Museum open for babies

YOUNGSTERS are being encouraged to get involved with culture in Hartlepool – before they reach their first birthday!

A new pilot project in the town hopes to encourage youngsters under 12 months to explore the sights and sounds of the town’s art gallery and museum.

Over the next four weeks, Hartlepool Borough Council’s cultural services learning team is running sessions on Tuesday afternoons from 1pm-2pm aimed at babies and their parents/carers who attend the Rossmere and Rift House Sure Start Children’s Centres.

The first session is on Tuesday, in the Museum of Hartlepool at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience. The other three will be either at the museum or at Hartlepool Art Gallery in Church Square.

Themes of the sessions will include toys and games from the past, seaside boats, and making hand and footprints in clay.

The emphasis will be on giving the youngsters a real sensory experience of sights, sounds, colours and textures.

There will also be a photo quiz for the mums and dads.

Joanne Salway, education officer for the council’s cultural services team, said: “If the pilot is a success we would like to expand the scheme across the town.”

The sessions are free but places must be booked in advance by calling the council on (01429) 523451 or email

“With their huge range of sights and sounds, the museum and art gallery are really stimulating environments for babies and we hope that that will develop into a lifelong love of museums and galleries as the youngsters grow up.

“The sessions are also a great opportunity for parents to explore all that we have to offer – the museum and art gallery are great places for family trips out and both have their own on-site cafes for when you feel like a tasty snack and a break.