What's on - Museums and archives

Details of museums and archives exhibitions and events.

Museum of Wigan Life are free unless otherwise stated.

Exhibitions and events

Ancient Egypt - as seen on BBC TV

Ancient Egyptian maskPermanent display
Price: Free

Our popular Ancient Egypt Rediscovered exhibition is now on permanent display.

Get up close and personal with ancient coffins, grave goods and a spectacular gold mask. This amazing collection covers over 3000 years of Egyptian history.

Treasure! The Extraordinary to the Everyday

Gold filigree case from ancient treasures displayOpens Saturday 2nd July 2016
Price: Free

Discover hidden treasures in the museum’s own ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’. You can find everything from gold Jacobite jewellery to ancient pots from the Royal Persian Tombs. This exhibition is a treasure trove of objects including sacred scrolls from Burma, engraved whales teeth and the flag from General Custer’s Last Stand! Bring your little explorers to create their own cabinet of curiosities!

Chinese Celebrations

Museum of Wigan Life
Tuesday 21st and Thursday 23rd February
1pm – 3pm
Free drop in - No booking required

Half term is packed full of family fun with our traditional Chinese craft and costume. Try your hand at painting, calligraphy and paper cutting then get dressed up in traditional Chinese clothes. Supported by Confucius Classroom, Wigan and Leigh College.

The Spanish Civil War and Wigan

Museum of Wigan Life
Tuesday 28th February
12 noon – 1pm
Price: £2.50 per person (incl. tea/coffee)  booking required

We mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Jarama when the International Brigades helped stop Franco’s advance on Madrid during the Spanish Civil War. What made local people up sticks and fight for democracy and socialism in another country? What was the background to this international conflict? Find out more about the passion and sacrifice of the young volunteers of the International Brigades and their supporters both here and in Spain.

Make Stuff

Museum of Wigan Life
Saturday 4th March
11am – 3pm
Free drop in - No booking required

Make Stuff invites you to get to grips with coding, take an introduction to the world of making and explore some of Manchester’s best home-grown creative tech. Families welcome! No experience required!

George Orwell – The Road to Wigan Pier at 80!
Stephen Armstrong

Museum of Wigan Life
Tuesday 7th March
12 noon – 1pm
Price: £2.50 per person (incl. tea/coffee) booking required

Stephen Armstrong, author of The Road to Wigan Pier Revisited, marks the 80th birthday of Orwell’s original book with this fascinating talk about Eric Blair (George Orwell) and his writing. Orwell researched his book in the old reference library, now the Museum of Wigan Life, and his work has sometimes been controversial in the town. Armstrong examines the context in which Orwell wrote and his approach to social reportage. Come along and find out more about Wigan’s relationship with one of the 20th century’s most important writers.

Sylvia – The Play about Sylvia Pankhurst, Artist and Suffragette
Written and performed by Jacqueline Mulhallen

Museum of Wigan Life
Wednesday 8th March
10am - 11am and 2pm - 3pm
Price: £5.00 per adult, £4.50 per child
Suitable for age 12 – 80 years booking required

To celebrate International Women’s Day a special one-woman performance about the life, art and campaigns of Sylvia Pankhurst. This charts the Suffrage movement’s powerful struggle up until the outbreak of the First World War. Rave reviews include ‘Abosrbing…inspired…a gripping reminder of our own – recent – past’ (Times Educational Supplement).

George Orwell – The man and his work

Museum of Wigan Life
Saturday 11th March
1pm - 3pm
Price: Free booking required

Join us for a series of short talks by the Orwell Society in the very room where Orwell researched The Road to Wigan Pier on the title’s 80th birthday. Richard Blair, Orwell’s son and Patron of the Society, will be attending and happy to answer questions about his father. Lesley Hurts and Dr David Craik offer an introduction to how and why Orwell wrote his famous book, how he conducted his research and social conditions in the 1930s and beyond. Not to be missed!

Easter Eggstravaganza

Museum of Wigan Life
Tuesdays and Thursdays 4th, 6th, 11th and 13th April
1pm – 2.30pm
Price: £2.50 per child booking required

Bring your little chicks for some crafty family fun as we celebrate springtime. Get stuck in with activities and trails then create your own masterpiece to take home. Its eggcellent for everyone!

Wigan Pewter – A Lost Industry
By Caroline Heaven

Museum of Wigan Life
Thursday 20th April
12 noon – 1pm
Price: £2.50 per person (incl. tea/coffee) booking required

During the 1600s Golden Age of Pewter, Wigan was only second to London in the number of pewterers working here. The town supplied much of the North and traded abroad via Liverpool. Why did the pewter industry thrive? Who were the ‘Troublesome Pewterers’ of Wigan? Why did such a flourishing industry begin to fail? This is your chance to obtain answers to these questions and many more and to handle and view genuine pewter artefacts.

Family History and the First World War

Museum of Wigan Life
Thursday 27th April and 8th June
2.30pm – 4pm
Price: £2.50 per person booking required

What did your family do in the war? If you have an ancestor involved in the First World War and want to find out more, this is the workshop for you. We will look at how to search military records online including Wigan Borough Online War Memorial. Tea/coffee not provided.

Egypt's Valleys of the Kings and Queens
with Prof Joann Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley

Museum of Wigan Life
Wednesday 3rd May 2017
3pm – 4.30pm doors/drinks open from 2.15pm
8pm – 9.30pm doors/drinks open from 7.15pm
Price: £10.00 per person (incl. glass of wine) booking required

Join Prof Joann Fletcher and Dr Stephen Buckley for a special lecture about the famous Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Prof Fletcher of the University of York is author of numerous books and her TV appearances include BBC 2’s 'Ancient Egypt: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings’, ‘Immortal Egypt with Joann Fletcher’ and ‘Egypt’s Lost Queens‘. Dr. Buckley, Research Fellow at the Universities of York and Tubingen, uses science to reveal new insights into mummification and Ancient History. His work includes the BAFTA-winning 'Mummifying Alan: Egypt's Last Secret'. Guests receive a welcome drink on arrival with a chance to look at the displays before the lecture about the tombs and mummies of some of Ancient Egypt’s most famous kings and queens studied by Stephen and Joann. The event will be followed by a Q & A session. This is a unique opportunity and tickets will sell out fast so book your space soon by calling (01942) 828128 or contact us.

Victorian Medicine
by Charlie Guy

Museum of Wigan Life
Monday 8th May
12 noon – 1pm
Price: £2.50 per person (incl. tea/coffee) booking required

Victorian medicine could be a combination of quackery, pseudoscience and luck. Medicines ranged from mercury, arsenic and phosphorous to leeches and laxatives. Find out about the use of electricity and class A drugs on the ill and beliefs about the women and sex. Discover how approaches to care were defined by a patient’s social class, gender and race. Don’t miss this intriguing look into the medical quirks and progress of the Victorian Age.

Museums at Night

Museum of Wigan Life
Friday 19th May
7pm – 10.30pm
Price: £3.00 per person booking required

After dark the museum comes alive with new art, music and performance. Forget what you know about museums and see culture in a new light. Visit for a drink, explore the quirky corners and discover newly commissioned artworks, live music and soundscapes.

Creepy Crawlies and Brilliant Bugs

Museum of Wigan Life
Tuesday 30th May and Thursday 1st June
1pm – 2.30pm
Price: £2.50 per per child booking required

Join us for May half term! Make your own creep crawlies, go on a ‘bug hunt’ and get a peak behind the scenes at preserved insects and butterflies from the collection.

The Douglas Navigation 
By Mike Clarke

Museum of Wigan Life
Tuesday 20th June
12 noon – 1pm
Price: £2.50 per person (incl. tea/coffee) booking required

Back by popular demand Mike Clarke looks at the story of Wigan’s River Douglas as it was turned from a natural waterway into an industrial highway. The Douglas Navigation was authorised in 1720 and finally opened in 1742 before it was closed in 1781. Find out more about this important part of our industrial heritage.

Passchendaele and the First World War
By Colonel Glover

Museum of Wigan Life
Thursday 6th July
12 noon – 1.15pm
Price: £2.50 per person (incl. tea/coffee) booking required

July 2017 marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, an event made infamous by the mud and slaughter faced by troops on both sides during the First World War. After three months of fighting, causalities numbered 325,000 for the Allies and 260,000 for the Germans. The huge loss of life for limited gains continues to make this major battle controversial today. Why did the battle take place? How was it fought? What was the reality on the ground? Find out more about the military context of this battle and the conditions for those who lived and died through it.

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