As part of my research and to gain as much insight as possible to local museums I visited several of Hull’s museums:
Hull Maritime Museum
Wilberforce House Museum
Hull Streetlife Museum
Hull Martime Museum
My first visit was to Hull’s Maritime Museum which is housed in the old Dock Offices. The building itself is very impressive and a stunning piece of Hull’s architectural history. The building is in a very prominent position it was interesting to learn how the docks where situated close to the Dock Offices with Queen Garden a dock until 1930 when it was filled in. You will notice it was not fully filled in as the gardens are slightly lower than the surrounding streets.
The museum is very interesting and tells the story of the whaling and fishing industries which brought wealth and prestige to Hull in the 18th and 19th centuries. It houses a very comprehensive collection of Hull’s maritime artefacts and exhibits which were well displayed and documented. I did feel some displays were a little ‘tired’ and believe this is mainly due to budget constraints. After speaking to a couple of the museum volunteers who were very knowledgeable about the museum they explained that they were run by a private company called Hull Culture and Leisure (HCAL) which runs all the council’s leisure facilities, museums, libraries and parks as well as the City Hall and the New Theatre. This allows them to bid for lottery and other forms of funding which they could not apply for when part of Hull City Council.
I did leave thinking Hull could do so much more to attract visitors to this museum. I felt I wanted to know more about the whalers and trawler mens day to day lives. So many families in Hull have ancestors and family members who worked as whalers and trawler men it would a travesty if all their stories died with them.
Hull Streetlife Museum
My second visit was to Hull’s Streetlife Museum. The newer of the three buildings, the building itself as soon as you enter feels very fresh and modern although the exhibits are very old and you feel like you are going back in time. Exhibits, carriages and shop settings give a very informative display of Hull’s transport and shops through the ages. The street settings and vehicles including trams some of which you can ride on and sit on allow you to get a feel for that time in history; it rekindles memories for some visitors and is also an exciting place for children to learn about the history of transport.
As with the Maritime Museum the Streetlife Museum houses a very comprehensive collection of Hull’s artefacts and exhibits. The cobbled streets and tram lines you walk on as you go around the museum give you a feeling of how it would have been back then. Various exhibits most are true to scale including walk in shops all as they would have looked with items for sale from that period in time give a feel for how it would have been shopping. I could imagine how it would have felt to shop for a loaf of bread or bag of sweets.
I really enjoyed my visit here and came away feeling like I had learnt and experienced how people had traveled and shopped in the past.
Wilberforce House Museum
I visited the Wilberforce House Museum on a couple of occasions as there was so much information to take in. I was disappointed as I remember visiting as a child and seeing rooms displayed with furniture as an example of how they would have looked. All the furniture has now been removed and replaced mainly with boards of information. There are some exhibits and videos playing which are very interesting. Although there is a lot of information to read and it is difficult to take it all in one visit, all the information is clearly displayed and well written.
William Wilberforce’s life is told from childhood to his death in 1883 and the story of the fight against slavery. The museum was very educational you just need plenty of time to read a lot of information. The house is divided into sections, the story of the slave trade which was very moving, the story of William Wilberforce himself and the history of the house.
The building itself is very impressive, a beautiful period house which survived the bombing raids in the second world war.
With all the museums you do need time to meander to take in the stories and information being told by the displays and exhibits. I felt William Wilberforce House had a clinical feel to it, it was all very white. I did learn a lot about the abolishment of slavery as some of the exhibits were
Ferens Art Gallery
Unfortunately the Ferens Art Gallery is closed for refurbishment reopening in 2017. It would have been good to see how Ferens compared to the other museums. I am looking forward to it reopening in 2017, it will be interesting to see how interactive exhibitions are when it reopens.