Walking into the Booth Museum is like stepping back in time; not only to a much loved place of my childhood but right back to 1874 when Edward Thomas Booth founded his weird and wonderful museum of natural history.
Up the old stone steps, through the mysterious red wooden doors, you are greeted by a snarling brown bear and its cub directing you through to the entrance hall. In the dim moth ball atmosphere your attention is immediately drawn up to the floor to ceiling glass cases exhibiting a vast array of taxidermied birds all set in their natural habitats.
Each display is realistically put together with delicate intricacy, from the carnivorous Golden Eagles hunched over their latest kill, to the fluffy ducklings following their mother across the pond. Old Victorian display cases are full of jewel coloured exotic birds, while grandfatherly Tawny Owls peer spookily as you walk past.
Everywhere you look a new delight opens your eyes, be it bizarre or beautiful, it is all fascinating. Hands on learning in the Discovery Lab give children (and adults!) a chance for close fossil inspection, and in a world of butterflies a fun classroom is available for school trips.
In the final maze of rooms a large collection of skeletons are displayed, from a human to a horse, and a lot more in between.
On my last visit a man arrived to “pick up the rhino”, followed by lots of movement behind closed doors, then finally I overheard him ask who had the ears!
Who knows what other treasures this mysterious museum holds, I do know however that it is an exciting and wonderfully strange place to wonder around, which cannot help but exude Mr Booth’s passion for natural history.
Admission free, open Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri and Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 2 – 5pm, closed Thurs.
Written by Sara Harman-Clarke