Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Media Museum

The National Media Museum, Bradford
A couple of friends and I had a day out at the National Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire. We got to Bradford around lunch time so the first thing we did was to visit the local Weatherspoon's for lunch.

The outside of the pub was small so I naturally assumed that it was going to be small once we got inside. I couldn't have been more wrong. The place was huge! I think it must have been a cinema at one time but had at some stage been converted into a pub. We were able to get a nice meal there for a reasonable price, with a nice glass of Fosters to wash it down. After lunch it was just a short walk around the corner to get to the National Media Museum.

A well-restored tourist coach
When we got there we saw a nice old coach bringing some visitors to the museum. I'm not quite sure how old the coach was but it looked to be in better condition that a lot of the newer coaches on the road nowadays. I wonder if today's coaches will last as long as that one.

After spending a few minutes admiring the coach we went into the museum. It was originally the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, which first opened to visitors in June 1983, and the home of Britain's largest cinema screen, IMAX, which is five storeys high and has six channel sound. Entrance to the museum is free, but there is a charge for entrance into the cinema.

In 1989, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of photography, the museum launched the Kodak Gallery. The museum literature states that there are "some 10,000 items illustrating popular photography from its invention right up to the present day". This was followed by the installation of a standard television studio, first used by TV-am (for outside broadcasts) and later Nickelodeon. These were the first ever live broadcasting studios installed in a museum.

There are seven permanent exhibitions at the museum:
  • Kodak Gallery: Covering photography from the 1840's.
  • Experience TV: 200 objects from museum collections, and hands-on displays.
  • TV Heaven: An opportunity to select from 1,000 television programmes to watch.
  • Magic Factory: The science behind television.
  • Animation: The history of animation, with a permanent 'Animator in Residence'.
  • Profiles Gallery and IMAX Projector Box: The film collection.
  • Games Lounge: Retro games from your childhood to play in the foyer area.

The view from the top floor of the museum
The museum closed in August 1997 to allow for a £16 million redevelopment which eventually made it twenty five per cent bigger. The IMAX cinema was also improved enabling it to show 3D films.

While we were there we had the chance to see a TV showing 3D programmes. I have to admit that I have never been a fan of 3D before but after watching some of those programmes I can see why it is so appealing. Now, if only we could watch 3D without those awful glasses. The refurbishment created a new digital technology gallery and the museum now hosts the BBC's Bradford offices and studios for BBC Radio Leeds. The new development also created a new glass-fronted atrium which houses a new cafe and shop.

The new-look museum was opened on 16 June 1999 by Pierce Brosnan, and on 01 December 2006, it was renamed the National Media Museum.

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