Saturday, 23 June 2007

thinktank at Millennium Point, Birmingham

I took a trip over to Birmingham this afternoon to visit thinktank, which (among other things) tells the history of Birmingham. The story is illustrated by the machinery used in and produced by the city’s industry. There is a great contrast between the giant steam pumping engines and the intricate button making machine.

The motor industry is remembered with some fine motorcycles from BSA and Brough Superior and some Austin cars – a Seven, Ruby and an original 1959 Mini (or Austin Se7en to be precise). The pioneer motor industry is illustrated by a license-built version of a Benz car. It seemed a missed opportunity not to credit Lanchester although there was a Lanchester prototype petrol-electric car, which I’d not heard of before.

The problem is that the museum’s strengths are also its weaknesses; there is so much in the museum that it sometimes seems to lack focus. Some more depth and detail on the exhibits would have been good – and this is where the museum’s website comes into its own - once you find your way around. Entry is quite expensive at £8.50 for an adult ticket but a family ticket at £25 represents quite good value and there is plenty to keep the whole family interested. Just don’t go on a weekend and expect to buy lunch – all the catering concessions appeared to be closed.

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