7 outdoor museums and galleries to explore
Social distancing restrictions are set to be in place throughout autumn and winter, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on trips to museums and galleries. Many are reopening with new measures in place and there’s a whole selection of outdoor destinations you can visit to take in some history or art.
Whether you want contemporary art or a chance to learn about the past, there’s something for everyone on this list.
1. St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff
This is an open-air museum located in Cardiff showcasing the historical lifestyle, culture and architecture of the Welsh people. It consists of more than 40 buildings set in the grounds of the Grade I listed St Fagans Castle. While parts of the museum do take you indoors, there are extensive grounds and a farm that means you can keep your distance but still enjoy everything this museum has to offer. Tickets are free but you must book in advance.
2. Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Gloucestershire
Combine culture with exercise by strolling around the 4.5-mile-long Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. Established in 1986, this was one of the first sculpture parks to open in the UK and takes you through beautiful woodland filled with art installations that interpret the environment. There are currently 16 sculptures, including Kevin Atherton’s 15-foot by 10-foot glassed window that hangs high in the canopy and a giant cube assembled from an oak tree by Neville Gabie.
3. Beamish, Durham
Beamish is a living open-air museum that tells you the story of everyday life in the North of England from the 1820s through to the 1950s with a focus on industry and community. Being able to stroll down a recreated street from the 1910s gives you a whole new perspective and makes it a great choice if you’re looking for a family day out. Beamish welcomed its first visitors in 1972 and has won numerous awards and influenced other living museums. You must pre-book a timeslot to visit the museum.
4. Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, Nuneaton
Learn more about the decisive Battle of Bosworth at this heritage site. Guided walks will help you uncover more about this important battle which led to the death of King Richard III, famously the last English king to die in battle, and Henry Tudor taking the throne. While the walk will take you outdoors around the battlefield, to gain the full experience you can also visit the exhibition centre. You must book both the guided walk and an exhibition ticket in advance.
5. Pendle Sculpture Trail, Lancashire
Four artists have collaborated to create the Pendle Sculpture Trail to bring together art and history against a stunning backdrop. The Pendle Witches of 1612 inspired their work. Twelve people from the surrounding areas were accused of using witchcraft in 1612 to murder ten people, leading to executions by hanging for ten of the accused. Walking through the wood to discover the story ensures there’s an atmospheric setting and gives you a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the area too. It’s suggested that visitors allow two to three hours to enjoy the trail.
6. Historic Dockyard Chatham, Kent
This dockyard was one of the Royal Navy’s main facilities for hundreds of years until it closed in 1984 and today acts as a maritime museum. The 80-acre site includes many outside exhibits but some parts are indoors too. Among the must-see attractions are three historic warships, including HMS Victory, which launched in 1765 and was Nelson’s flagship in the Battle of Trafalgar. If you’re planning to take children, be sure to pick up a Dockyard Explorer Booklet that will provide missions for them to complete. You must book an arrival time in advance.
7. Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorset
Nestled in 26 acres of countryside, Sculpture by the Lakes is peaceful and tranquil. Sculptor, Simon Gudgeon, created the park and has more than 30 of his sculptures on display, all positioned carefully to take advantage of the natural beauty of the area. You can also appreciate the work of other artists and sculptors as you walk around the lake or step into the gallery. Sculpture by the Lakes has a no children under 14 policy and you must purchase a ticket.
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