We have lived in Sheffield for 6 years now and as it usually happens, you take wonderful things close to home for granted. It’s easier to dream and write about faraway destinations like our travels in Morocco and China. Yet recently I really enjoyed writing about our top picks in some of the wonderful national parks – Peak District and Lake District – we have been to here in England. Even closer than that is our very own – First City of Sanctuary and the Greenest City in England – SHEFFIELD 🙂
Before I write a post (or two) about our top favourite spots to visit and what people – solo, couple or family travelers – would enjoy here, I will share what’s fresh on my mind from our lovely day out in Sheffield today visiting Weston Park Museum with the kids, with a quick stopover at the Alfred Denny Museum located at the University of Sheffield Alfred Denny Building. I guess there are some perks to having your ‘office’ at the University 😉
Wonderful thing about most Museums in England – they are free! Whether it’s massive ones like the British Museum or Science Museum in London (which we love) to most other large and small ones across the country, we have thoroughly enjoyed this free privilege and have had several fun family days out. Sheffield has a few Museums, you can see here and they are all quite small. But they have different interesting exhibits throughout the year and organize several family events and activities during half term and holidays. Weston Park Museum is the one I have been to the most as it is right next door to my University Building. It has a lovely Park outside where the city council organizes summer fairs and concerts. Great running/walking trail around the park with a pond and bridge on one side, Tennis courts (not sure who can book here) on another. Also very centrally located near few other attractions – Crookes Valley Park and the Sheffield Botanical Gardens, a bit further down. There are also some great restaurants and Pubs nearby. Details of these will have to be another post!
Weston Park Museum is relatively small but it has several fields covered – natural history, world culture and traditions, local Sheffield history, Roman history and geology as well. What’s great is the hands-on interactive tools, gadgets and activities which make it a fun experience for the children. It is geared towards younger children – under 8 (in my opinion) but there was plenty for older kids, my son is 9 and he was fascinated by the World War sections – as he is learning about it in school at the moment. He also found Sheffield’s steel industry history and the rock collections very interesting.
They skimmed over all the local history exhibits on Sheffield – I personally found it fascinating – until they got to olden day toys and some of the craftsmanship displays which were also quite hands on with the learning.
My personal favourite here, and the kids as well, is the Natural World section. It is quite expansive and covers eco regions from across the globe. Strong focus on wildlife in England and Scotland which was great, kids had fun identifying the birds as well as learning about local wildlife. There were other rooms that had displays of animals and ecosystems such as the Arctic, Tropics and Ice Age. Unfortunately several of the rooms were dimly lit and we couldn’t quite read all the names of the species (nor take any nice pictures.) Very interactive though with fun quizzes and other visual aids.
One of the other really interesting sections was the Treasures from across the world Here we saw 19th century Japanese Dolls, Egyptian mummies, Chinese treasures and a whole lot more. We did rush through here a bit as kids were very hungry. Thankfully there is a Cafe inside the Museum which serves home-made fresh food. A bit expensive and service quite slow, but the food was very good and we spoilt ourselves with a few souvenirs from the Gift Shop as well 🙂
After we were done with the Museum and enjoyed a bit of sunshine outside, we went next door to my Office. Whilst passing through the Alfred Denny Museum (outside my lab) we saw that it was open for an undergraduate teaching session and we went in briefly (I have been several times before with the kids, and never tire of it!)
This Museum was established in 1905 and named after the university’s first professor of biology in 1950. The museum has “High quality specimens from across the globe from all major phyla including fossils and material of extinct animals, which demonstrate the diversity of animal life on earth.” It opened to the public in 2012 and can be visited first Saturday of each month for guided tours at 10am, 11am and 12pm. You need to reserve your place here as it gets booked up pretty quickly.
We were quite lucky that for whatever reason, our school’s half term was this week whereas everyone else’s is next. It meant that we got to enjoy the Museum all to ourselves without hordes of other kids around 🙂 But there are some really exciting family events planned here for next week, so be sure to check it out if you are in Sheffield!
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