I’ve been meaning to take the kids to an open day at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society for some time and now I know what a little gem this place is.
We were warmly greeted inside the beautiful Victorian building and informed where each of the rooms were and what we would find. As soon as I heard there was an Egyptian mummy upstairs I told the kids we’d start there and work our way down. Each room had a friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic member of staff, so we looked around the Egyptian Collection and listened intently to the gentleman who told us all about the hieroglyphics we were looking at. You can’t miss the 25th Dynasty mummy in her painted wooden coffin which dominates the room and as I sat down to tell my son a little about it my daughter asked about a hundred times where the mummy was. Bless her, I couldn’t get her to understand that she was looking at it.
Back downstairs in the main hall we saw lots of displays and then we went downstairs again to a room which had crafts and a gentlemen who had a couple of microscopes set up. My son spent ages looking at lots of different things and when I went to have a peek I saw he was up close with some very teeny worms in a dish. My daughter had great fun making robin’s to go on Christmas thank you cards and one of the nice ladies in the room even gave the kiddies a little face painting before we left.
I was pleased to find a table with teas and coffees and we sat down to enjoy a cuppa, squash and mince pie. The Ornithology collection which surrounded us had over 300 mounted and stuffed birds plus huge eggs and bird skulls. I won’t lie, it’s a little eerie but we all enjoyed looking at the collection of butterflies and moths. Before we left the room I wanted to have a quick look at the live insects but the gentlemen and his little friends were so interesting that I ended up pulling up a chair. He showed us the big hairy spiders, most of which are not suitable for handling but the brave Nanny next to me was happy to volunteer herself when asked if anyone wanted to hold the friendly one. We also saw some very cool bugs and stick insects with my favourite one that looked like a dancing leaf.
My son has a big interest in fossils and gems and before we went to the relevant room we spotted some being sold and he spent ages choosing a large mineral (don’t ask me the name of it) while I chose an ammonite and my daughter chose a little bag of shiny shells. All were mostly £2 and under so it was a treat I didn’t mind getting. Our last room to visit was the one he wanted to see the most and definitely the one we spent the longest amount of time in. It was full of gems, minerals, fossils, huge Woolly Mammouth teeth and even Dinosaur footprints!
By now, it was mid afternoon and my 2 year old daughter was showing signs of extreme tiredness and so we said goodbye and promised to be back again on another open day.
I can’t recommend this Museum enough. Every single member of staff loved to share their knowledge and they encouraged questions from visitors big and small. My son asked so many while we were there and each time his question was answered with enthusiasm and patience.
The museum is open to the public a few times in the year but there is also the Young Explorers group which is held on every 2nd Saturday of the month. The session is for children aged 7 to 12 and the 2019 programme of events includes rocks and fossils, biodiversity, pond dipping and microscopes, live insects and skeletons. I know my son will be eager to join when he’s old enough.
Facilities for families include toilets and a small car park plus there’s a beautiful garden which I’m told is wonderful to run around in when it’s warmer. Full details of the Museum including upcoming events can be found on the website: http://bnss.org.uk/