On a recent visit to Stoke, we had a few hours spare on our last morning and decided to visit the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery that was literally a stone’s throw from our hotel. With free admission, it was the perfect place to learn a little bit more about the area.
What is the Potteries Museum and Arts Gallery?
Comprising of three floors, we decided to make our way up to the first floor and work our way down to the lower ground. The top floor consists of the art gallery, ceramics gallery, design gallery and the temporary exhibits gallery.
As we were at the museum for opening time on a Sunday, it was really quiet and we found that we had the entire gallery to ourselves. This allowed us to really take our time and go at our own pace.
The children were drawn to the more colourful pieces in the art gallery, which includes works from key artistic movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a lot of the local history covered in urban and industrial painting.
We moved on to the design gallery and took in some of the lovely textiles and costume from the past along with more contemporary designs.
The ceramics gallery is home to over 5,000 pieces that explain the history of manufacture and design in the pottery industry. The vast collection is also home to more eclectic collections, such as the Keiller collection of 667 cow creamer jugs and the Marjorie Davies collection of nearly 300 frog mugs!
Temporary Exhibitions at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
The temporary exhibition gallery has been home to many exhibits over the years, from themes such as The 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings, The Art of Super Heroes and Villains and currently it’s home to Majolica Mania: Transatlantic Pottery in England and the United States, 1850–1915. This carries a small extra cost to enter.
Once finished upstairs, we made our way back to the ground floor galleries which are home to the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia collection, Our Secret Garden, Natural Science, Archaeology and Local History.
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is the main home for archaeological finds from around Staffordshire and includes artefacts which date from the prehistoric period right up to post-medieval ceramics, with many from the sites of former local potteries. This includes the Staffordshire Hoard.
The Natural Science Gallery introduces the natural landscapes and environments around The Potteries. The gallery gives you a taste of the animals and plants that live nearby, their past habitats and how they are adapting to the modern world. We also got to explore how the rocks laid down over millions of years have shaped the modern Staffordshire landscape and preserved evidence of ancient life.
The lower ground floor currently houses Commonwealth Connections, a weird and wonderful space showcasing items from throughout the Commonwealth to celebrate the games that took place in nearby Birmingham in the summer of 2022.
A reasonably priced cafe serving light bites and full meals can also be found on the lower ground floor with homemade cakes on offer too. This leads up to a very impressive exhibition in a newly created glass space – The Spitfire Gallery.
The Spitfire Gallery
The Spitfire Gallery is home to an actual Spitfire, Spitfire RW388. It was donated to the City of Stoke-on-Trent in 1972. Reginald J. Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire was raised in north Staffordshire, becoming one of the greatest aeronautical engineers of his generation. We were able to get up close to the RW388, an LF Mark XVIE produced in 1944.
We also got to see Merlin engines up close, and even inside them at the cylinder banks thanks to cutaway sections. The impressive armaments were also on show along with a video wall of local wartime survivors telling their stories about living in Stoke during the war.
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is a great place to flesh out the history of Stoke and with free entry, it makes for a bargain morning out with nice tea and cake on offer too.
You can find out more about The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery over on their website and for reference the address is: Bethesda Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 3DW
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