If messing about in boats is your favourite pastime, you’re a sports fan, admire the likes of Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, love fish or if Kenneth Graeme’s classic ‘Wind in the Willows’ is a favourite with your kids (or you), a day at the Henley River and Rowing Museum is a must.
The Museum celebrates three themes: the past, present and future of the River Thames, the historic riverside community of Henley-on-Thames and the international sport of rowing. Since it opened to the public in August 1998, the Museum has received numerous awards for its design and architecture, including the National Heritage/NPI Museum of the Year award.
A high point for younger children is the magnificent ‘Wind in the Willows’ Exhibition.
E.H. Shepard's famous illustrations are brought to life via 3-D models depicting the adventures of Mr Toad, Ratty and their friends. In fact the Museum has been granted exclusive rights to use the original images by Shepard, who explored the meadows and willow- fringed river around Pangbourne in search of settings for these classic illustrations.
The exhibition faithfully follows the original story-line, using theatrical lighting and sound techniques to transport visitors on a journey through the whimsical world of The Wind in the Willows. As they make their way through the exhibition, interactive exhibits and specially developed audio-guides will help the visitors, whether young or older, really feel a part of the story…. whether joining Ratty and Mole's picnic on the riverbank, getting lost in the Wild Wood or evicting the weasels from Toad Hall.
In other parts of the museum you can find out about how much water we use each day compared with other parts of the world with hands-on exhibits.
Then you can relive Great Britain’s Olympic rowing successes with audio visual presentations, and exhibits of some of the actual craft that carried the medal winning teams, and learn more about the Thames’ rowing history including the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and commercial use of the river.
The museum is also committed to promoting the arts and has regularly changing art exhibitions as well as commissioning river and rowing related artworks. There is also a programme of creative activities for children held during the school holidays. The museum has a café, is both wheelchair and pushchair friendly and has baby changing facilities. It is situated right next to the river, with a lovely park for children to play in, so it would really make a great day out for all the family.
For more information on admission, opening times and upcoming events visit their website at www.rrm.co.uk.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.