Pondering history and getting to know your environment

Today I went to three museums… the Architecture Centre (well, I would, wouldn’t I.. the planner and conservation-ist in me can’t help it!), Arnolfini and M-Shed.  I also wandered along the river and took lots of photographs.

Bristol (on a bus in M-Shed)

Bristol (on a bus in M-Shed)

At The Architecture Centre they have an ever changing programme of events and exhibitions, sited in a harbourside building.  The current exhibition focuses on what the future of the city could look like, and invites lots and lots of post it note contributions to add ideas to the city map.  There are showcases of successful environmental schemes and projects, I was amused and intrigued to see “The Bristol pound”, first of all it looks really aesthetically pleasing, but secondly it is run on the basis of community good and helps support local businesses.  Great idea!  A small display on “Bristol Opening Doors” was really interesting as it invited people to contribute stories and “favourite buildings”, and also showcased a new app which is a walking trail (available on www.bristolopeningdoors.org ).  I enjoyed the illustrations and design of this, and of course the wonderful buildings!  I am starting to recognise more and more of the streetscape and landmarks here, and this will help discover more.  Chatting briefly to the friendly staff there I also was given a flyer for a website called “Know Your Place: Learning and Sharing Information about Historic Bristol”, run by English Heritage and Bristol City Council.  I am looking forward to exploring this properly, as yesterday (on my visit to the City Art Gallery and Museum) I was fascinated with the historic maps… this site lets you overlay and integrate different maps from various eras.  Oooh!  Just what I am after, as I can spot the places where my ancestors lived. Ideal for “Are You Here” research!

This was my first visit to Arnolfini, I have walked past it many times but always en route to somewhere else or whizzing past on my bike.  I enjoyed the Susanne Kriemann’s Modelling (Construction School) exhibition, it brings a little of an “art- planning- environment” discussion into a contemporary art environment.  The photographs of quarries were quite spectacular, many of the works are designed to provoke discussion on archives, and also problem solving in design education.

M-Shed could keep me amused for hours, it is full of all sorts of historical bits and pieces, I really did get lost in history.  Interestingly for me, there was a whole section on Bristol people and families, saying “it’s important to know where you’ve come from so that you know where you’re going”… the question was posed “why did you leave?”.

M-Shed Family History Information Panel

M-Shed Family History Information Panel

In the case of my family I suspect it was for work as it would have to be a fairly major reason such as this to move to the opposite end of the country.  There are themed galleries at M-Shed, Bristol people, Bristol life, Bristol places (and a special exhibition, currently on chocolate!), all of them have real objects to explore, some thought provoking interactive displays (I loved the one on “what makes a Bristolian”.. very funny mixtures of answers come out of that!), video and multimedia and also lots of transport to explore.  No “please keep off” signs here.  I am even starting to recognise the different Bristol districts, having passed through them by bike or bus at various points of my several visits over the years, it is nice to recognise things in a “technically not home” city!  M-shed cafe is worth a visit, local produce, family friendly, vegan friendly and lovely views.

Oh, and did I mention the view from the roof terrace….

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Oooh! Look what I got in my change today! | Crenellated Arts
  2. calmgrove

    Ooh, you’ve made me quite nostalgic! Great you’re discovering Bristol’s many attractions, especially the Architectural Centre (which I haven’t re-visited for a while) and M-Shed (which I only saw this year after a massive re-vamp). Aren’t the map overlays marvellous? I’d already favourited the link but this was a welcome reminder.

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