RAMM celebrates 150th anniversary

A Carnival of the Animals in Exeter City Centre, a new children’s book and a commemorative beer are amongst the celebrations for the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery’s 150th anniversary.
When the museum opened, it was known then as the Albert Memorial Museum, School of Art and Science and Free Library’. To celebrate 150 years, RAMM is recreating some of the events that took place at the time, and has added some new ones.
The celebrations begin with the Carnival of the Animals on Saturday 21 April. As RAMM takes to the streets of Exeter, there will be large-scale, kinetic animal puppets, music, performances and activities. Internationally known carnival company Shademakers will be bringing carnival animals inspired by the museum’s collections. Two creatures will be specially commissioned – a giraffe to represent RAMM’s famous Gerald, and another animal chosen by RAMM’s visitors and supporters.

Exeter Cathedral Green 11am-12 noon

Princesshay Exeter 11.30am-1.30pm

Princesshay Exeter procession to Rougemont Gardens 1.30pm. RAMM’s vibrant celebration procession moves to Rougemont Gardens for even more fun activities and music (wear your mask creation and join the procession).

Rougemont Gardens 2-4pm.

Procession to RAMM 4pm. The City Steam Jazz band will lead everyone from Rougemont Gardens to RAMM.

RAMM 4-6pm. They’ll be an opportunity to enjoy the museum after hours with dressing up in Victorian clothes, Magic Lantern show, music and cake.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum is an exhibition by photographer Jim Wileman who has been capturing some of the museum moments that members of the public don’t normally see. RAMM gave Jim a backstage pass’ to see the delicate conservation work in the labs and see how exhibitions are put together. He went on the roof, watched the meticulous cleaning of the galleries, and visited the museum stores to see some of the many objects which are not currently on display. The exhibition takes place from 20 April to 2 May.
Illustrator Victoria Byron has created a new children’s book specially for RAMM. Alfie is a sparrow who sits amongst the other birds in the gallery. One night, when the visitors have all left, something magical happens; the museum comes alive and Alfie goes exploring. Alfie’s Night Out will be available from the Shop at RAMM, and the original illustrations will be on display alongside some of Victoria’s sketch books in an exhibition from 20 April to 2 Sept. Young visitors can create their own stories with a puppet theatre and explore books that their parents and grandparents might have read when they were young.
On Sunday 29 April, visitors to the exhibition will be able to join Victoria Byron, the creator of Alfie’s Night Out, find out how she created her beautiful images and hear the book read by Conor Magee, who wrote the words. The book will be available for purchase with a 20% discount for those attending this launch, and Victoria will be signing copies.
The original opening of the museum was celebrated with a concert, so EMG Symphony Orchestra will be performing the 150th Anniversary Celebration Concert in Exeter Cathedral on Saturday 28 April. The orchestra have specially selected a museum-inspired programme of music including Carnival of the Animals’ and Night at the Museum.
There will be a range of 150th merchandise available from The Shop at RAMM featuring a 150th anniversary illustration by Aylwyn Bowen. The museum has also teamed up with Exeter Brewery to launch Albert’s Ale – a special RAMM 150th anniversary beer.
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture, said:
“This is a time for real celebration for the city of Exeter. We’re immensely proud of RAMM, the museum’s 150 year history, and all that has been achieved during that time. RAMM has a special place in the memories of generations of Exonians who have enjoyed visits to learn from the museum’s collections, to be inspired by them, and to discover new things. There is a wonderful range of events and activities to celebrate this special anniversary, and we welcome everyone to join in.”
The celebrations will continue throughout the year, with a range of events including a series of talks by high profile speakers.
More information about all the events for RAMM’s 150th anniversary celebrations is available on the museum’s website www.rammuseum.org.uk/150th.

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