A new interactive, family exhibition is set to open at Bolton Museum – with a tiny mouse as star of the show.
Leopold, the inquisitive mouse, has been designed by Chorlton illustrator Anna Violet and is the mascot for Animals & Us.
He will guide visitors through the exhibition, showing them how all animals – from insects to elephants – are an important part of our everyday lives.
The Animals & Us exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, December 3 in the new exhibition space on the lower ground floor of the museum in Le Mans Crescent.
Situated next to the Aquarium, the exhibition space will provide a temporary attraction while the museum’s Egyptology gallery is undergoing a revamp.
The whole of the top floor of the museum will be closed to the public for several months from December 1, as the £3.5 million project to create Eternal Egypt gets under way.
Animals & Us will include some of the museum’s most popular exhibits, plus some artefacts that will go on display for the first time.
It will include art, social history, archaeology and zoology, with our relationship with animals as the theme running throughout.
The exhibition will be divided into five areas, each with a fun activity for children.
In the ‘Grand Hall’ visitors will see how animals appear as symbols for big ideas; in the ‘Curator’s Office’ they can learn why museums have natural history collections, while on the ‘High Street’ the emphasis will be on how animals have influenced fashion.
The ‘Farmyard’ will highlight how animals have been key to our survival, and finally ‘The Lodge’ will show how they have become a major part of our leisure, home and family life.
Entrance to the exhibition is free and visitors are encouraged to Tweet about their experience using the hashtag #animalsandus
Cabinet Member for Culture, Youth and Sport, Cllr John Byrne, said: “The Animals & Us exhibition will have something of interest for everyone. Animals are always a popular attraction at the museum and regular visitors will also notice some new exhibits that haven’t been on display before.
“The mouse mascot will appeal to younger visitors, as he guides them around the exhibition, and there’s plenty of fun, interactive activities to keep people of all ages engaged and enthralled. Having had a sneak preview, I can only say a big thank you to all the staff who have worked so hard completing the work on time.”
The inspiration for Leopold was actually a museum artefact that had lost some of its stuffing and didn’t have a log number. The museum approached Anna to bring him to life in an illustration, making him the star of the show.
Illustrator Anna Violet added: “I was delighted to be asked to produce some black and white ink drawings for this exhibition, especially Leopold the Mouse. I drew with ink onto small pieces of paper and sent scanned pictures to Bolton Museum. They worked their magic and made these small drawings huge. They also put my drawings together for this display, coloured in Leopold and made the logo.”
A special, free children’s activity day will take place on Saturday, December 3 to help launch the exhibition.
From 11am to 3pm, youngsters are invited to attend in animal fancy dress and enjoy face painting; mask making; meet some birds of prey; and create a clay version of Leopold the mouse with illustrator Anna Violet.
Visitors are also asked to send in photographs of their pets to be included in an iPad gallery as part of the exhibition to Teri Booth.
To keep up to date with what’s happening at Bolton Library and Museum Services, follow them on Twitter @BoltonLMS or like their Facebook page.