M Shed – First Look

Not THE official first look. My first look at the M Shed, which opened on Friday.

What do I think?

It’s interesting. You should go. It’s free.
I was there for 2.5 hours yesterday (opening weekend – get me, Mr Current) and still feel like I skimmed over half of it. Lots of it I didn’t know about, lots of it I probably still don’t (you don’t memorise a dictionary in a 2 hour sitting). It’s very shiny and stylish.

On the way in, one security guard checked our ticket, another took our ticket. The next said “good afternoon – you alright?”, so my girlfriend and I stopped, ready to hear what he was going to tell us. Nothing. That was the end of the conversation. Mildly awkwardly, we both walked away.

The toilets are quite odd. The doors are about 3 metres tall, as if they’re expecting giants to visit.
The urinals and sinks almost the same height as each other – I nearly embarrassed myself there, I can tell you. As I was washing my hands, another guy (who had come in after me, and was also now washing his hands) asked me if I’d confused the two, and commented he’d nearly gone in the sinks too. So it isn’t just me.

What’s wrong with it?

It is opening weekend, so I can’t be too harsh. A few of the exhibits have numbers on the wall, but not numbers on the individual bits of the exhibit. A few things didn’t seem to be working properly, but again, it is the second day of opening.

There’s a selection of Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) facial expression moulds. That was interesting, but the associated writing that goes with it was in a big glass case, and too small/far away to read.

My main criticism would be some of the exhibits included. Shop merchandise from an old shop, from 1918, is an exhibit. Current shop merchandise from a local business, not so much.

A photo of an animal voted best zoo animal by Bristol Zoo, is less of an exhibit, and more of an advert for the zoo.

There’s a few examples where I feel they’ve just shoved something in a glass case and called it an exhibit, and none more so than the Bristol Life segment. I find it strangely hard to quantify what should and shouldn’t be included here, though.

While a painting by local resident Beryl Cook should definitely be included, an old Nintendo console that belonged to a resident, should be recycled under the WEEE directive. (And to think I took my old TV to the tip. It came from Comet in BRISTOL, and everything.)

What should you see?

There’s too much for me to provide photos of it all really. And it’s not in any order/category where I could say “go and look at x”, so I’ll just give you two unusual highlights (that won’t be in any guidebooks, I doubt).

There’s an interesting use of windows on the ground floor.

My girlfriend liked this a lot.

It’s miniature ships, in between the inside and outside glass panes. Fun.

I think one of the most fun parts of the museum is the ability to write ANYTHING you like on a postcard, and add it to spaces around the exhibits. As you can imagine, this has led to some nice, some touching, and – what with Bristol’s superb sense of humour – some downright bizarre ones. Which caught my eye? I think you know the answer.

Here’s some of the more odd ones, from the opening weekend, from the people of Bristol.

And with that subject out of the way, here’s some generic ones, from all over the rest of the museum.

And this was only the opening weekend. Who knows what the future holds?

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