A wealth of knowledge

Date Posted: 03/11/2010

Expand your minds as Group Leisure takes you on a journey of discovery, with ideas for educational and informative visits.

Science and space

The National Space Centre, just outside Leicester, has six interactive galleries, 360 degree space theatre shows, a 42 metre rocket tower, rides, and over a hundred artefacts - hopefully something that can appeal to every member of your group.

Groups of 15 or over benefit from discounted entry fees, fast track admission, free familiarisation visits for group organisers, and additional workshops, amongst other things.

The touring exhibition, Inside DNA, is now open at Liverpool World Museum until April. Inside DNA is all about our health, our identity and our evolution. It is an exhibition that aims to engage groups in current and future UK-based human molecular genetics and genomics research, providing the tools to enable them to explore the issues that recent developments have raised.

Designed to provoke questions and stimulate debate, Inside DNA delves into ethical questions such as whether genetic testing will lead to discrimination, who will benefit most from genetic medicines, and the role of DNA databases.

Thinktank, Birmingham’s state-of-the-art digital Planetarium has a range of educational and fun shows to transport your group on amazing journeys through the galaxy and to the surface of alien planets, even allowing visitors to travel through the human body, and immerse themselves in displays of music and light.

The Thinktank Planetarium is free to Thinktank visitors.

Groups can discover just how amazing they are in At-Bristol’s latest exhibition All About Us, which launches in February. All About Us will feature over 50 new or significantly enhanced hands-on exhibits allowing visitors to test human phenomena.

Visitors will be able to discover how amazing their brains and bodies are and how they work together to enable us to relate to the world and people around us. Use the ‘vein viewer’ to look at your veins under infrared lights, use a high-speed camera to see how you look when startled, or explore the limits of your own hearing range. Special group rates and advantages are available.

Further afield

For groups looking for a really ‘out of this world’ experience, and with slightly bigger budgets, then the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida really has it all.

There are a variety of different ticket options for seeing the many exhibits, shows and attractions that are on offer. The Visitor Complex ticket includes access to the new Hubble Telescope exhibit, Eye on the Universe, the Shuttle Launch Experience, the Rocket Garden and IMAX® films. One optional upgrade includes ‘Lunch with an Astronaut’ which does exactly what it says on the tin.

If you are a smaller group, then you can book ATX Core, a half-day astronaut training experience. This experience promises to offer participants a true taste of space flight by combining training activities and mission simulations led by educators and space flight experts. Developed with input from veteran NASA astronauts, the hands-on programme includes a mission briefing by a member of the U.S. astronaut corps and question-and-answer session, true-to training simulator exercises and a space shuttle mission simulation aboard a full-scale space shuttle mock-up.

Dove Cottage in Cumbria was the home of William Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808, when he was at his most prolific. Groups can visit the cottage, which used to be an inn called the Dove and Olive, alongside the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery.

The attractions offer a special price and free organiser/tour supervisor places for advance bookings of parties of ten or more paying visitors.

The Charles Dickens Museum in London has a wealth of material relating to the great Victorian novelist and social commentator, and is based at his former home in Doughty Street. Here, between 1837 and 1839, Dickens completed famous works such as The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. The museum, set in an early Georgian house, was first opened in 1925 by the Dickens Fellowship. Special opening times can be arranged for groups, who may wish to book a private view of the museum.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s wit and humour remains as relevant and entertaining today as it was over 600 years ago when he was alive. Learn more about his magnum opus, The Canterbury Tales, at the attraction of the same name in Kent. Groups can step back in time and join Chaucer and his colourful characters, on their pilgrimage from London to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. Along the way, their stories of love, romance, jealousy and trickery are vividly re-created.

A discounted admission price is available for pre-booked groups of 15 or more. This includes a free audio commentary.

Launching next year, groups can enjoy a brand new walking tour in Stratford-upon-Avon, Cradle to Grave. The two-hour tour is an experience that follows the journey of Shakespeare’s life, from his Birthplace to his final resting place at Holy Trinity Church.

A variety of other special themed tours are available after normal opening hours.

Groups wishing to find out more about the great Dr Johnson, creator of the world’s first dictionary and said to be the second most quoted Englishman after Shakespeare, can arrange a free guided tour of his house in London. The property is a four-storey townhouse dating to the end of the 17th century; and it was here that writer, critic and wit Samuel Johnson lived and worked - completing most of his monumental Dictionary of the English Language in the garret of the house.

The tours, which groups must book in advance, give an insight into Johnson’s larger than life character, his many ailments - from scrofula to the black dog - and, of course, his work on the Dictionary.

Further afield

The James Joyce Centre in Dublin runs walking tours throughout the year. The walks are a great way for groups to explore Joyce’s Dublin. Indeed, more than any other modern author, Joyce placed a huge degree of emphasis on the geography of Dublin and for many readers the city has become the central character of his work.

Customised walks can be created for groups who wish to explore other areas of the city or focus on a particular text/theme. For example, the ‘In the Footsteps of Leopold Bloom’ tour retraces the steps of Ulysses’s protagonist as he makes his way across the city for a spot of lunch. In addition, free house tours of the centre are available, as are workshops and lectures. They involve a short introductory talk about Joyce and his work, followed by a guided tour of the exhibition.

Living history

The Imperial War Museum North, Manchester has a variety of educational group tours on offer that explore personal stories featured in the museum, its special exhibitions and the architecture of its building. Object handling sessions are another great option.

Many of the benefits to groups are free of charge, with the option of charged sessions to further enhance your visit. All of the displays and exhibitions will be accompanied by visitor programme activities - such as talks and tours.

The museum’s major new exhibition for 2011 is War Correspondent: reporting under fire since 1914, opening in late May.

Groups looking for historical re-enactments need look no further than Tatton Park in Cheshire, where next year there will be an American Civil War re-enactment, and a Medieval Fayre.

The estate operates a series of special interest tours, including the Butler and Housekeeping tour; an opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of a Victorian servant and get a taste of what life was like below stairs. There is also Wash Day, a tour that will have you cheering for the washing machine and tumble dryer, as you witness how domestic chores used to be laboured over in times gone by.

Groups visiting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard can opt for a guided tour of HMS Warrior 1860. A variety of specialist talks are available, covering a range of topics including Victorian engineering, naval navigation, and social history.

There is a maximum group size of 20 per guide, however tours can be run at 15-minute intervals allowing an overall group size of up to 60 people.

The Mary Rose Museum is also offering hour-long guided tours. Led by a costumed guide, participants will have the chance to handle replica artefacts from the wreckage. Specialist talks are also available for those who want to learn more about Tudor history. Refreshments are available after the tour for an additional £2.75 per head. There is a maximum group size of 40, based on the group being split between two guides. Both tours each cost £5 per person and £7 with a specialist talk.

Home to 20 crafts men and women, the Jinney Ring Craft Centre in Worcestershire is one of only a few true working craft centres in the UK, and boasts 12 different craft workshops for groups to view. You will see potters, wood workers, a violin maker, jeweller and felt maker, alongside glass making, chocolate tempering and oil painting.

The craft centre is also home to a falconry unit which runs courses and familiarisation sessions with magnificent birds of prey in and around the lovely grounds and gardens.

Spend a morning or afternoon exploring behind-the-scenes at the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive and Research Centre based in Hackney. Discover the Museum’s award-winning archaeological archive which has an incredible ten kilometres of shelves holding objects from around London - the archive provides a wealth of academic resource for people to try and make sense of the past.

The archaeological archive tour costs £7.50 per person. Tours can accommodate a minimum of ten and a maximum of 20 people. If your group size exceeds this, contact the centre to discuss how the museum can accommodate your group.


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