Into the Realms of Discovery – Birmingham, England

With dark skies, high winds and a weather forecast that predicted large quantities of rain I realised that my small companions plan for the day would have to be cancelled and that I needed a quick solution if I was to avoid hearing huge sighs for the rest of the week.

Woolly says – I thought she had seriously lost her marbles at her mention of a visit to a tank especially once she had informed me that this wasn’t going to be a military type vehicle, which led me to the conclusion that water might be involved and as everyone knows I have allergies to the nasty wet stuff, I sighed and set about reading up on our destination whilst Jo prepared my snacks and supplies for the day.  Birmingham Science Museum (known simply as Thinktank) is a science museum in Birmingham, England. Opened in 2001, it is part of Birmingham Museums Trust and is located within the Millennium Point complex in the Digbeth area of the city. The collection had started in the mid 19th century, initially consisting of collections of weapons from the gun trade and the Birmingham Proof House, until it’s move to Newhall Street in 1951 and then to its current location.  With a website promising lots of interactive displays and buttons to push I had to wonder why my carer had been so remiss in not taking me previously.

Having never visited the new site I was a veteran of the old museum in Newhall Street having spent many wet Sundays there with my Father as a child admiring the wonderful locomotive, the Pride of Birmingham, and being enthralled with the collection of steam operated machinery.  Our reasons for never having visited was simply that Zoe had and didn’t want to go again.

Woolly says – With Zoe at work it was ideal and would mean that rather than freezing outside we could stay warm and see lots of things.  Navigation is never Jo’s strong point and it seemed to take far longer than necessary to find the museum and then locate parking by which time I had already missed two snack breaks!  Eager to start our mission of discovery I quickly consumed enough biscuits to help me survive before scurrying after the woman and into the delights of science and technology.  It was crowded with children racing round and adults following them, we stood patiently waiting to get closer to the exhibit on recycling and what could be reused in the efforts to save the planet.  Having finally managed to push some buttons I was at a loss to understand what the button enabled the display to do, issuing a small sigh I trotted into the section dedicated to natural history where skeletons of ancient creatures were laid out alongside stuffed bison, penguins and foxes.  It was interesting and just as I though we had finished the area I found myself standing in front of a triceratops skull that had been discovered in America in 1908, they must have been immense creatures as the skull was nearly as big as Jo. 

Quite a large fellow

Not a fan of stuffed animals I was happy to enter the section dedicated to how the body works, my small friend was in his element.

Woolly says – having inspected how the heart works I happily pressed every button in sight to make the lungs light up, the digestive system flow and the rather large eye blink, it was a delight in how technology can help you learn.  Moving through the section on medical matters I sat inspecting a stand dedicated to hip replacements before checking out how DNA can help in finding disease and helping to treat people, fascinating.  Bouncing down the stairs we entered a section entitled The factory which allowed us to delve into Birmingham’s’ manufacturing industry with interactive displays on the spitfire plane, how cars had been constructed in the city and the wonderful glass that had been produced in the nearby town of Stourbridge, some of which had been produced at the Red Cone that we had visited a few moths ago ( ). 

With my snacks now a distant memory we arrived at the onsite café just as my tummy let out a large rumble, Jo peered down at me and hastily picked up a tray to load up my lunch.  The smell of oil and coke were in the air as I sat eating right next to the lovely steam train that Jo had barely stopped talking about.  Having consented to a wipe down I was eager to investigate more and set off to look at the inside workings of the loco before admiring the Birmingham Corporation tram that had once run through the city’s streets. 

Above my head I was able to check out the underside of the spitfire as well as taking in some wonderful cars, bikes and motorcycles that were displayed at some very odd angles.  I paused in front of a large glass domed structure which had once provided the light for thousands of ships as part of a light house before moving towards the wonderful steam driven machines that were magnificent in both size and design, each one was whizzing round and it made a fine display.

Having consulted the map we had been given at the ticket desk it appeared that we had actually missed a floor, having informed the mammoth we set off to the top of the building to see what was still on offer. 

Woolly says – Talk about leaving the best until last, the top floor provided us with a chance to glimpse into the future of robotics with lots of interactive displays to try out, I was immediately drawn to the life sized Robo Thespian who could be programmed to chance his eye colours, to speak, sing and generally engage with the audience around him. 

What a guy

I could have spent hours getting him to do tricks and entertain us, Jo however pointed out that there was rather a long line of people also waiting to try out the wonderful bot and pointed me towards the mini replica of the mars rover.  With nothing else to see inside I braced myself for the elements and headed outside to the science garden.  With a human pulley and lots of displays that included the hated water we tried our paws on most things before accepting that the weather was really starting to turn and that drips from the sky where now hitting my head.  Climbing back into the car I felt pleased with our day and nearly went as far as to congratulate Jo on a great find but reconsidered as I don’t want her getting to many thoughts on planning trips out!