Blackpool's Museums and Art Galleries

While Blackpool is known primarily as a tourist resort with amazing amusement arcades and fun fairs, the town also has many museums and art galleries of note.

The Louis Tussauds Waxworks on Central Promenade is certainly Blackpool's most famous museum. It contains five floors of incredibly lifelike waxwork figures of the Royal family, along with film stars, great singers, superstar athletes and politicians. The museum also has a Chamber of Horrors that is not for the faint of heart and the Anatomy Exhibition.

Science lovers will thoroughly enjoy the Golden Mile Centre on Central Promenade which features a popular Exhibition of the Universe, complete with various aliens and UFOs. The exhibit was created by David Boyle, a researcher who specializes in the spiritual, the supernatural and the unexplained.

Now that you are in a "science fiction mood," you should pop into the Dr Who Exhibition and Museum, which is just a few short steps away. The Dr Who Exhibit includes a massive collection of original props and costumes spanning 40 years of British science fiction on television.

The Blackpool Model Village and Gardens is another impressive sight, occupying two-and-a-half acres of beautiful gardens on Stanley Park. The exhibit features hundreds of models, including a model windmill and castle, set against a stunning backdrop of lakes, running streams and waterfalls.

If boats are your thing, then the Blackpool Lifeboat Station and Visitor Centre on Central Promenade may be just what the doctor ordered. Standing beneath the imposing shadow of Blackpool Tower, the lifeboat station has a delightful visitors’ centre with its own interactive displays, a viewing gallery and a souvenir shop.

Blackpool may have only one legitimate art gallery, but what a gallery it is. The Grundy Art Gallery, located right next to the Blackpool Central Library on Queen Street, is widely regarded as one of the premiere small galleries in the United Kingdom. Built in 1911 as a multi-purpose building, the Grundy Art Gallery offers a tranquil haven of peace and serenity to those who wish to escape Blackpool's hustle and bustle even for a moment.

The gallery is named in honor of the Grundy brothers, Cuthbart and John, two avid art collectors who donated their impressive collection of paintings to the town of Blackpool in 1903. Hence, the Grundy Art Gallery was formed. Today, the gallery boasts of a huge collection of oils and watercolors, including classic and modern British paintings, Oriental ivories and prints.

Over the years, the gallery's collection has grown considerably and now includes quite a number of ceramics and old photographs depicting Blackpool's rich history. Throughout the year, many of the foremost local and national artists stage special exhibitions to the delight of visitors.

Although Blackpool only has one art gallery, there are many temporary exhibitions all year round, especially during the summer months at the North Pier. Recently, the North Pier played host to the George Formby Centenary Exhibitions, which commemorated the 100th birth anniversary of the legendary film star and singer.

Over at South Promenade is another permanent display of contemporary art dubbed as the Great Promenade Show. Some of the leading artists and designers in the UK pool their talents to make this year-round outdoor exhibit a hit by contributing noteworthy pieces of sculptures, art pieces and even lighting. At night, the exhibit becomes an inspirational sight, especially when the light hits certain angles and creates new dimensions.

While touring Blackpool for its museums and galleries, visitors should also take note of the town's many offerings in the realm of dance, such as the annual Dance Festival, contemporary dance school and the tea dances every Saturday at the Tower Ballroom. For these and other reasons, Blackpool has gained some fame as Britain's capital of dance.

With its theatres regularly hosting the English National Ballet and with the town itself serving as the venue for the World Ballroom Dance competitions, Blackpool has certainly earned its niche in the world of dance. But nothing reinforces its reputation as Britain's dance capital than the annual Blackpool Dance Festival.

Now over 80 years old, the Dance Festival brings together top dancers from over 50 countries to compete in ballroom and Latin American dancing. The competition almost always includes the British Open Championships. Being the best looking pair on the floor doesn't guarantee victory but it certainly helps. And the competitors know that as well, as evidenced by these statistics. During the annual Dance Festival, dancers consume about 2,000 cans of hairspray, 1,000 bottles of nail varnish, 3,000 bottles of fake tan and use up over 1,500 pairs of tights.

If you enjoy contemporary dance, then a trip to Blackpool's leading theatres should be in order. Both the Grand Theatre and the Opera House are renowned for staging modern and hip musicals.

Meanwhile, if you want to do more than just watch, then bring your dancing shoes and head for any of the many dance schools in Blackpool which offer everything from modern and ballroom dancing to ballet, jazz and tap dancing.

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