Torquay Museum, Torquay, Devon….warm and friendly and informative…like an old friend.
Torquay Museum is a small local museum situated not far from the harbour area. It was built in 1874, so the building itself is interesting.
Enter through the double doors and you find the shop/reception and a sunny cafe on the left.
On the top floor is the Explorers and Egyptomania room, a huge room with all sorts of fascinating items from all over the world enclosed in glass cases. At the foot of each case are plastic covered notes describing the items in the cases which I found informative.
Some things catch your eye more than others. Here a model of an opium den, some 150 years old. The British imported opium from India to China causing social problems with addiction which resulted in the Opium Wars.
In the centre of this large room is the Egyptian Room. It holds the mummy of a little boy, Psamtek, who was between two to four years old when he died at around 713 BC/332 BC.
Wrapped in linen cloth and tied with a tubular bead net the mummy of Psamtek lies in a coffin and is covered with turquoise amulets to protect him in the afterlife.
Further along there are exhibitions and videos playing describing the exploits of explorers connected with Torquay….Percy Harrison Fawcett being one of them and perhaps the inspiration for Indiana Jones. He was born in Torquay in 1867 and educated in Newton Abbot. He travelled extensively and disappeared while in the rainforests of Brazil in 1925.
This slab of stone is full of fossil corals found in Newton Abbot. It was placed between the two main rooms on the third floor. I loved that the sign said to ‘touch it’.
On the same floor as the above exhibition is the Old Devon Farmhouse. A reconstruction of a farmhouse from 1860 in the form of rooms fitted with furniture from the 19th century complete with thatched roofs.
The kitchen looks cosy and is full of cooking items. A large seat is set beside the fire and the table is laid for tea. China, ornaments, brass and copper items from the museum collection have been laid out to show what a farmhouse of that period would have looked like
A gallery devoted to Agatha Christie, author, is on the floor leading to the second floor. It is filled with Art Deco furniture and clothes worn by Poirot and Miss Marple in TV and film productions of Agatha Christies many books.
A small gallery, the Ancestors Gallery, is next. In it are various animal and human bones from thousands of years ago.
This paving slab found at the Chamber Tomb, Broadsands in Paignton has in it human femur bones six thousand years old.
The Time Ark and Kents Cavern is on the first floor. Here can be seen fossils, and animal bones of bear, hyaena, rhinoceros found at Kents Cavern in Torquay. Kents Cavern itself is a fascinating cave where both our ancestors and animals sheltered and left behind evidence of their existence.
There are also scenes from the present day including wildlife….birds, animals and plants.
Also on this floor a bust of Charles Darwin stands in front of the stairs.
An exhibition in the Perigal room is of Britains First Humans, set up with the help of London’s Natural History Museum, shows the discovery of a human lower jawbone from Kents Cavern which is the oldest in Britain, possibly in Europe and the Boxgrove leg bone.
The jawbone is so special that it has to be accompanied on any journey. Sadly this exhibition ends on the 12th December.
I was also shown and allowed to handle this stone axe, tens of thousands of years old. Having a vivid imagination I was able to transport myself back to the time of the man who made it. It gave me the shivers. Quite incredible.