Carlisle is steeped in history and in the heart of this Border City is where Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery can be found. Sitting directly opposite Carlisle Castle this award-winning visitor attraction is the perfect day out for the whole family. Having been named large visitor attraction of the year by the Cumbria Tourist Awards in 2017 as well as having the accolade of being winners of the Telegraph’s kids in museums family friendly museum award we had high expectations before we visited, and we weren’t disappointed.
There are two main sections within Tullie house each housing various permanent and visiting exhibitions. Old Tullie House is a Grade 1 listed Jacobean building set within their beautifully maintained gardens which houses a large and display a large number of paintings and ceramics from the Pre-Raphelite and arts and crafts era. Inside the newer part of the building are exhibitions about Carlisle and Cumbrian history, Railways, Vikings, The Reivers, Wildlife in the Eden valley and of course the Romans. There is also a gallery where visiting exhibitions are displayed.
History can be a bit ‘boring’ for kids however Tullie House have pitched everything so well to engage them in learning. At the entrance there are several trail sheets that children can use to navigate the museum finding clues and learning along the way. There are loads of fun, interactive displays, games and puzzles around the museum as well as plenty of opportunities for role play and dressing up. During Cumbrian school holiday’s the museum also run drop-in sessions which include arts and crafts amongst other things.
Leo really enjoyed the Roman exhibition where he dressed up and ‘hid’ in the tent camping out! He also got the opportunity to try his hand at building a wall using the same method they used to build Hadrian’s wall – show me a kid who doesn’t like building, it’s a winner for sure!
Other highlights include the life-sized section of Hadrian’s wall which you can climb up onto and peek at your opponents below, the stocks you can sit in and try out and the sword in the stone which is only released when entering the correct answer to the question! I think Leo’s favourite thing to do on our visit though was to walk through the mock badger sett in the wildlife area. Just tall enough for a child to navigate and with spy holes along the way to see the badgers inside he just loved it – not sure my back did when he insisted I have ago too!
Don’t be fooled into thinking Tullie House is just for families and children though there is so much for everyone to learn – in fact I would have quite liked the opportunity to read and absorb some more of the information, but Leo had other ideas, so I will be returning unaccompanied next time! I highly recommend a visit to the gift shop once you are all worn out as it is filled with wonderful locally crafted items as well as plenty of things for the kids to spend their pocket money on!
Entrance to Tullie House is only £10.00 (correct as of 1/04/18) for adults and all children under 18 are free which is a bargain in itself, however your entrance ticket is an annual pass meaning you can visit as many times as you like within a 12-month period!!! Being an annual ticket holder gives you access to all of the exhibitions and displays within the museum as well as free access to any of the drop-in sessions they operate.
To find out more about Tullie House and the current exhibitions visit their website.
Tullie House, Castle Street, Carlisle, Cumbria CA3 8TP
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