Local history museum with a difference – expect vast artefact stores and amazing working exhibits
If I had to describe the M Shed in two words, those words would be steam crane. Yes, this former transit shed has a diverting museum dedicated to the city, but the biggest objects in the museum’s collection are also the best – the steam and electric cranes, engines and historic boats that line the river outside.
Where else can you ride the exhibits? On certain days, volunteers open the cranes to visitors, the boats to passengers, and fire up the steam engines to pull delighted people up and down the Dockside Railway.
Inside, the permanent exhibits offer an overview of Bristol’s people, places and daily life, through a mishmash of artefacts, objects, films and testimonials. You’ll find models from Wallace & Gromit among the art and social history displays; there’s a section dedicated to the city’s part in the slave trade, as well as events that shaped Bristol’s history, including the 1831 and 1980 riots.
There’s plenty to keep children and adults alike occupied here, but real voyeurs won’t be able to resist going behind the scenes: tours of the museum’s vast collection stores, led by volunteers with encyclopaedic knowledge, run five times a week for the princely sum of a £2 suggested donation.
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