Five quirky museum experiences

Published 6 January 2016

Start the new year with some new adventures. If one of your resolutions is to see something different, try one of these brilliantly unusual outings.

1. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge
Free entry to all

Intricately carved totem poles, bone-chilling head-taker baskets, Samurai armour, decorated walrus tusks from Siberia, Aztec flutes; this unassuming building is home to world-class collections of art, artefacts and archaeological discoveries from around the world. Collections include important objects from Captain Cook's first voyage to the Pacific in 1769, artefacts from the Palaeolithic era (2,000,000 to 100,000 years ago) and contemporary works of art.

2. HMS Belfast, London
50% off entry with National Art Pass

This could be your first and last museum experience while simultaneously floating on the River Thames. The largest preserved battleship in Europe, HMS Belfast tells the story of its many adventures from helping to sink a German vessel in Second World War to its use in the Korean War. You can wander freely through the ship's nine decks, experience life on board (visiting the dentist and sick bay is a somewhat creepy highlight) and learn about the technology used by the crew.

3. Fan Museum, London
Free entry with National Art Pass

Once ‘must-have’ objects, you’ll never look at the now largely defunct fan in the same way again. Explore 3,000 years of fan making through this prestigious collection. Often decorated with beautiful designs and painted scenes, and made with luxury materials such as lace, tortoiseshell, feathers, ivory, silk, satin, bone and horn, fans combine functionality with aesthetic delight. Highlights include a fan painted by Walter Sickert and a fan-shaped design by Paul Gauguin. Please note: the museum re-opens 16 January 2016.

4. Seven Stories, Tyne and Wear
Free entry with National Art Pass

Celebrating the role of children’s books in childhood and British culture, Seven Stories has remarkable collections highlighting the contributions of authors such as Enid Blyton, Philip Pullman and Judith Kerr to the genre. The museum not only houses original artwork and manuscripts from the nation’s most-treasured children’s books, but brings these fictions to life through daily story times and performances.

5. BDA Dental Museum, London
Free entry to all

Dentistry is often the stuff of nightmares and with Victorian dental keys, mechanical drills and tooth extractors on display, a trip to this museum will either cause minor palpitations or an unexpected interest in the history of dentistry. The museum also houses lively satirical works on the subject by Thomas Rowlandson and a collection of posters promoting oral health.

Enjoy 50% off admission price to major exhibitions and free entry to more than 220 museums and galleries with a National Art Pass.

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