Five Amazing Museum Day Trips
Since 1963, the Fashion Museum in Bath has awarded a forward-facing frock the title ‘Dress of the Year’. See the most recent winner (a Dior ensemble featuring the slogan: ‘We Should All Be Feminists’) along with clothes dating back to the 1600s. Small but perfectly formed, this museum takes getting dressed seriously.
While you’re in town: The best museum in Bath is the city itself. Hold your own toga party at the Roman Baths, or live out your Colin Firth wet shirt dreams on the Royal Crescent and other Georgian landmarks.
How far? 1 hr 30 mins from Paddington.
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been a little warm in London recently. Cool off with a visit to the Polar Museum, your one-stop museum shop for all things arctic. Run by the Scott Polar Research Institute, this enjoyably niche museum combines a permanent collection with an impressive array of temporary shows on everything from Shackleton to icy watercolours.
While you’re in town: The grande dame of Cambridge museums is the Fitzwilliam, but this famous university town is littered with other ones including museums of zoology, archeology and anthropology, earth sciences, history of science… you name it, there’s probably a Cambridge museum dedicated to it.
How far? 50 mins from King’s Cross.
Yes, shrunken heads. But a lot of other stuff too. Over half a million objects, in fact, and they come from all over the globe. But along with learning about everything from boat-building to weaving jewellery, the Pitt Rivers is also worth visiting for the building. Gaze directly up at its soaring Victorian ceilings and you might feel like you’ve shrunk too.
While you’re in town: For art lovers, The Ashmolean easily earns points on the cultural scorecard. Alternately, get some fresh air (and an ice cream) and lose a few hours in the university’s earthly paradise of the Botanic Gardens.
How far? 1 hr from Paddington.
Although there are many problems with Britain’s navy – the role it played in the brutality of colonialism, for example– one thing you can say is that it had some really cool ships. Come visit them – and there are a lot of them, including HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and HMS Alliance – at the Historic Dockyard, alongside numerous exhibitions on the history of Britain on the sea. That’s a lot of naval-gazing.
While you’re in town: Climb up the Emirates Spinnaker Tower to see across the channel and check if the French are about to invade.
How far? 1 hour 34 mins from Waterloo.
Canterbury’s not always been Canterbury. Once upon a Roman time, it was called Durovernum Cantiacorum. Quite the mouthful. And you can get a proper eyeful of the town’s Roman history in this perfectly packed little museum, filled with mosaics, weapons and silverware.
While you’re in town: See the gorgeous gothic-era cathedral.
How far? 56 mins from King’s Cross.