First off, the ‘Experience TV’ Gallery, where Will and Ellie became news presenters in a replica TV studio; before moving to the mock living room set to operate the cameras whilst directing an ‘actor’ (dad) in and out of a door and on and off a leather sofa! The kids’ favourite thing though was experimenting with chroma keying, the special effects technique used in TV for layering two images together. Here, you choose between footage of Bollywood Dancing, Dinosaurs on the Rampage or Hover-crafting between Skyscrapers, then perform in front of a blue screen, and watch yourself integrated within your chosen footage, transplanted into a new world. It is a brilliant laugh!
Dragging ourselves away from chroma keying was nearly impossible, but the Magic Factory beckoned. This is a large interactive space, offering the chance to experiment and have fun with light and sound: Camera Obscura, Periscopes and Funny Mirrors amongst lots of other things. Will loved Dot Dot Dash, where he learned some Morse Code and sent his message out of the museum window, and up into Space.
Models of the Wombles, Morph, Wallace and Gromit were on display in the Animation Gallery, where the children were able to have a go at some stop motion animation themselves. We also marvelled at the first camera that made film possible, were intrigued by Thaumatropes & Zoetropes, viewed clips of influential moments in TV history and took a trip down memory lane when the robots from the 1980’s Smash adverts revealed themselves in one glass cabinet!
The Games Lounge is hilarious for the grown-ups and inevitably compulsive for the kids; looking back at arcade games from yesteryear, with the opportunity to have a go on many of the old favourites. Remember Donkey Kong? Space Invaders? Pac Man? That ridiculous 70’s tennis game, Pong (!!) with the very annoying ‘Bip’ noise. All in here! Go armed with 20p’s to play on some.
We concluded our day with a late lunch at the fantastic café. I had a delicious wood-fired pizza (it was huge, you could easily share it between two). The kids had sandwich lunch boxes and my partner had a salad he said was excellent. I really recommend you make the trip to this museum. Given more time, we could have scheduled in a visit to the on-site IMAX cinema, and there are plenty of special exhibitions on throughout the year too. Loads to get stuck into – I look forward to a return visit very soon.
Daily 10am-6pm. Cinema, bar and café open till late. Car parks nearby. Admission free but charges for cinema.
National Media Museum, Bradford BD1 1NQ
Tel: 0844 856 3797 nationalmediamuseum.org.uk