The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted that I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I was away on holiday in Yorkshire last week. So this week I wanted to tell you all about my trip to York and share some photos of a fantastic exhibition that I went to. It was in York Castle Museum and I was temped to visit the exhibition after spotting a rather eye-catching image online last month.Remember Kim Kardashian’s infamous champagne bottle photo that ‘broke the internet’ recently? Well, the York Castle Museum has recreated that image to coincide with their Shaping the Body exhibition, which launched on 25th March this year. Pretty cool, huh? It just goes to show that displaying a rounded rump has been a fashion staple for centuries! I was expecting a very corsetry-focussed, undergarment-based exhibition for adults but, in fact, the Shaping the Body exhibit was also about outer-garments throughout the years, clothing trends and construction methods. As I wandered through the halls, two further parts of the exhibition were revealed to me; learning about how food and lifestyle shapes the body too. These sections included kitchen scenes of the past century (including a very 80s-looking kitchen that I swear could have been my own childhood home at some point!) and the foods that we eat, plus an exhibit on professions and how work has shaped people over the years too. Very interesting indeed.
Shaping the Body a new permanent exhibition, so don’t worry about missing it over the Easter Holidays. You can visit it any time this year, and it’s great entertainment for the children during half term or the summer holidays. Not only will they enjoy dressing up in period costume and strutting down the catwalk, but they’ll also be enthralled by the neighbouring toy collection in the museum.
The toy collection is well worth a look and it’s one of my favourite parts of the museum. I loved spotting the toys I had as a child and getting the chance to play with a retro ‘pong’ computer game after all these years was great fun. I especially liked the 50s living room scene, which looked like a child’s birthday party in progress with recently unwrapped toys and a party tea set up on the table. It made me feel all warm and nostalgic because it’s how I remember birthday parties being as a child (although I wasn’t alive in the50s of course!), with paper streamers decorating the walls and a chocolate swiss roll being the highlight of the day. Just lovely.
And finally, we visited the Victorian street exhibit. This was a complete surprise for me as I had no idea it was part of York Castle Museum. I’m sure many of you will have already heard of, or even visited, this famous installation, but I was completely oblivious to its existence until I was standing in it. Boy was that an amazing moment for me! I felt like Dr Who’s assistant, being instantly – and believably – transported back in time. After spending what felt like hours window shopping, popping into school rooms and peering into houses, I concluded that I would be very happy living in the Victorian era. I was especially impressed with the lighting and sound effects: I was walking the streets during the dawn chorus as day began to break and, at one point, I came out of the toy shop to find that I was in the middle of a night-time thunderstorm complete with lightening, flickering candles and howling dogs. I loved every minute!
A trip to York Castle Museum is highly recommended and is definitely an enjoyable day out for all ages. We didn’t bring children with us to the museum but I imagine that they would get a lot out of the visit too; there are plenty of activities to get involved with throughout the exhibition and the exhibits are very educational. The café is reasonably priced with 10% off food and gift shop purchases with a York Museums Trust card, which is well-worth buying if you visit York more than once as it also provides free admission to York Art Gallery and the Yorkshire Museum for a year – I’ll definitely be going back again this summer!