Historic City of York Celebrates International Museum Day

Wartime Kit Kat
Wartime Kit Kat

York’s museums will celebrate the city’s rich history starting this weekend to mark International Museum Day (May 18)

For the first time social media will be used by the city’s tourism organisation Visit York to establish York as one of the country’s most important cities for its rich collection of cultural and historic artefacts. From Britain’s biggest Ichthyosaur fossil to possibly the oldest object on earth – the Middlesbrough Meteorite, York is home to many of the country’s rarest treasures.

Captain Scott's Tin

Captain Scott's Tin

Images of some of the many thousands of historic, unusual and even unexpected exhibits will be posted on-line via Facebook. Virtual visitors will be invited to comment and share their own images related to York’s past. Through International Museum Day, Visit York will help people discover that each of the objects and exhibits they’ll find at a museum in the city is just a touch-point to revealing a fascinating story.

Kay Hyde, Head of Communications at Visit York said, ‘York has more museums and attractions than any other city of its size. They record the history and stories of Vikings to Victorians and Richard III to railways. By creating a ‘virtual museum’ to mark International Museum Day we can give visitors a flavour of the rare exhibits on show in the city.’

Some of the images to be shared, starting on National Museum Day will include:

The huge Ichthyosaur fossil is the biggest of its type in Britain

More than 20 feet long, this fossilised remains of a marine reptile were found in the Jurassic rocks of the Yorkshire Coast in 1857. It is very rare to find one as well preserved and complete as this one exhibited at the Yorkshire Museum. Ichthyosaurs were some of the largest sea predators, very similar to dolphins in shape and form.

Possibly the oldest artefact you’ll ever see the Middlesbrough Meteorite.

This amazing object exhibited at the Yorkshire Museum is around four and a half billion years old. It was formed at the same time as the earth as well as the solar system and is the only example of such a meteorite in the country outside of the Natural History Museum. The meteorite came to earth on March 14 1881. Workmen at a railway siding in Middlesbrough heard a ‘rushing or roaring’ sound overhead, followed by a thud, as they found the fossil buried in the embankment nearby.

Captain Scott of the Antarctic’s tin of cocoa

This treasured home comfort was found beside the frozen explorer’s remains. It survived one of the world’s most famed and daring expeditions and is now back in the city it was made in. See it at York’s CHOCOLATE Story.

A lock of steam locomotive designer Robert Stephenson’s hair believed to have been taken at the time of his death in 1859.

Robert Stephenson was the only son of railway innovator George Stephenson. The design principles of his trailblazing steam locomotive ‘Rocket’ were embodied in all subsequent steam locomotives. The lock of hair can be found at the National Railway Museum.

Unusual artefacts made by German and Turkish prisoners of war

Including a glass bead snake from WW1, a ship in a bottle, a cigarette case made in aluminium and a duck toy. These items can be seen at Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum which is housed within an original Prisoner of War Camp.

The Escrick Ring

This nationally important sapphire ring, thought to have been owned by royalty in the 5th and 6th century, was found in Escrick, a village near York in 2009, by a metal detecting enthusiast. Archaeologists say that nothing like the Escrick Ring from that period has ever been found in the UK before.

The Austin 7

One of the most popular cars ever produced for the British market (during 1922 and 1939) can be seen at Eden Camp Modern Military Theme Museum.

World War Two Blue Kit Kat

In 1941 KIT KAT got a case of the blues when shortages of milk saw a plain chocolate KIT KAT sold in a blue wrapper – the familiar red wrapper and milk chocolate returned in 1949. This and other chocolate rarities are on show at York’s CHOCOLATE Story.

Janet Barnes, Head of York Museums Trust said, ‘Museums play a vital role in bringing the past to life and linking different cultures together. King George V1 famously said ‘the history of York is the history of England’ and York’s seven million visitors, who come from all over the world, can learn so much about Britain’s people and culture through our many museums..”

Other popular museums and visitor attractions in York include: York Minster, the Jorvik Viking Centre, the Richard III Museum, York Castle Museum, the Yorkshire Air Museum, the York Army Museum, York Dungeon, the Bar Convent, the Treasurer’s House, Barley Hall, the Mansion House, Clifford’s Tower and Micklegate Bar Museum.

Visit York is encouraging the nation to take part in National Museum Day by sharing your memories and stories of York in response to the images displayed. Visit www.facebook.com/visityork from May 18th.

Find out more about York’s museums by visiting Visit York telephone Visit York Information Centre on 01904 550099 or email info@visityork.org