Days Out: Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds
Sunday 18 June 2006
A vast monolith on the regenerated Leeds canal-side landscape, the Royal Armouries Museum is designed to look like a modern-day fort, complete with keep and watchtower. The museum is celebrating its 10th birthday (counting from when it moved out of the Tower of London), with a year-long festival of special events and exhibitions. The national collection of arms and armour - the largest of its kind in the world - is brought to life by the wealth of material on display and through its themed interpretations. These are performances using actors in costume portraying events from different periods. The outdoor events take place next door in the Tiltyard, which has tiered seating for spectators. There is also a Craft Court where you can see resident craftspeople working on guns and leather scabbards.
There are five themed galleries: War, Tournament, Oriental, Hunting and Self Defence. Much of the display is interactive. You can find out what it is like to hold a 15th-century poleaxe or a powder-firing musket and take a close-up look at the armour that Henry VIII actually wore. Bringing the question of weapons up to date, the Impact exhibition examines the effects of gun and knife crime in Leeds with video footage, displays and testimonies from victims and their families.
Workshops and activities - such as the CraftQuest sessions where kids can create their own piece of history by making swords and shields - run throughout the year. Forthcoming exhibitions include Alex Rider, Stormbreaker, to tie in with the film release of the Anthony Horowitz spy novel. This will include gadgets used in real-life espionage through various periods in history.
The Nelson Bistro on the ground floor serves a full range of meals, snacks and drinks. There are cafés on the second and fourth floor too. And there is a dedicated picnic area on the second floor.
There is full wheelchair access apart from the Hall of Steel. Wheelchairs are available to borrow for the whole day. Accessible toilet facilities are available. Hearing loop.
Open daily 10am-5pm, except 24 and 25 December. Entry is free although some events carry a charge.
How to get there
The Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, Leeds LS10 1LT (0870 034 4344; royalarmouries.org). A car park is 100 metres from the museum, which is a 15-minute walk from the train station and 10 minutes from the bus station.
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