Monday, February 05, 2007

Hidden treasures

Kingston upon Hull is a place we regularly pass through on the way to & from the P&O North Sea Ferries that go to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam.

On Sunday, however, we were there to revisit The Deep, the Millennium Aquarium project in the landmark building at the mouth of the River Hull which opened in 2002. We went there shortly after it opened and it was horribly crowded. This time, there was room to breathe although it did become much busier after lunch.

The highlight of the deep is a walk through a short tunnel through the deep tank (the surface is 30' above), followed by a scenic lift ride supposedly through the tank itself (in reality separated by huge thick semi-circular acrylic windows).

Being interested in Engineering as well as architecture, it is a challenge how to work out how this building fits together as it doesn't have too many walls inside that are vertical and parallel to each other. The exhibits spiral themselves down various ramps and platforms, the tour starting and finishing on the third floor.

I also noticed that an extension has been added to the building in keeping with the style giving them much more queueing space, a bigger gift shop and a new gallery opened by Kingston's prodigal Son himself, the Deputy Prime Minister, Chipolata Prescott in 2005.

The prow of the building is actually windows in the Cafe and there is a viewing gallery above, sadly not open on to the great unwashed. The £3.50 building guide book informs me that it is not a prow, but a nosecone. It also informs me that it is the world's only Submarium, but the world has been quietly dropped from the Deep Website apart from a context metatag.

Even lingering, the museum is only a two hour distraction, so we took in the opportunity to visit some nearby museums which were all free (although they didn't open until 1:30pm, locals presumably being leisurely risers).

Our first port of call was the Hands on history, located in an old school building. As well as lots of stuff you could touch and feel, there was also an Egyption exhibition with reproductions of Tutunkhamun furniture (made locally for the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924) their featuring very own Mummy.

We then moved on to the Streetlife Museum, a combination transport and street scene exhibit with a world exclusive- the Hull-York Mail Coach ride simulator!

Our final port of call was the Hull & East Riding museum, a combination of Natural History and Local archaeology. What I wasn't prepared for was the stunning collection of roman mosaics, one of which is shown here. Of interest was a panel of how they remove them- they essentially roll them up like a carpet after documenting them and glueing laminate sheeting to the surface.

Kingston also has a lightship and a Trawler to visit, but they are open seasonally. However, four museums is enough for a day out...


CityUnslicker said...

I am very impressed. Having been to Hull, I never had anything good to say about it. Neither has anyone I have ever met.

So congrats on making me view something in a new way.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Sounds a great day out to me! Have you ever been to the Egyptian exhibition at Swansea University, by the way?