Ten things to see in Ipswich Museum

POSTED ON: 25/01/2017

Ten things to see in Ipswich Museum Wool.i.am the Mammoth
It would be rude not to start with the Mammoth, as it is in the entrance, and is enormous. To the left though there is a case holding a skull retrieved from the North Sea, east of Lowestoft and some of the remains of the Maidenhall Mammoth found in Ipswich during the 1970s. The infamous Rosie the Rhino is also in this room, with her fake tusk, and many other mounted animals including a very impressive giraffe in a 100-year-old glass case.

Suffolk & Ipswich in the wars
This exhibition is tucked away to the left of the main animal room, but it is an absolute gem. I am partial to some 1930s décor so I loved the sample rooms but the information on Ipswich’s involvement and the impact of bombings was really interesting. I think I could spend a whole morning in this part and still not have read everything. Two large wall hangings caught my eye, this panel is from one of them. They were embroidered by the wives and relatives of the Ipswich Prisoners of war in Japanese hands after the fall of Singapore.

The Anglo-Saxon pottery
Ipswich became the first and foremost centre of wheel thrown pottery production for the entire East of England in the 7th century. The collection, as well as a chance to dress up or practice your weaving skills, is set aside in a designated room off the ground floor.

The Wickham Market hoard
You can’t miss this display as it glitters in a corner. A large amount of gold coins were buried near Wickham Market by Iceni people between 20BC and AD20 but were only found by metal detectorists in 2008. The coins are owned by Ipswich Museum so are on permanent display.

Elephant and whale skulls
Still on the ground floor is a large room, full of fossils, bones and stones. We were particularly taken by the Indian elephant skull, the human skeletons as well as the incredibly large shell and that was before we looked up and saw the whale skull hanging over our heads. An incredible resource for any budding biologist.

The stuffed bird collection
On the first floor there is a room full of birds – from gulls to owls, ducks to eagles. Taxidermy isn’t to everyone’s taste, and Ipswich Museum certainly has plenty of examples, but there was no other way to classify and record species when people started collecting (according to the signs, some of the specimens were shot specifically to be mounted, but some were also natural casualties donated to the collectors).

Lady Ta-Hathor
Every time we visit the museum, my daughter cannot wait to take me in to see The Mummy. Lady Ta-Hathor is estimated to be 2,500 years old and was brought to Colchester in 1871. Personally, I find the fake body buried in the floor quite impressive too. The Ancient Egypt area is very educational and I have often sat on the provided bench whilst my daughter writes her name in hieroglyphs, plays the games and looks at all the exhibits.

The Ipswich Story
Situated all along the mezzanine floor is The Ipswich story – from the Stone Age to Portman Road! Again, there is so much information that you could spend a long time reading and browsing this area alone. I enjoyed the sections on how multi-cultural Ipswich has always been, as well as finding out the Charles Dickens stayed in Ipswich and used the town as a setting for scenes in The Pickwick Papers. My eyes were drawn to these floral brocade shoes, dated 1740.

The African Collection
Sir Charles Partridge was a District Officer in Nigeria in the early 1900s, it is said that he became interested in the culture and families of members of his staff and started collecting the 200 items on display here. Within this section are representations of other cultures; I particularly liked the hand painted floor tiles on the wall but I found the Burmese Shrine, removed from a temple in Mandalay, very beautiful.

The shop
I was impressed with the shop. Firstly, you don’t have to walk through it - so you can make a sharp exit if you don’t want to succumb to Pester Power - but it is worth a look. I spent a bit of money on postcards, books and my daughter spent her pocket money on a painted piece of papyrus and some polished stones. I will be returning to do some more shopping, particularly with the current Wildlife Photographer of the Year merchandise in store!

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