A wet, miserable and grey Saturday we decided to take a trip out but do something indoors. The National Media Museum in Bradford was a place I had long wanted to visit, we never seemed to get around to it. This trip fixed that. A drive in pouring rain to Bradford, we found the museum easily and managed to get a parking spot in the car park right behind.
This is such a fun place to visit with seven floors of archives, galleries and exhibition spaces. They had special activities and exhibits going on – these looked unbearably busy – we avoided and got on with exploring the vast amount of other things on display here.
We started at the bottom and worked our way up. The Kodak Gallery in the basement was practically empty. All to do with the history of photography from the first photographs right up to the digital cameras we know and love today and it was fascinating. I love photos and everything about them so this was right up my street. It was good for Son too, plenty of interactive stuff and the information was pitched just right – not too heavy.
We read about how photographs were invented, saw a camera obscura and then walked into a reconstruction of a photography studio from the 1800’s complete with an old camera. Son was amazed at how incredibly bright it was, the walls and ceilings were lit up – a necessity to get a good picture. We also strolled through the Victorian drawing room next door which had more information on photography from that time.
My favourite part was the camera displays – from Box Brownies right up to the most modern digital cameras, they had lots of examples here. I showed Son something similar to the first camera I ever owned, a much anticipated and treasured Christmas present – like a dinosaur these days.
One level up we found a gallery all about the internet, its history and how it has changed people’s lives. Son loved this area, not least because there were stacks of interactive games exploring the story of the internet. I enjoyed the floor display with old computers and electronic items under your feet.
Experience TV was Son’s favourite area – all about television. We saw John Logie Baird’s original apparatus and found television sets from down the years. Son got stuck in at the production zone – he presented the news, operated a camera in a mock up studio and had great fun with a green screen. It was incredibly busy here but we enjoyed all the different experiences on offer.
TV Heaven was another interesting area. We saw lots of characters from children’s television down the ages, watched some TV programs from the past, saw iconic TV moments in a little cinema and and were enchanted by some very old adverts.
The Games Lounge was a big hit too with classic games in their original arcade or console format and a bit of information about the history of video gaming. I remember the game they are playing below and the excitement it caused in our family.
There is an IMAX cinema here too and some regular film screenings there. We didn’t do this due to time constraints but I thought it was interesting that the IMAX here was the first of its kind in Europe. The screen is so big it had to be lowered into the auditorium through the roof.
We spent the whole day here, a brief stop in the gift shop and then we left at closing time. What a great museum, something for everyone and entrance is free. Thumbs up all round.