Prize drawers

7th February 1997 at 00:00
Betty Jerman reports from Aylesbury.

Drawers are a major feature in "A Touch of Bucks" at the Buckinghamshire County Museum, Aylesbury.

They glide out at a touch to reveal objects relating to each topic. For Wood and Woodlands, you find tools and nearby is a wooden man and his dog and a forester's helmet and gloves to be tried on. For Fossils, a woolly mammoth's leg bone is revealed. There is also a fossil game where you touch objects on a panel to find one. The children of lace-making Victorian women kept bobbins filled with thread. Beautiful patterns are on display.

A dining room in a Victorian doctor's home has been restored with pictures, lamps, a fireplace and cutlery box. Children can dress up in period clothing. An actor playing the doctor's wife expresses the middle class social values of the time and complains about the servants.

The museum also has a large art gallery for exhibitions, often with allied workshops; and a medieval apartment with decorative wall paintings, an open piece of floor so the timbers with holes for pegs can be seen and a glass panel to give a view into the original wall. The museum, founded in 1862, was re-opened in 1995 with a lively modern approach which won the 1996 Museum of the Year Award. Since then, an extension has been built into an 18th-century Coach House for the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery. The aim of encouraging seven to 11-year-olds to investigate history, natural history, science and technology must succeed amid the enjoyment of Dahl's characters, presented like the pages of an enormous pop-up book.

A binocular microscope in James's cave-size Giant Peach enlarges on screen some of the creatures he met. Pupils can also handle shells, corals, fossils.

In the Imagination Gallery, reached by the Great Glass Elevator, hands-on science and technology is created in Dahl style with a back-to-front maze, a mirror that reverses mirror writing and the chance to appear in a Quentin Blake illustration through videochromakey, an illusory technique used for presenting TV weather maps or showing Batman flying over Gotham City.

Schools can book exclusive use of the gallery.

Buckinghamshire County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury. Tel: 01296 331441

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