Monday, January 31, 2011

National Media Museum

This weekend, we went to the National Media Museum in Bradford. It was really impressive--I couldn't believe it was free. In the basement, they had a gallery on photography that covered everything from the camera obscura and Daguerrotypes to Polaroids and digital cameras. On the main floor, there was a games area with classic arcade games like Space Invaders and TV console games like Donkey Kong & Super Mario Bros.

Floors 2 & 3 were both devoted to current exhibits, which happened to be on photography, too. The 4th floor was devoted to TV and BBC news production (they had some really cool early TV sets), and it had some great interactive stuff (a blue screen and a teleprompter to play with). The 5th floor had a section for kids that we skipped, and a nice gallery on animation history. It had an original set from a Wallace & Gromit movie that I actually had seen, so that was cool. The 6th floor was all about TV, and there were quite a lot of references that I didn't get--it made me realize how important media is to understanding national culture (and this, coming from a communications postgrad student)! I thought I knew all about Britain and British TV by now, but there are some things you'd have to be a native to know (especially references to children's shows). The 7th floor showed the IMAX projection room--the reels of film are massive. Each one lasts an hour, and it's way bigger than normal film.
It was crazy! Apparently, the bulk makes it too heavy for normal film reels, so they use these huge platters--a 2 1/2 hour film weighs 551 lbs! Yikes!

I can't say that many nice things about Bradford (Leeds-Bradford is like Seattle-Tacoma...), but this museum was definitely worth the trip to Bradford!

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