Little museums

BBC News: The nation’s attic.

The original Bagpuss. A dollop of medieval poo. A fingerprint machine. A skeleton or two. While national institutions grab all the attention, much of the UK’s regional identity is enshrined in small museums. Like the very best sort of attic – stuffed to the rafters with quirky relics and keepsakes – the small museums that cover the UK contain a treasure trove for those who choose to burrow within their sometimes unprepossessing walls. The curious browser might find all manner of treasures that, while unlikely to attract high bids at auction, provide valuable insights into times past. It is history, contained within everyday objects and personal mementos. For seemingly ordinary artefacts are now recognised as just as important a source of information as weighty research and official documents.

The Ipswich Museum had a lot of Roman finds, including a section of mosaic floor, coins, pottery, and tools. Colchester Castle Museum had a genuine mummy. One Suffolk museum (could have been Bury St Edmunds) had stone chambers under it that used to be filled with sand. Ste Genevieve in Missouri has a museum explaining why the town moved uphill, and about the original settlers. St Louis has a good history museum and an art museum (don’t point and laugh at the Picasso’s or the security guard will follow you till you leave). I like the little museums.

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