On the outskirts of Leicester, not far from the City Centre lies the Museum and Art Gallery on New Walk. It was established in 1849 and is actually one of the first publicly opened museums in the United Kingdom. The museum houses many displays, but they’re mainly found in the categories of art, natural history, and science.
The building itself was designed by renowned architect and creator of the hansom cab, Joseph Hansom. Over the years, the museum has seen much in the way of expansion, most recently in 2011.
The museum has numerous exhibits that visitors to the area can find permanently on display. Such exhibits include a fascinating foray into dinosaurs, Ancient Egyptian artefacts, Leicestershire minerals, and even more importantly, the first identified Charnia fossil that was found nearby. A dedicated wildlife section features taxidermied animals that visitors can see that come from countries around the globe.
The Egyptian exhibit contains four permanent mummies on display, and in recent years, the Egyptology section saw development and expansion as a result of public interest. Much of what visitors can find in the form of artefacts were acquired in the 19th century during the Egyptology boon that Europeans underwent. In fact, as of 2018, the Egyptology exhibit is home to more than 400 cultural artefacts. Purchased from the now bankrupt Thomas Cook Group, the husband and wife statue of Sethmose and Isisnofret are also on display as of 2020.
Polar and savannah themed animal taxidermy specimens are also widely viewed by tourists. Peppy, a stuffed polar bear and also a mascot of Fox’s Glacier Mints, is an iconic staple in the exhibit.
Though largely condemned by the Nazis during the war, much of the art on display in the gallery section is the painstaking work of German Expressionist painters. Paul Klee and George Grosz are two of the most noteworthy additions to the permanent display. In 2007, the museum and gallery were also able to acquire over 100 pieces of ceramic art by Pablo Picasso.
The pandemic saw the re-emergence of the museum as it underwent a name change in 2020. After a lengthy closure, the museum wanted to cement itself as a part of Leicester history and show that it is the go-to local museum. As such, it was renamed the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery. The new name is a representation of the city’s commitment to art and culture.