Summer of  Fun at the American Museum in Britain

June 26, 2015 - Nicky Hancock

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For a great day out with the family this summer, the American Museum in Britain, Bath, will delight and excite children with hands-on exhibits, a packed programme of family friendly events and workshops, and extensive grounds for children to explore. The Museum offers fun for all ages, from grandparents to toddlers, as well as a cultural insight into everyday life for the Native American Indians. This July there will also be an opportunity to meet some very special visitors, a group of Native Americans.

There is plenty to keep young visitors engaged with interactive displays in the American Heritage Exhibition, which features lift-the-flap boxes containing objects of curiosity such as witch balls, an eel spear, a whirligig, and a corn cob dryer. The display reveals the tenacity of early settlers who adapted to a new life in this alien territory and transformed everyday objects into works of art. Touch screens engage children in a dialogue, asking what they would pack in their wagon for a journey to the American West. Dressing up is all part of the fun too; how will you look as a pioneer, a pilgrim, or a cowboy?

Complimentary Museum Explorer Back Packs make the experience of visiting the Museum multi-sensory and exciting. Each one features a different American animal mascot: Baby Bear (4-6 years), Racoon (6-8 years), and Eagle (8-11 years) and contains a trail booklet to guide families through the Period Rooms in the Museum. Each of these rooms tells the story of a different era between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, providing an immersive experience to spark old and young imaginations alike. There are smelly boxes, costume items to try on, quilt puzzles, games to play together, an animal puppet to guide young visitors through the rooms, and a free sticker to collect on completion of the tasks.

Curator Kate Hebert says, “We are the only Museum in the UK where families can come and learn about American history and all its glorious diversity, from the culture of the Native American Peoples to the challenges faced by the early settlers to the African American civil rights movement”.

The Museum is set in a beautiful 1820s manor house with 30 acres of grounds overlooking the Limpley Stoke Valley (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) so there is plenty of space for outdoor adventures. Parents can sit back and enjoy the breath-taking views across the valley from the Terrace and enjoy delicious American cookies and freshly baked cakes from the Museum’s kitchen. Children’s lunch boxes are also available from the Orangery Café. Don’t miss the County Store, bursting with gifts and souvenirs to take home, such as dreamcatchers and guardian angel peg dolls.

As part of the Spirit Hawk Eye: Native American Cultural Season between 16 and 25 July, the Museum will be hosting three Native American guests for a week of cultural  events. These will include story telling with Chumash educator Alan Salazar, A Young Artists Workshop with Comanche artist Nocona Burgess, who explores painting with vibrant colour, and Sarita McGowan, enrolled member of the Iowa Tribe, who performs the Women’s Northern Traditional Buckskin dance. Events will provide an insight into the vibrant contemporary cultures of Native American peoples that lie beyond  Hollywood ‘American Indian’ stereotypes.

The annual War of Independence Camp and Drill Display is always a highlight of the summer (Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 July). His Majesty’s Crown Forces are back with their special blend of military prowess, scruffy recruits, good humour, and one incredibly loud cannon. This year the children can join a drill and discover what it takes to join the regiment. Join the all American celebration for the Independence Day rock ‘n’ roll picnic with classics from the ‘50s and ‘60s; early evening fun for all the family on Friday 3 July.

A series of Young Artists workshops provide the opportunity to work with a professional artist during the summer holidays. For budding fashion designers, Sue Bradley from Bath Spa University offers a crash course in fashion illustration on Tuesday  28 July, including the chance to make your own paper clothes based on your designs. Join Sarah Dicks to find out about theatre set design on Thursday 30 July and make your own pop-up set design box inspired by the Museum’s Period Rooms, or make your own mini story book with illustrator Hannah Carding on Tuesday 18 August. (Young Artists workshops for children age 8+).

American Wilderness Days are planned for 4 and 11 August. Join EcoWild for wilderness adventures in the American Museum’s woodlands. Learn essential survival skills inspired by Native American tribes and early settlers. Carve your own tools, track animals, build shelters, and enjoy the great outdoors. (Age 6+)

A range of drop-in Family Fun sessions throughout the summer are inspired by the 2015 exhibition Hatched, Matched, Dispatched – and Patched!, giving children the chance to make amulet pouches inspired by Navajo traditions, create memory capsules or a 3D memory mobile, and make a celebration hat with the Wiltshire Scrap Store. Young visitors are invited to add a leaf to the “Family Tree” describing a special family memory or milestone. Mimi, aged six wrote, “My name is Mimi, I was named after my Granny”.

For a full list of events and prices for workshops see the museums website, or email

For press images and further information, please contact: Nicky Hancock, Hancock Communications

Tel: 01225 332299

Editor’s notes:-

The American Museum in Britain hosts one of the finest collections of American decorative arts outside of the United States displayed in a series of Period Rooms to illustrate life for early Americans from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. The collection comprises over 200 historic American quilts, exceptional pieces of Shaker furniture, exuberant Folk Art paintings and sculptures, Native American objects, and Renaissance maps of the New World. Visitors may also explore the extensive grounds, including the Arboretum of American trees.  This year’s special exhibitions include Hatched, Matched, Dispatched and Patched! – textiles interwoven with the stories of people’s lives and Spirit Hawk Eye, a series of photographs by Heidi Laughton capturing Native American culture.

Main Season 14 March – 1 November 2015, Tues – Sun, 12noon-5pm, Closed Mondays except during August and Bank Holidays

Admission, Museum, Exhibition and Gardens: Adults £10.00, Over 60’s & students £9.00, Children (5-   16 years) £5.50, Family ticket £27.50

Gardens only: Adults £6.00, Over 60’s & students £5.00, Children (5-16 years) £3.50

Gift Aid and Membership rates available

Tel: 01225 460503 or e-mail