One of Falmouth’s main visitor attractions is to reopen in time for the summer holidays.
Schools break up next Thursday, July 23, and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall has announced it will be opening its doors again the following Monday, July 27.
It comes after the recent Government announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions for cultural spaces.
The reopening of the museum will be the first chance to see its major new exhibition Monsters of the Deep: Science Fact and Fiction, which explores the different stories, beliefs and mythologies around deep-sea monsters.
This as due to open in March before the closure of the museum.
To ensure the safety and wellbeing of all visitors and staff, the museum has also implemented a number of new health and safety measures, in line with the latest government advice. These include:
• Timed arrival slots and reduced visitor capacity.
• Social distancing measures including one-way systems, floor markers in all queuing areas and rearranged café seating.
• Strict cleaning regimes in all areas of the museum with additional cleaning staff.
Richard Doughty, director of National Maritime Museum Cornwall, said: “Just like any other museum across the country the last few months have been some of toughest in our history, and our future, as we emerge into this new landscape, remains unknown.
“However, we open our doors on Monday, July 27 with renewed determination and full hearts – we can’t wait to see visitors again and we’re particularly looking forward to sharing Monsters of the Deep, our most ambitious exhibition ever.
“Throughout the last few months Monsters of the Deep has been in hibernation and not a soul outside the organisation has seen it – now is the time to awaken the beast!”
On display at the museum from July 27 until January 3, the new Monsters of the Deep exhibition takes visitors on an immersive tour through the world of deep-sea monsters, both real and imagined.
From medieval folklore, to the cryptozoologists and monster-hunters of the 20th century, the exhibition examines the enduring fascination with the creatures that live in the depths of the ocean, bringing together rarely seen specimens, artefacts and artworks from world class collections, including Royal Museums Greenwich, the British Museum, the Science Museum, the National Oceanography Centre and Cambridge University Library.
Starting with the monstrous creatures that haunted the imaginations of people in medieval Europe, the exhibition examines what people of the past really believed about the ocean.
A large-scale reproduction of the Carta Marina, the world’s most famous medieval map of the sea, showcases illustrations of sea monsters including the strange ‘mirror creatures’ – sea goats, sea cows and sea horses – that were thought to inhabit the oceans at the time.
Also on display will be the Hortus sanitatis, the world’s first natural history encyclopaedia. Printed in 1491, it represents a significant moment in the birth of scientific history, a time when unicorns and mermaids were considered alongside elephants and giraffes as marvellous wonders of the world.
The exhibition has been created in collaboration with a variety of specialist and guest curators, including Viktor Wynd, who has created the ‘UnNatural History Museum.’ This section will bring together fascinating, and sometimes disturbing specimens such as a giant rearing “unicorn” skeleton and a mummified feegee mermaid to explore ideas of what is real and what is fake.
Against an analysis of ‘monster’ sightings, fake news and conspiracy theories, the exhibition will also explore the impact of sea monsters in cinema and popular culture, as well as the wider history of deep sea exploration, from early attempts through to the voyages of the HMS Challenger and state-of-the-art underwater scientific exploration.
The exhibition will include a section co-curated with the UK’s pioneering National Oceanography Centre, which explores the true depths of our oceans and the real-life sea monsters which lurk beneath.