on July 12, 2009
Carlisle is named the Great Border City, literally sitting on the border between Scotland and England. The only City in the county of Cumbria, it is steeped in history. Only miles from Hadrians wall and being constantly invaded and conquested between the Scots and the English for centuries, Carlisle's main museum and so called 'premier attraction of the North West' has a lot to cover. Tullie House museum and Art Gallery is situated in the centre of Carlisle. Directly across from Carlisle Castle, a 900 year old fortress famous for Mary Queen of Scot's imprisonment and more recently home to the Border Regiment. The Border galleries covers Carlisle from Stone age times right through to Victorian England. Unsurprisingly the largest exhibit is Roman Carlisle, and a vast array of Roman artefacts are displayed. However, Tullie House is a very Interactive Museum and here you can experience a life sized section of Hadrians Wall, try on some Roman armour, write in wax, trace over stones, straddle a roman horse, experience a roman hut and have a go at using a bow and arrow to catch a (pretend) goat. The Border galleries also house the wildlife galleries. The wildlife dome is an interactive area which gives an 8 minute audio-visual of Cumbria with dramatic and life like sky patterns. You can look underneath rocks and floor boards to discover the critters lurking beneath. My daughters favourite, and my most hated part, are drawers and glass displays of stuffed animals, ranging from a lowly wasp to a now extinct in Britain, buzzard. Finally theres the Border Reivers Cinema, this gives the story of the Border Reiver, but is quite graphic and violent, it carries a pg rating. This area is very inter-active and child friendly. Many places along the way have book bags, information packs, drawing areas and quizzes, aswell as being physically interactive. Theres a lovely little sofa with a small childs library, my daughter loves to stop off here for a sit down and a read. The Carlisle life gallery is a new area of the museum, and as you might guess, chronicles life in Carlisle over the last 100 years. Did you know that Carlisle was the reason for state management and why Pubs had to shut at 11pm? It's full of trivia like this from over the last century. Again this is a very interactive area having old toys, appliances and costumes to try on. Special exhibits are also housed here, at present it's the 'feel the force' exhibit. Very interactive and aimed at young children you can, amongst other things, create a whirl pool, a black hole, discover gravity and create your own damn. Added in 2000-01, the Millenium Gallery houses a stunning collection of Cumbrian minerals and a fresh water life exhibition. This is the most child friendly area of the museum, with many interactive features and craft areas. Catch a fish, look through microscopes at water insects, and colour and quiz to your hearts content. This area also has an underground walkway which leads directly to Carlisle Castle, and is home to the infamous 'Cursing Stone' The Cursing stone is sculpted granite, inscribed with a 16th century curse against robbers, blackmailers and highwaymen who blighted the area 500 years ago. Since its reconstruction in 2000 by artist Andy Altman, the stone has been blamed by the more superstitious in Carlisle for foot and mouth disease in 2001, major flooding of the city in 2004, local fires, job losses and even the relegation of the football team! Old Tullie House is a classical Jacobean grade one listed building, home to Issac Tullie who famously wrote a journal of the seige of Carlisle during the cival war. In here you can find displays of pottery and paintings from local artists, or of people with a connection to the county. This part of the museum focus's on family life and people. There is also a fascinating 'Childs' room which has an 18th century replica school room set up as well as costumes, toys and early perambulators on display. There are some interactive games for children in here. Aswell as the museum, Tullie House also exhibits art. The current exhibition is Donald Wilkinson: Stains of light. An artist who takes huge inspiration from the Cumbrian Lake district. Tullie house also showcases an alternative film on a Monday, and runs sevral workshops for children and adults alike. Current examples of Workshops are Baby Animals and Puppet Lab for children, Jewelry making and Mindfulness for adults. Every Sunday a drop in craft session is run for anyone, of whatever age, who would like to attend. The cafe/resteraunt is large and airy. Theres is a wide variety of hot and cold homemade food available, high quality with reasonable prices. Also available to hire as a function room. The gardens are licensed for cival ceramonies. Prices Adults - £5.20 Concessions - £3.60 Children 18 years and Under - Free (This does not apply to school groups) Admission free to Carlisle District residents with a Tullie Card. Discounted admission charges are available for groups, families, senior citizens, students and people with disabilities. I live in carlisle, so as a citizen I get free entry and me and my 4 year old daughter visit every couple of months. I always mean to visit without her, as for children it's very interactive and interesting but there's a lot more reading I would like to do which I just don't get the chance to do while she is there. Theres so much history in this small City and surrounding area's and this museum gives a good insight. It is a really good attraction, definitely worthy of half a day plus lunch. If your visiting Carlisle then the Castle is literally 5 minutes away, and the Cathedral the same in the other direction. Both are must see's in Carlisle and I'd reccomend them both.
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