Monday 21st July 2023
Museums Northumberland announces summer programme for children and families
To celebrate the arrival of the school summer holidays, Museums Northumberland has announced a bumper programme of family-friendly events and activities at Woodhorn Museum, Hexham Old Gaol, and Berwick Museum and Art Gallery.
At Woodhorn Museum, the summer events programme takes its inspiration from the natural world, with new artist installations, craft sessions, and wildlife safaris around the museum.
Artist Imogen Cloët has been working with local people, families and Woodhorn Museum’s Age UK Gardening Group to create a new art installation for the museum. Notice draws inspiration from the iconic Mining Banners on display at Woodhorn and shares local people’s hopes for the environment through sound, imagery and text. Visitors are invited to sit down, relax and reflect in this beautiful immersive environment over the summer months.
Children and families visiting Woodhorn Museum this summer are also invited to help create a series of Miners’ Banner using paper art, drawings, words and decorations. Banner and Branches takes place every day over the summer holidays (12noon-3pm, 22 July – 03 September) and has been developed by artist Bethan Maddocks. The family friendly craft sessions are free to attend (no advance booking required) and visitors can have their picture taken inside a 3D paper banner sculpture also created by Bethan.
For families that want to explore the great outdoors, Woodhorn Museum’s Learning Team are running free, drop-in bug and bloom safari sessions around the site. Wild Wednesdays (11am – 2.15pm every Wednesday from 26 July – 30 August) will feature bug and bloom hunts to uncover some of the wildlife in and around Woodhorn Museum, and bug mask making workshops.
At Hexham Old Gaol, the building’s long history provides the inspiration for its summer events activities. Taking place everyday at 1-3pm from Saturday 22 July to Sunday 03 September, visitors can make their own mini Mangonel – a type of catapult first built by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. Made from wooden frames, Mangonels were used to fling heavy rocks into castle walls during battle. Hexham Old Gaol’s mini Mangonel will be built using plastic spoons and paper cups, and a special ‘firing range’ has been set up to test their rock flinging ability. Families can also have a go at creating their own scratch art bookmarks.
Also taking place at Hexham Old Gaol during the summer and free, bookable tours of the House of Correction; a Grade II listed building dating back to the 1800s with a very dark and gruesome history.
Further up the coast at Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, the free, drop-in activities over the summer holidays (1-3pm, Saturday 22 July to Sunday 03 September) take their inspiration from the newly discovered Ord Cross.
The piece of Anglo-Saxon jewellery – first discovered on the banks of the River Tweed in 2019 – features Anglo-Saxon Runes; symbols used by the Anglo-Saxons as an alphabet. Berwick Museum and Art Gallery’s Runic Codebreakers event invites families and members of the public to uncover their own name in runes.
Visitors will also be able to make their own Ord Cross out of clay and plaster, and etch their name in Anglo-Saxon Runes.
Also in Berwick, join Museums Northumberland and the Union Chain Bridge partners for a free fun-filled day for all the family to celebrate the restoration and 203rd anniversary of the opening of the Union Chain Bridge.
On Wednesday 26 July, 11am-4pm, there will be live music, craft and STEM activities as well as guided tours of the Union Chain Bridge. Events will take place at Paxton House, the Chain Bridge Honey Farm and Horncliffe Memorial Hall throughout the day, with a free shuttle bus operating between the venues.
Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “We know summer can be an expensive time for families, so we’ve created a free programme of events and activities children and the young a heart can enjoy throughout the summer months. Entry to our museums is free for children and young people aged 16 and under when visiting with a paying adult. Our fee structure means adults only pay once to visit throughout the year, and at a maximum of £7 it really is great value.
“From bug hunts and craft sessions to art installations and behind the scenes tours, we’ve got something to entertain people of all ages. At Woodhorn Museum there are also plenty of great picnic spots and our ever-popular accessible playground. There’s no booking required, just show up on the day and join in the fun. With activities spread across all our venues, you get to explore and enjoy Northumberland at the same time too.”
All the activities over the summer holidays at Museums Northumberland are included in visitors’ annual passes. Entry for children and young people aged 16 and under is free. For individual museum opening times and entry prices, visit museumsnorthumberland.org.uk.