Monday, 7 June 2010

The American Museum in Bath

Well I have been rather absent due to an unfortunately combination of earaches and other family health dramas. But as an attempt to claw back some rest and recreation in our half term week we set off to the ancient spa town of Bath to take the waters.

If you've visited Bath before you will agree that it is just the most wonderful town. It's just elegance incarnate. Every perfectly designed regency house built in soft warm yellow sandstone with its elaborate but restrained wrought iron balconies and window boxes, is a joy to behold. Bath makes you feel like the rest of us really need to make a bit more effort, but in a nice polite way. And that's before you factor in the Roman Baths, the wonderful River Avon winding through the countryside to be crossed by the beautiful and very un-English Poultney Bridge. It fair makes one want to be holding a fashionable parasol and wearing kid leather gloves as one wanders about!

Our health was much restored, and Bath was wonderful, but the highlight of our trip was a day at the American Museum. This gem of a museum is housed in a former stately home Claverton Manor, set high up in the hills looking down over the most breathtakingly unspoilt valley. The museum is a great day out for kids and adults alike. We knew we were on to a winner as my daughters face lit up at the wagon parked outside (she is a HUGE house on the Prairie fan). Inside the museum we enjoyed visiting an authentic Saloon bar, a Quaker house, a southern belles bedroom, each room set furnished with antiques of the period down to the tiniest details. My kids were enthralled and they are not always that big into museums(!). There were cowboy hats and belts to try on, Pilgrim father hats, and an amazing installation where you could design a quilt by touch screen whereby it was projected across the room (cue two of my children trying to cover themselves (virtually) in the quilt designed by the third!).

The highlight for me is up in the large light filled studio on the top floor where some of the museums collection of antique quilts are displayed, and rotated. I visited the V&A Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition earlier in the spring, which i loved. But I absolutely adored the American Museum collection. Sitting in a sunlit bay window seat, in a beautiful room, looking at amazing quilts, it was an afternoon of bliss! The quilts are displayed in large frames, you can get so close and really study how they are made which is so nice to be able to do. You aren't allowed to take photographs so I have no pics to show you, but I bought the guide book i would really recommend it even if you can't visit the museum as it is such a great read. It takes each quilt and talks extensively about the methods of its construction etc, but more than that it tells you how it came to be in the museum. I just love hearing the stories of how these quilts came to be found.
So home we came, back to school and work, much restored and full of ideas! I hope you had a nice holiday week or weekend too.


  1. Thanks for posting this, I 'm planing to stay in Bath for a couple of days in the summer mainly so I can visit this museum, you make it sound like a great place to go with enough to amuse partner and daughter too!

  2. It looks lovely but I am biased as I live in Bath! Glad you enjoyed your visit, I went to see the American museum a couple of weeks ago and loved it.