Easter activities at Huntingdon’s Cromwell Museum including portrait painting and exhibition

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While Oliver Cromwell may have a dour reputation, the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon is offering a range of fun activities for all ages during the rest of the Easter holidays. They include online talks, an art workshop for families and the last chance to see the museum’s current display on the 1600s navy.

The Cromwell Museum holds the biggest collection of objects relating to the life and times of Oliver Cromwell on public display in the world. It comprises nearly 700 items, including portraits, clothing, miniatures, arms and armour, historical documents written by or about Cromwell – and one of his death masks.

Stuart Orme, curator of the Cromwell Museum said: “With the school holidays in full swing, we know that lots of families are looking for things to do. This is a great chance for visitors to find out more about some of these astonishing objects – or simply have a go at some fun activities!”

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Portrait painting

On Thursday, April 14 there is a chance for families to join museum staff to learn how to paint a portrait, based on the historic civil war portraits in the Cromwell Museum’s collection – whether it’s a Royalist or a Parliamentarian. The workshop is suitable for all levels of experience and will be led by Peterborough artist Tony Nero.

The workshop is free of charge and runs from 11am to 3pm, with no need to book, just come along on the day.

Online talk about portraits of Cromwell

To tie in with the BBC’s ‘Art That Made Us’ series, the Cromwell Museum is also offering the first of two free online talks relating to the nationally important paintings in its collections. On Monday, April 18 at 6.30pm there will be a free online webcast ‘Warts and All: Portraits of Cromwell’, looking at the iconic paintings with the museum’s curator.

Cromwell is one of the most significant, controversial, and well-known figures in British history, with portraits of him rendered by some of the best known and most skilled artists of the mid-1600s – but what do his portraits really tell us about him? Places for this talk can be booked online at www.cromwellmuseum.org.

Navy exhibition

There is also a final opportunity to explore the development of the Navy in the 1600s and the role of three men from Huntingdon in its development with the ‘Cromwell’s Navy’ exhibit, which runs until April 23. Among the exhibits are remarkable artefacts recently recovered from the wreck of the ‘London’, one of Cromwell’s ships that sank off Southend and is being excavated in a feat of nautical archaeology akin to that of the ‘Mary Rose’.

Another is a huge scale model of the warship Naseby, recently acquired by the Cromwell Museum after being donated by the family of a professional prop maker, who made items for ‘Star Wars’ and the Muppets films.

The museum is in the former Huntingdon Grammar School building, which was where Oliver Cromwell went to school. It is open 11am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday and Easter Monday (closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday).

Admission is free of charge although donations are welcomed. For more details on the Easter activities visit the museum’s website at: www.cromwellmuseum.org

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