Relocating to the UK for work can be daunting, but there are plenty of quirky attractions to excite and keep an assignee occupied in their spare time. Samantha Cox from SilverDoor Serviced Apartments takes us through some of her favourite unusual galleries and museums.
If you’ve been relocated to the UK, you’re certainly never going to be short of exhibitions; all the major cities have galleries worth visiting from the museums dotted around Liverpool’s Albert Docks to the IKON gallery in Birmingham and the Tate in St Ives.
But if you’re looking for something a little different, eschew the most famous galleries and museums, and you’ll find plenty to see that’s intriguing and one of a kind.
London, with its hundreds of museums and endless human traffic, can afford to be eclectic in its exhibitions. I’ve seen plenty of strange exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection, for example, a free gallery in Euston which tends to celebrate all things medical and macabre. But there are always unusual exhibitions springing up.
The Antony Gormley exhibition currently at the White Cube Bermondsey appears fairly standard until you enter the huge, cast-iron statue called ‘Body’. It has a basic premise – it’s a sculpture that you can climb inside and explore – but clambering through its chambers, from light to dark, high to low, I felt scared and excited at the same time, and not sure what I was going to encounter next.
Elsewhere in the country there are other, equally extraordinary galleries and museums. The Black Country Museum is a ‘living museum’ in the Midlands, with a Victorian fish & chip shop that has been transported, brick-by-brick, onto the site (and which sells, quite frankly, incredible chips); an old-fashioned sweet shop; vintage trams; and even ‘charismatic residents’ who tell their stories.
Further north, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, just one mile from Junction 38 of the M1, contains work from some of the UK’s best known sculptors, including one of Europe’s largest collections of Henry Moore’s work, in 400 acres of rolling parkland. Experiencing sculpture in the open air is completely different to experiencing it in a gallery; there’s plenty of space to walk around and you can contemplate it from a distance.
In Scotland, Edinburgh’s wonderful Museum of Childhood has an astonishingly broad collection of toys from centuries past, from dolls and teddy bears to train sets, and visitors can even take part in old-fashioned games. It’s fascinating, if occasionally slightly creepy.
Then there’s the pencil museum in Cumbria, not one but two lawnmower museums, the pram museum in Rugby and a mustard shop in Norwich.
Wherever you’re relocated to in the UK, there should be an unusual museum or gallery to visit if you look hard enough.