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New accessible cultural attractions to visit in 2018/19

VA Dundee


Many intriguing artistic, historic and cultural attractions are opening in the UK in 2018. You can now discover the original sketches by engineer I.K Brunel, the mastermind behind the iconic SS Great Britain, watch Welsh history come back to life and admire historic photography collections at the V&A in London.

With so many exciting new cultural attractions opening this year, it’d be a shame to miss out due to mobility problems. So we’ve created a round-up of the very best new galleries, museums and exhibitions which are fully accessible for wheelchair users and offer features such as stairlifts, elevators and ramped access.

Being Brunel, SS Great Britain, Bristol

Brunel SS Great Britain


Discover fascinating artefacts from the National Brunel Collection at the new Being Brunel exhibition in Bristol. Brunel’s SS Great Britain is considered one of the most important historic ships in the world. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was one of the 19th century engineering masters, and his achievements are recognised at the museum today. Over 14,000 items will be on display, including Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s cigar case, a drawing of a horse by I.K Brunel created when he was 6, and his sketchbook featuring drawings from 1852-1854. All items have been generously loaned by the University of Bristol Brunel Collection, the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and the SS Great Britain Trust.

Entry to Being Brunel is included in the admission price for the SS Great Britain, and offers free unlimited return visits for one year. In terms of accessibility, the team at Brunel’s SS Great Britain have worked hard to ensure everyone can explore the museum, regardless of any mobility issues. The Dry Dock, Dockyard Museum, Brunel Institute and the ship are fully accessible for wheelchair users, and both levels of the new Being Brunel exhibition offer step-free access and wheelchair access. Disabled toilets can be found throughout the attraction. For full access information, visit the website.

Photography centre at the V&A Museum, London

VA photography centre

Photography enthusiasts should mark 12th October in their calendars, as this is the opening date of the V&A Museum’s brand new photography centre in London. Featuring a history of photography curated from the Royal Photographic Society collection, a commission by renowned photographer Thomas Ruff and newly-acquired images by Linda McCartney, the centre will cover photography to suit all tastes. The centre will more than double the V&A’s current photography exhibition space. In an article by the British Journal of Photography, the museum’s senior curator of photographs, Martin Barnes, said the new centre will be “full of treasures waiting to be discovered”.

The V&A Museum is very accessible to those with limited mobility who usually rely on the help of a stairlift or other mobility aids at home. Wheelchairs and walking frames are available to borrow from the information desk in the Grand Entrance, there are 13 accessible toilets and 12 blue badge parking spaces available close by.

V&A Dundee, Scotland

VA Dundee Scotland

All eyes will be on eastern Scotland this autumn as the country’s first design museum opens its doors. The V&A Dundee will welcome art and design enthusiasts from September 15th, and promises to present ‘the brilliance of Scottish creativity and the best of design from around the world’. The building itself is a work of art, and the planned exhibitions are certainly something to be excited about. Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, will allow guests to experience how ocean liners became such an iconic part of 20th century modernity. The 3D Festival will kick off the museum’s opening weekend with concerts, contemporary art and creative workshops.

The V&A Dundee has been designed with accessibility in mind. There are accessible toilets available on all floors and a Changing Places toilet on Level 1. There is lift access to all floors and every space can accommodate wheelchairs. If you’d like to borrow a wheelchair during your visit, there are a limited number available free of charge. Simply email ahead of your visit. Disabled parking bays are available outside the museum.

D-Day Story, Portsmouth

D-Day Story Portsmouth

Reopening after a £4.9m refurbishment ahead of the 75th D-Day anniversary in 2019, this museum is well worth a visit for history buffs. The D-Day Story Portsmouth educates visitors through interactive and creative exhibits.

We spoke to the team at The D-Day Story Portsmouth to find out more: “The focus of The D-Day Story is the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany occupation. It is told using the personal possessions and words of the people who took part. Stunning imagery, audio-visual presentations and hands-on interactives help bring the story to life.

“Based on ordinary people working together to achieve the extraordinary, the D-Day Story features the experiences of men, women and children. The story is told in three parts – preparation, D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, Legacy and the Overlord Embroidery.

“You can learn why the troops went to Normandy and not Calais, and who the main decision makers were at the time. We touch on the training of troops, espionage and equipment that was used including Hobarts funnies. We have a wonderful collection of short videos of veterans recounting certain memories. We have a dedicated area to the Making of the Overlord Embroidery, which includes why it was made, how it was made, and its journey up until it took permanent residence here in Southsea, Portsmouth.”

For visitors with limited mobility, the team at The D-Day Story Portsmouth have taken particular care to ensure the museum is accessible to everyone. There are two accessible toilets, no steps, level floors with ramps, wide pathways, spacious turning circles and no internal doors. All activities in the displays have also been designed to be viewed from a wheelchair. Visit the website for full details of the museum’s accessibility.

St Fagan’s National Museum of History, Cardiff

St Fagans Museum

St Fagans National Museum of History is one of seven museums which form Amgueddfa Cymru – the National Museum of Wales. Thanks to the extremely generous donation of the castle and parkland to Wales by the Earl of Plymouth, the museum first opened in 1948, as the UK’s very first national open-air museum. “Today, it is one of Europe’s leading open-air museums and Wales’ most popular heritage attraction, offering free entry to all,” said the team at St Fagans.

“Since 1948, over 40 original buildings from different historical periods have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland, among them houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a splendid Workmen’s Institute.

“Traditional crafts and activities bring St Fagans alive, in workshops where craftsmen still demonstrate their traditional skills. Their produce is usually on sale. Native breeds of livestock can be seen in the fields and farmyards, and demonstrations of farming tasks take place daily.”

Visitors to St Fagans are invited to learn about the rich heritage and culture of Wales and the Welsh language. All-year-round, the museum comes to life through traditional festivals, music and dance events. In October 2018, the New Galleries and Visitor Learning Experience centre will be complete. The £30 million project will transform the museum, bringing exciting new attractions.

St Fagans Museum Wales

“Two new galleries, ‘Wales is…’ and ‘Life is…’ will bring together the national collections of history and archaeology to create fresh perspectives on Welsh history,” said the museum staff. “Together with a new temporary exhibition space, they will enable us to develop new ways of telling stories about our collections and involve others in the storytelling.

“Objects will be presented as evidence of the people who used them, wormholes that connect us to the lives and concerns of other people. Visitors will be able to contribute to displays, adding stories and memories to the snapshots of life in Wales.

“A third gallery/activity space, ‘Gweithdy’ (the Welsh word for workshop), is an iconic, multi-purpose, sustainable building. This space will celebrate the skills of makers past and present, and encourage visitors of all ages to experience the traditional skills first-hand.”

To ensure that everyone can discover St Fagans National Museum of History, even with limited mobility, there are plenty of disabled access features. There are dedicated parking spaces for disabled visitors, which are adjacent to the main entrance. Wheelchairs are available on request free of charge, and most of the site is accessible for wheelchair users.

The staff added: “The terrain on the castle side of the museum is steep in places and may prove difficult for some wheelchair users and their helpers. A map clearly displaying a suggested path for wheelchair users, and identifying steep gradients, is available from the main entrance at a cost of 50p.

“A motorised disabled tour vehicle (DTV) is available to transport visitors around the site. The DTV can carry up to a maximum of five passengers. However, only two severely disabled people can be transported at any one time and, for health & safety compliance, they must be accompanied by one carer each. As a trained driver is required we request that bookings for this free service are made two weeks in advance by telephoning (029) 2057 3500.”

St Fagans also has a Changing Places unit with an electronic bed and hoist and other disabled facilities. A key is available on request from the main entrance desk.

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Image Credit: D-Day Museum Portsmouth, V&A Dundee images – Hufton&Crow, V&A London, ©Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales