2024-02-22T17:35:00Z By Keeley Rodgers
Whether it’s exciting exhibitions, terrific tours or awesome attractions, here’s a round-up of just some of the big new openings on our radar this year.
Museum of Land Speed
The museum in Wales is undergoing a major transformation and is due to reopen this spring to tell visitors all about the amazing vehicles that have made it into the record books. The stretch of sand in Pendine, where the museum is based, has seen many land-speed records set and broken, including Sir Malcom Campbell’s ‘Blue Bird’ car in 1923 (pictured above). The museum will have new exhibits such as a digital hub on a mezzanine floor overlooking the beach, as well as physical artefacts highlighting the area’s rich history.
St Mary’s Guildhall
The historic St Mary’s Guildhall located in Coventry’s cathedral quarter has teamed up with Coventry Cathedral to offer a special combined tour of both venues to groups. St Mary’s Guildhall has now reopened after an extensive £6m refurbishment programme including the repair and restoration of the 500-year-old Coventry Tapestry and a newly uncovered Medieval Kitchen – one of the best preserved in the UK and now fully accessible for the first time in just under 100 years. Groups can also enjoy refreshments in the restored Tales of Tea restaurant in the Undercroft at St Mary’s Guildhall before visiting Coventry Cathedral for more history.
The Land of Iron Museum
Formerly known as the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum, the permanent exhibition has reopened after a multi-million project to redevelop and expand the visitor experience which tells the story of North Yorkshire’s coastal mining heritage. The museum stands on the site of the first ironstone mine in Cleveland in the small village of Skinningrove close to Staithes and Saltburn on the North York Moors National Park coastline. It takes visitors back in time to the industrial revolution when the area and its people supplied over a third of the world’s iron and steel. Alongside collections of artefacts and photographs, there are interactive displays for all ages.
A £15m project to transform Manchester Museum into ‘the most imaginative and caring museum around’ is all but complete. It will reopen with a new two-storey extension, exhibition hall, the South Asia Gallery and the Chinese Culture Gallery. The existing museum will also gain an impressive new entrance, a shop, café, picnic areas and other inclusive, fully accessible visitor facilities. Its opening exhibition will be the UK premiere of Golden Mummies of Egypt featuring more than 100 objects and eight mummies which presents a rich perspective on beliefs about the afterlife during an era when Egypt was part of the Greek and Roman worlds.
The British Museum
Luxury and power: Persia to Greece is one of the museum’s biggest displays in 2023, exploring the relationship between luxury and power in the Middle East and southeast Europe between 550-30 BC. Running from 4th May until 15th August, the exhibition will feature exceptional loans including the Panagyurishte Treasure from Bulgaria. Last displayed in the UK in 1976, it’s being described as a once in a generation opportunity to see the ancient treasure. Jewellery and objects from the British Museum collection will also go on show.
St Rule’s Tower
More history can be discovered at St Rule’s Tower, which has reopened to the public once again. Visitors to St Andrews Cathedral on the east coast of Scotland can once again enjoy access to the town’s highest vantage point following essential masonry work to battle the effects of climate change. From the top of the tower, you can see right across the cathedral precinct, across the town, the castle and out over the sea and countryside. Ladders between wooden floors inside the tower were originally the only way to get to the top, but a stone staircase was added in the 18th century which visitors use to this day.
The Faith Museum
Auckland Castle’s Faith Museum will be the first museum in England to explore the story of faith in the British Isles, its implications and its meaning for us today. Due to open this autumn, the museum in County Durham will have seven gallery spaces across two floors and will be housed in the historic Scotland Wing of Auckland Castle in a new extension. Architects looked at the medieval tithe barn building type as inspiration for the custom-built space. It’s said the team has worked closely with local faith communities, academic advisors and more to create a respectful and engaging look through history.
The Queen’s Gallery
This spring, a major exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace will reveal life in the 18th century through the fashions of the day. This era is described by historians as an exciting period when trade, entertainment and technological innovations became driving forces for iconic fashion trends across all levels of society. Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians will bring together more than 200 works from the Royal Collection, including paintings, prints and drawings by artists such as Gainsborough, Zoffany and Hogarth, as well as rare surviving examples of clothing and accessories. The exhibition will run from 21st April until 8th October.
Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, County Durham
With an exciting programme of events and different exhibits opening, there has never been a better time to visit the open air museum in County Durham. The attraction, which tells the story of life in the 1820s, early 1900s, 1940s and 1950s, is preparing to open several new attractions this year as part of the Remaking Beamish project, the biggest development in the museum’s history. New exhibits opening in the 1950s town include a pair of police houses and their associated single-storey office, semi-detached houses, a terrace of aged miners’ homes, The Grand (a 1950s cinema) and a bowling green and pavilion. In the 1820s landscape, the museum is due to open a Georgian pottery and a Drover’s Tavern serving Georgian-inspired food and drink.
Dickens House Museum
A new walking trail will be launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs, which first opened on 16th June 1973. The trail will start and end at the museum, highlighting the author’s connections to the area, and will be available from April when the museum opens for the season. Dickens House was originally a small Tudor building, extended and remodelled in Victorian times. Dickens based the character of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield on Miss Mary Pearson Strong, who once lived there.