When your two year old is treated as a guest of honour from the moment she steps through the door you know you’ve come to a place you’re going to want to return to.
And when the event even includes its welcome drinks in the theme of the evening then you know you’ll have good reason to return too.
Attending the launch of the National Civil War Centre’s summer fun programme Ingenious Inventions in Newark, Willow was entranced from the start as she was able to choose the colour of her drink, watching as the clear liquid became pink as it poured.
Whilst the historical centre’s exhibits obviously focus on the conflict of the period, it was also a time of great innovation and its summer programme is focusing on the “weird and wonderful stories” that 17th century science provided.
A painting activity in the courtyard inspired by Christiaan Huygens’s pendulum clock was next on Willow’s itinerary (and returned to several times throughout the evening), followed by a crafting session based on the discoveries Antonie van Leeuwenhoek made through his microscope in 1676.
She then joined a class from a local school for a talk by Prince Rupert himself – the inventor of a torpedo, a diving bell and exploding teardrops as well as a seasoned fighter and a dab hand on the tennis court. The pupils’ infectious enthusiasm and focused exuberance was a credit to their school as well as to the presentation which also held Willow’s attention.
Telescopes, pump activated rockets, an inflatable flea and the arrival of her brother and daddy meaning she could go through it all again meant I very nearly didn’t get to see any of the main part of the centre which currently includes the temporary exhibition Shifting Sands: Lawrence of Arabia and the Great Arab Revolt and there’s still a whole floor I haven’t set foot on yet.
So, along with any young historian or science enthusiast visiting for the first time, we know we’ll still have a lot to enjoy next time we’re in the Nottinghamshire town’s museum. And we know we’ll have particularly lovely guides to aid our discoveries too.
The schedule of summer fun will run from July 29th to September 3rd. Either Mad Madge or Prince Rupert of the Rhine will be performing daily from Monday to Saturday. Every Monday will be a Messy Monday with pendulum painting.
Aug 1-6 and Sept 2-6: Terrific Telescopes – Make your own heavenly creations and imagine the 17th Century stars with build your own telescope sessions.
Aug 8-13: Ticking Technology – Put history in your pocket and make a mini watch to carry in your Restoration waistcoat.
Aug 15-21: Microscopic Monsters – Learn what 17th Century scientists saw when they first looked through a microscope and make some friendly bacteria to take home.
Aug 22-28: A Right Royal Rocket – Investigate the work of a 17th Century scientist and launch your own rocket.
Aug 29-Sept 1: Crafty Calculations – Did you know that the first calculator was invented in the seventeenth century? Learn about Pascal’s adding machine and make some crafty calculations of your own.
The centre is offering 20% off admission for families this summer. Valid from July 29th to September 3rd, it applies to any size group with at least one paying child. Children under 5 enter for free. Visit www.nationalcivilwarcentre.com for further information.