Culture & Society

A Day in the Futures Past

One man’s opinion on a museum, filled with pop culture.

I have always loved museums. Ever since I was a boy I have been going to museums all over England, including my favourites such as the Natural History museum in London, and the York Railway museum. However, after attending Bradford’s Media museum in March, I find myself adding a third onto my list. Enticed by an extensive video game achieve, I felt a huge desire to go check it out. Overwhelmed, I explored further into the exhibits within the building and by reviewing this great museum, I wish to convince you to find the great urge I felt, to go and experience what Bradford has to offer.

This article will go through the Museum’s main exhibitions, with a personal analysis of what I experienced throughout my day there.

Welcome to Life Online
The museum starts strong here, with an area on the evolution of the internet as well as personal Computers (mainly with a lot of old school PC’s), as well as a few newer items with internet capabilities. From the popular Apple II and ZX Spectrum, to the obscure material like the Oric-1 or BBC Micro. I never realised how the old computers really looked until I see them in comparison to my MacBook. It is fascinating to say that the object you are reading this article on right now, has more power than the PC’s that helped man get to the moon.

Experience TV
Within this exhibit there is an extensive, yet fun, look at British telly. Most of the physical objects here come from old children’s shows or cult television hits. It has a timeline about the history of British Television, including iconic TV moments (like first episode of Dr Who, the Pop Idol finale and a few soap operas). The objects on display are in my opinion amazing, with the marionettes from Thunderbirds, Thunderbirds 2 and Captain Scarlet himself. They also have Zippy and George from Rainbow, a few Wombles on display, Wallace and Gromit from A Close Shave, (that won’t be the last they appear here), Gordon the Gopher from Going Live (a show that was just too before my time), and a DALEK. I really hope that it is not active. One DALEK could take out half the city.

Sight and Sound
This area of the museum focuses on creating a nice child friendly space, where they show all the technical stuff of how light works and the science behind sound. How creators play tricks on our eyesight, through simplistic tools and devices, allowing a way in which children can understand and also enjoy. However, this section was not really for me, as I am here for the ACTUAL TV, not how it works (sorry Bradford).

Game lounge
At the entrance of this cornered-off lobby, there is a small area showing off a few famous (or infamous) video game machines, from the NES, Game Boy, Virtual Boy, Xbox etc… to name a few. Inside there’s a few game machines ready for you to play and “attempt” to have fun with. Games featured include, the original Prince of Persia (a classic but archaic), Sonic 2 (way past cool), Super Mario Kart (I prefer the sequels), and Pac Man. As you can guess, there is a vast range of opportunities to play with some old school favourites, provided you have 20p on hand to use some of the Arcade cabinets! On the wall is an abridged timeline of Video games, but really if we are honest with ourselves, we are only here to actually play some games and not to learn.

History of Animation.
Mostly focusing on British animation (with a smattering of American here and there), there is a lot to look at here. For starters we have those aliens from the Smash commercials (the 2nd most loved commercial in the UK?). Also featuring are some still sketch frames from Tom and Jerry, a detailed set from the Wombles and the only remaining set from the Wallace and Gromit television show The Wrong Trousers. Not only this, but the Media museum also presents a few experimental shorts and some lesser known art pieces to fill in this space, which I think fits rather nicely with another aspect from the history behind animation. With a vast insight into older animations and the creators behind the iconic images, Bradford also involves the dynamics of how the genre of animation has evolved over the last century or so. I think this is a really fun and easy way to find out all the interesting aspects that are involved with creating animation, while reminiscing on a few old classics.

So at the end of it all would I recommend the Bradford National Media museum to you as a reader? Yes. No ‘if’s’ or ‘but’s’ about it, if you like film, television or video games this is a place for you.