Mice take over at Bailiffgate Museum in Alnwick

Mice have taken over a Northumberland museum ahead of its reopening later this month

The mouse classroom designed by Caroline Miekina and brought to life by model maker Christopher Kelly
The mouse classroom designed by Caroline Miekina and brought to life by model maker Christopher Kelly

A mischievous mouse is set to become a star attraction for young visitors to a Northumberland museum.

Finlay is the new resident mouse at the refurbished Bailiffgate Museum at Alnwick, which opens its doors to the public on February 15.

Finlay and his family were dreamed up by volunteers at the independent museum, which has undergone a major revamp following a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

But trustees drafted in a prestigious design team to perfect the little creatures.

Finlay and co were designed by Caroline Miekina from Yorkshire based JANVS Design/VIDAR Media, whose name has become well-known in the heritage and cultural sector.

Her credits include work at Bolton Abbey, Clumber Park, The Borrowers Heritage Centre and the London Transport Museum.

Caroline’s designs were then brought to life by well-known sculptor Christopher Kelly, also from Yorkshire, who has produced work for theatre, television and museums, including set designs and public sculptures.

Working on the three inch high mice was one of his smallest-sized commissions, as in the past his name has been known for the statue of Edward I at Burgh by Sands in Cumbria, a shark for The Deep aquarium in Hull and the figure of the late footballer Emlyn Hughes at Barrow-in Furness.

Caroline said: “I loved working on the development of Finlay. He is such a happy character with great educational potential.

“It is always great fun to work on designs and projects for children, especially where those designs can cut across traditional museum audience groups.

“Children don’t always appreciate the benefit and importance of heritage so it is a challenge to design ‘child-friendly’ elements into a museum environment.

“Finlay puts that bit of extra child-friendly spark in to what is already a broad and appealing collection.

“I hope Finlay will prove to be a memorable feature with which young children, and more than a few adults, will be able to identify.”

The cheeky little mouse is named after the grandson of volunteer Hilary Waugh and children will be able to read his ‘fabulous facts’ on the museum’s new panels telling the history of Alnwick and district.

A highlight for younger visitors will be a peek into a mouse schoolroom where Finlay and his family will be learning their history.

Trustee Jane Nolan added: “We know our younger visitors are going to love Finlay. He is full of fun and he knows a lot of interesting things that will surprise you.

“We think that discovering his little classroom will be a high point for families.”

Christopher has also created the museum’s models of a Victorian schoolmistress in a classroom, and the 19th Century printmaker William Davison, whose face has been replaced with that of Adrian Ions, a founder trustee at Bailiffgate.

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