Sunday was mystery tour day. We headed to the train station and hopped on the first train out of town, it was to Manchester. A tough looking lady dowsed in cheap perfume got on at Bolton. My son wrinkled his nose as if to say ‘What is that smell?’ He is so scent sensitive at the moment. I started sweating, praying he would not make his thoughts heard aloud, as he often does. But he didn’t, he carried on solving a maze and remained schtum. Good lad.
We hopped off at Oxford Road station and made our way up to the Manchester Museum. As soon as my lad spotted the giant Japanese spider crab in the window he got excited, cool, deadly looking stuff to look at – yeah! He was fascinated by the neolithic artifacts – axe and spear heads, chisels and other assorted items that could kill or maim. Something deadly and super old, like thousands of years old, and discovered right by the River Ribble close to where we live. That’s very cool.
He skimmed through the Egyptians, embalming and mumification come later in the curriculum I think. Although he was intrigued by hieroglyphics but it was busy and he wanted to move on to the vivarium. That was a bit exciting. We saw a Poison Dart Frog, apparently he had always wanted to see one and there in front of him was a real one hopping along merrily with his friend, the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog . We saw a snake, iguana and a big fat frog who stayed very still. I imagine he didn’t hop much, I would have liked him to have hopped a bit more. In fact it was frog-tastic, they were everywhere and their babies too. There was hundreds of tadpoles in a tank marked ‘Frog’, it perplexed my son until I explained the life cycle of a frog. Frogs, eh? What fun.
We moved onto stuffed things next, stuffed tigers, monkeys , bird, tarantulas or a big spider at least. Quite how you stuff a spider is beyond me but they have one. And skeletons too. The snake spine is particularly impressive, my son hoped it was a giant centipede at first.
Right up top they have a picnic and family area, the children can do drawing, colouring and rubbings of etchings on the tables. Also up here is a skeleton called Bone-apart tucked away in the back room. My lad was fascinated, he could touch the skeleton and see where the bones joined. I got him to compare his bones to the skeleton’s.
“Where does the pooh come out?” was one of his many questions.
He didn’t want to leave the skeleton, he loved it. He could touch it and it was quiet, just me, him and the skeleton. But leave him we did and went downstairs to take a look at monkey skulls, origami birds and wildlife. The monkey skulls were alongside human skulls, so we could see the likeness to our distant cousins.
I imagine some of the monkeys were super cute when they were alive, it made me want to go to Monkey World even more.
I was fascinated by the many, many origami birds on display, my son less so. By the time we hit the basement he was starting to get tired, although the globe with lights highlighting volcanoes and earthquakes did grab his attention. A lot of his questions lately have centred around hypothetical situations involving earthquakes and volcanoes. I’ve tried to explain fault lines and weaknesses in the earth’s crust and here he could see where all the action goes on.
There was much more to see and do at the Manchester Museum, we spent the final portion of our visit making a bug mobile to take home. Its situated in a lovely old building and a great place to spend a morning or afternoon plus its free.
Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester. Tel 0161 275 2648