Family Outings: The American Museum, Bath
The great north-south divide, US style
Sunday 13 June 2004
The American Museum in Bath is dedicated to showing us how our transatlantic cousins lived from the 1680s to the 1860s. Set in Claverton Manor, this gorgeous neo-classical manor was bought by two Americans in 1961 to display their collection of American furniture and artefacts. Eighteen period rooms show the development of Americana, from the time of the earliest English settlers to the eve of the Civil War.
Something for children
Look out for re-enactments and special workshops. These include displays of Native American dancing and a re-enactment of a Civil War battle.
Something for adults
In addition to the period rooms - which show how America taught itself to stop apeing Europe and become American instead - the museum houses the best collection of quilts outside the US. And if you have ever wondered what is the difference between Shaker and Pennsylvania German styles, this is the place to find out. For tree-lovers, the gardens contain a replica of part of the garden at Mount Vernon, George Washington's Virginia home, and a North American arboretum.
The café serves light lunches and a wide selection of home-made cookies. That great American Italian dish of pizza and salad will cost you £2, while Connecticut Snickerdoodle are 70p each.
The museum shops sell a range of Americana, and a large selection of books about all aspects of American life. An authentic Native American dreamcatcher will cost you £10.25 and wooden Shaker boxes start at £12.
Admission and access
Re-enactment days are busy, but usually it's easy to get in.
The museum is open 12pm-5.50pm daily, except for Mondays, until 31 October.
Admission: Main collection and grounds costs adults £6.50, children aged 5-16 years £3.50. Grounds and temporary exhibitions cost adults £4, children aged 5-16 years £2.50.
Disabled access: There is full wheelchair access to the ground floor of the main collection and to the modern temporary exhibition gallery, but the first floor of Claverton Manor is inaccessible, which means that people with disabilities will miss the collection of quilts and Native American objects.
How to get there
By car: The museum is on the south-east corner of Bath and is well signed from the city centre and the A36 Bath-Warminster road. There is plenty of parking at the museum itself.
By public transport: National Express (08705 808080; www.nationalexpress.com) serves Bath. The mainline railway station is very close to the central bus station, from where you take the No 18 (University) bus, which drops you to within 500 yards of the Museum. Don't walk from the centre unless you like steep hills - but if you do go by foot, follow the brown and white tourist signs marked "American Museum". The American Museum, Claverton Manor, Bath BA2 7BD (01225 460503; www.americanmuseum.org).
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