It was small daughter's choice; she's been bursting to go back there ever since she went on a school trip as there is so much to see and she didn't get to look at it all. It's been quite some time since I last went, so I was looking forward to seeing what it was that had caught small daughter's imagination.
The Museum is at the end of Deansgate. We travelled to Victoria station by train, caught the free city shuttle bus which travels between Victoria and Piccadilly stations and hopped off when the friendly driver told us we were close to the Museum. There was plenty going on - all sorts of fun things lined up for the Easter weekend - and we arrived to a buzz of excitement and another friendly face which belonged to a man who pointed us in the direction of free maps and other helpful information.
MOSI has changed a lot since I last went. It's fun and vibrant and definitely very child-orientated with plenty to see and touch. Our first port of call was the Experiment! section. It's a brilliant hands-on area for children to see how science can work in everyday life. Small daughter's favourite bit is using a gear system to lift a Mini car simply by winding a handle. Big daughter had a go on everything too; it was a great opportunity for her to forget all about revision for a few hours (GCSEs are looming!) and have some fun.
We loved this exhibit too and spent ages playing with it. Concave mirrors make it look as if your own hand is reaching out towards you - it was fascinating!
The theme of the weekend was "Power - from muscle to machine" and one of the shows was performed by this man, John Evans, who holds several world records for balancing things on his head. Every time we passed, he seemed to be balancing yet another fantastic (and very heavy) object on his head - we spotted him with this car as we were going up the stairs to another floor of the museum.
One of the things that I liked about the Museum was how much emphasis there is on technology and innovations from Manchester. It's important for children to see that new inventions can come from their home city (or very close to) instead of from somewhere across the world. Avro built the first all-British aeroplane, and just next to it is a replica of "Baby", the world's first stored-program computer. And that's not all - the Museum is full of things that we take for granted now that started their life in Manchester.
The layout is quite different to when I last visited, and facing the aeroplane in the above picture is a small stage area where MOSI's Explainers (Museum staff who encourage you to ask questions) do short child-focussed presentations at certain times of the day. It's all about making science fun and capturing imaginations - because who knows what anyone can achieve once their imagination has been fired up? All good inventions started out with a single thought ...
We moved on to the Air and Space Gallery, full of aeroplanes, cars, engines and motorbikes all with a local connection. My husband had laughingly said that this was the "boys' section" but small daughter was keen to lead the way to show us a full-sized helicopter that she'd wanted to spend more time looking at on her school trip. "Girls can like these things too," she said!
One of the exhibits that the school trip didn't have time for was the Underground Manchester section. Located at the very end of the Museum site, we walked through an old-fashioned station booking hall and lots of interesting information boards about Manchester;s history to some stairs that led us underground. This gallery tells the story of the water supply and sanitation developments from Roman times to the present day, and even takes you through a replica of a real sewer. Small daughter walked through most of this exhibit holding her nose because it's not just what the sewer looks like that they show you ....!
Then it was time to make our way back to the main Museum building. We passed through the Power Hall which has lots of locally-built steam engines which were an integral part of Manchester's industry. This is my Dad's favourite part of the Museum - the last time we came was when his brother (my uncle) came to visit and we spent most of our time in here, examining the engines in great detail. On this visit, though, we moved through much more quickly.
We had a great time at the Museum and loved the improvements that they had made. We even managed to squeeze in time for a drink and a sandwich at their downstairs coffee bar which prides itself on using locally-sourced ingredients, and were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't extortionately expensive as sometimes Museum cafes are.
Big daughter, when she was small daughter's age, used to call it the "Museum of Science and Interesting" instead of Industry and even after many visits over the years, it still is. It's free to get into the Museum but they do ask for a donation of £3 towards running costs. It was worth every penny and small daughter is already planning to take several friends back for this year's birthday treat. Perhaps we'd better warn MOSI in advance!