museum. And it must have a good museum. This one does it proud... Basic stuff --------------- Opening times Open Monday to saturday 10am -5pm Admission is free-yay! The Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery Chequer Road Doncaster DN1 2AE Phone number: 01302 734293 The Museum is right next doo to a park near the centre of Doncaster. Doncaster is in South Yorkshire and is easily accesible from the M1, The M18 and A1(M) meaning that its got loads of BIG roads going towards it. The museum is on a fairly major road and is signposted most of the way. Its down a little street next door to a church. Parking is free but you must register your vehicle at reception! Toilets --------------- The only set of toilets are at the very start near the gift shop. There clean and the doors are power assisted which means they are easily accessible by wheelchair users. Gift shop ------------------- There's a shop next door to reception. It isn't full of tacky rubbish like most shops. Its home to some nice jewellery, bird sculptures to go on your mantlepiece-a nice array of books , some lovely necklaces -and one or two pencials and pens and it is very reasonably priced Food --------------- Unfortunately the museum doesn't have a cafe but just opposit it is a little cafe called The upper Crust which has limited hours and is quite nice and reasonable. I think that's all the basics out of the way. Phew.... Doncaster ---------------- I'm going too do a little bit about Doncaster. Doncaster is a reasonably ized town in South Yorkshire-which applied for city status but failed to get it. It is most famous for its locomotive works and there are still some massive sidings and lots of railways here. It is also well known for its racecourse-Doncaster racecouirse which is quite near the museum. It is also home to the Northern Racing College. Doncaster is getting a sort of revamp and now the roundabouts are full of lovely colourful flowers most of them making shapes like trains. A major redevelopemt is of a big lake-The keepmoat lake to the North which is a lovely big lake and is next to The Keepmoat Stadium home to Doncaster Rovers. Other attractions include Cusworth hall home to the museum of South Yorkshier Life, Potteric carr a wonderful nature reserve on the outskirts where you can often see the elusive biitern and Aeroventure an aircraft museum. Exterior -------------- The exterior of doncaster Museum isn't very nice. Unlike Sheffield Museum or the Natural History Museum it isn't a wondeful piece of victorian architecture. Put crudely, it is massive slab of ugly concrete . Which is sad really because that might put people off. However the front is now home to a lovely garden which includes( as you can see in the picture) some cracking sculptures. The Museum -------------- yes finally we on to the museum. After going in the very first(and largest) exhibit is all about the Don through time. Its very interesting and to make it more kiddie friendly the walls are errm... themed. The firs thing you pass is a nice display of stuffed animals. The reason why it is nice is because it puts the animals in a tableau of their natural habitat so looks much better than just in a case. The very first bit is on the Don in the Stone Age. A re-created Stone Age cave is home to a big grizzly bear who roars at you as you go past-scary for little ones! There is also some waxworks of some Stone Age people who have a cut open a fish-pretty gruseome. There's a quick and easy game for kids before you meet a (dead) grey seal who you have to feel sorry for-he is so cute and adorable. To the side is a woodland scene -a wonderful re-creation home to some glamarous foxes and the loevly badges. Crawling under you can see the foxes and badgers in their den'sett and on the other side is a magnificent stag. The last exhibit in this'gallery' is a duck decoy-a place where ducks are captured. You walk through a mock up of one and beyond some galss are some reall mallard's swimming towards a err...painting. Th glass is almost invisible-I have seen young kids crash into it not noticing its there! Anyway that's enough on the Natural History section... I'm going to cover the trains now. It isn't a particualry big exhibit-a couple of panels , one display case and two 'trains' (more about them in a minute) but for some reason its my favourite(mainly because I love trains) The boards mostly tell you about the works and the display case is home to a cracking model of the Flying Scotsman and some number p;lates. At the bottom are two things. Both are big. Both are interactive. One is a 'train' which is really a big falt metal thing that they used to use on farms which kids can climb on. The other is supposed to be a driving thing from a train. Kids can sit behind it and push butons , turn levers and pretend they are driving a train-yay! The next exhibit is all about bricks. Boring you say. Actually its fascinating. Its a good size and all the display boards are surrounded by bricks and are in brickish colour. Its mostly about sandstone-and about a chap who buit his house out of sandstone as well as some sculptures. One sculpture is here-an elephant. Its quite flat but its simply beautiful_ I love elephnats they are charming adn this is nothing short of a great sculpture. There's also a displey about where the names of brciks come from and a bit where you can touch bricks made from different materials -some hurt your skin. There's a game where you can make a wall from brciks. A small alcove off the brick exhibt is about coal. Its quite small and is mostly full of picture and writing-so will be a bit boring for the little ones but there's a nice old fossilised tree here to keep them occupied. Next up is a bit about Doncaster in different periods. The first is the iron age-there's a quite good display board about housing where they make a for sale sign for an iron age roundhouse-an interesting idea which seems to work. There's also a display on a weird fort. Next up is the Romans-its the biggest bit because the Romans occupied the Don so here there is a fine collection of Roman pottery as well as lots of displays. They have very cleverly made the baords look like a flga. There is also a skeleton here which is very interesting -and gruseome! He was even put in a coffin! There's a quick bit on the Anglo Saxons about a chap who used to make pottery then and a re-creation of his workshop-interesting. There's a nice game up here where you ahev to pretend to be boats on the Don and have to get to the dock or something like that by passing dangers-its quite good fun and there's also a little fishing rod type game where you have to catch a perch-although neither are ground0breakign they are certainly highly enjoyable. There's a quick display on the racecourse and some shields form then -which are pretty impressive and gleam in the light. The medieval display is interesting its msotly about castles and by pressing a button you can light up a stunning model of a castle. There are a few other displays here about Donnie in the middle ages. The Georgian area is okay but I personally prefer the Victorian area-it gives you a good insight onto what was happening then and why-there's even an old school desk-much different to the ones we have now! The final bit has a computer where you can research things and find out about different people and a bit on Doncaster Rovers which includes origianl tikcets ,billboards and programmes. You come out into a big open display full of cars. It doesn't have as many exhibits as the others but takes up the most room. The cars are mostly old and were all made/designed in Doncaster. The cars are all very clean and shiny and are very interesting-looking inside the windows the seats now look uncomfortable and the radios oldfashioned. The cars are quite interesting but there not my favourite display. There's also the Free King's Regiment Museum next to the history area. This is quite big and is mostly home to brightly coloured(mostly red) uniforms and camoflaugue clothes in tableau. There's also a big plaque commemorating all who died as well as a good collection. There was also a room full of HUNDREDS of medals , gleaming silently . It isn't the most interesting display ever but its wirth a pop in but I think it closes at 4. Upstairs after passing a pretty cool aircraft is the art gallery. Its reasonably sized and there's quite a few rooms but art isn't really my thing. There are a few nice paintings but most are weird abstract ones which I can't get my head round and boring portraits of poncey nobles. yawn. One painting has a special display to it-oen of the racecourse which is home 100 different people all painted well. It mustv'e taken so long... Although it wasn't my sort of thing it was impressive. Apparently you would pay for yourself to be put in the picture. The only thing I liked about the art gallery was one of those big cardboard thing that you put your head through to make you look like someone else-there are steps up to this for the little ones and a mirror so you can look at yourself. There are plenty of seats in the gallery. There is also a fabulous collection of pottery upstairs-I mean fabuolous-its a massive collection and there all wonderful and definitely deserve a mention. I'm not even into pottery but I have to admit these were good. Phew...that's it. It takes a couple of hours to get around. Donations are accepted and there is a big box for them at the start. There is also a puzzle for little kids to find all 5 pictures of bears around the exhibits-easier said than done. The Regiment Museum is only open till 4pm I think. Final thoughts --------------- I have to admit this is a good museum. How could a concrete slab be so interesting? They do have some interactive exhibits but they don't overstep the mark and make the interactive idea 'tacked on'. Sometimes I feel if museums have too many interactive displays they don't really tell you much and aren't educational and are just games-I don't wanna pay 8 quid to play a game-however Doncaster doesn't oversstep the mark and keep it at the right amount. Its exhibits are well though out and well pieced together with interesting objects and information. The best thing is each display is designed to fit in to that period . The only two negatives I have are the fact that its really concrete from outside and that its quite hard to get around everything because the lay out isn't the greatest ever. They are only minor quibbles and they definitely can't detract from an interesting, informative, fascianting and great day out. What other concrete blod can say its is interestinf and fascinating full of traesures on the inside that are amazing. I can't think of one-most are just that-ca concrete blob-nothing spcials about them nothing interesting and make a rubbish day out. Not Doncaster museum though. Its a fascianting concrete blob. And a concrete blob that promises a great day out and endless enjoyment.

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      • More +
        09.11.2007 08:28
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        Centrally located this is Doncaster's Museum

        The rather dull, unattractive facade of the Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery disguises what a real gem of a place this really is inside. This is Doncaster\'s only town centre museum and here you will find a whole range of different artefacts that tell the story of the history of this town back to the Roman times and even further beyond. The museum is on two different floors, both of which are fully accessible by disabled visitors, and there is a lift to the second floor. In front of the main entrance doors there is a large reception area, which has various leaflets and books relating to the local area. At this point you could be forgiven for thinking that you had walked into the local tourist information centre rather than a museum, but a quick glance around soon reveals several little anterooms, that lead off from this main foyer area. There are various exhibitions on the lower floor. The one that I found particularly interesting was a display that detailed the region from prehistoric times through to the present. There are various artist impressions of how this region would have looked together with information about the animals that would roamed around this area, which in those days was heavily forested and close to the coast. There are display cabinets that contain bones of various animals that have been found locally. One of the most impressive is a huge set of moose antlers found on Thorne Moors in 1998. This was especially surprising to me since this is an area that I know very well. I have seen red deer and roe deer here but never a moose! I did not even realise that these things had ever been native to the British Isles. There is another display that tells us about the human history of this area. Starting from the earliest settlers this takes us through to the Roman settlement of the area and the creation of the Roman town of Danum, which is the origin of Doncaster town that we see today. Danum was a particularly important Roman town and the influences of the Romans are still evident all around here today. There are several interactive displays, which are great for the kids, and these include touch and feel displays, where you have to feel various animals' furs and then try and match them up with the correct animal. I would assume that these displays would also be great for visually impaired kids too. There are three more rooms on the lower floor. One of these, which is the smallest of the three remaining rooms is dedicated to sporting memorabilia and there is a large section of this taken up by the town\'s horse racing connections. There are examples of trophies on display from some of the early St Leger races. The other room is used mainly for temporary displays and during my recent visit this had a Viking theme. There were several items on display that had recently been unearthed from a Viking woman\'s grave. There were also photographs and video footage of the actual excavation site. By far the biggest display here is taken up by transport. Doncaster had a car making plant from the early 1900's until the 1950's and there are several examples of the models that were produced on display here. The Bentley was the most famous of the models that were made here. An art gallery largely takes up the upper floor of the building. I must confess that I did quickly skip a large part of this section but I did find an area that was full of exhibits from pupils at Doncaster College to be quite interesting. There is also an entire room on this floor that is dedicated to local pottery. The Doncaster area has a long history of pottery making and until the middle of the last century there were dozens of different small potters scattered about. There are examples of pieces from most of these places with descriptive notes on their distinguishing features. I was interested to see just how different from one another some of these pieces were. Entry to the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery is free. It is open daily from Monday through to Saturday from 10am until 5pm The Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery Chequer Road Doncaster DN1 2AE Telephone - 01302 734293

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        The museum is host to various aspects of natural history, archaeology, local history and fine decorative art. The art gallery has a lively programme of temporary exhibitions throughout the year.