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9 More Interesting Museums Preserving British Heritage

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My last post highlighted seven museums dedicated to preserving some very specific aspects of British culture, like lawnmowers, Victorian toys, and witchcraft. But there are oh so many more and here are a few:

1. The Teddy Bear Museum, Dorchester, Dorset

Teddy bears tend to top lists of most collected items and, as anything with eyes en masse is creepy, I find teddy bear collections creepy. And this might be creepy. The Teddy Bear Museum bills itself as an "unmissable family museum," where every teddy "from the earliest teddies to today's TV favourites [are] all waiting to meet you." Who knows what they're about, these teddies? What do they want from us?

It gets creepier from here: The Teddy Bear Museum (and shop, of course) is actually the home of Mr. Edward Bear and his family, a collection of "human size teddy bears" who live in a quaint home on Antelope Walk in quaint Dorchester. These "human size" bears appear to be teddy bear heads affixed to mannequin bodies, and they're posed throughout their home in various attitudes of repose, industry, and domestic work. It is, the Teddy Bear House claims, "where fantasy becomes reality."

2. The Salt Museum, Northwich

Believe it or not, there has been a salt museum at Northwich for more than 100 years. The brainchild of two local salt proprietors who felt that some sort of official edifice was needed to highlight Northwich's importance as the "salt capital of the world." The standing exhibits in the museum include "Salt of the Earth," a visual exploration of the area's past as a major producer of salt, and "Made From Salt," an illuminating look at the 14,000 uses for salt.

3. The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

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It's absolutely astounding how influenced we all are by brands, how deeply packaging and advertising imagery has become embedded in our collective psyches. This particular museum explores that consumer culture through its collection of more than 12,000 original items of advertisement and packaging dating back to the Victorian era. The collection also includes other, often overlooked kinds of ephemera, such as penny toys, magazines, royal souvenirs, and comics.

4. The Cuckooland Museum, Cheshire

It's not exactly British history so much as Black Forest, German history, but the Cuckooland Museum in Cheshire is home to a large and highly regarded collection of rare and antique cuckoo clocks, as well as five fairground organs. This museum lives somewhere between very neat and intensely maddening "“ many of the clocks are in working order, which prompts the question, what is noon like around there?

5. The Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker, Hack Green, Cheshire

Strange secrets abound in sleepy villages in England "“ secrets like a vast underground complex built to house the government should World War III break out?

Originally used as a bombing decoy site, in 1941 Hack Green became an RAF station protecting the area between Birmingham and Liverpool from aerial attack using radar detection, a very new technology at the time. After World War II, it became part of the ROTOR program "“ Hack Green's radar defense system was re-outfitted with long-range radar technology in order to better deal with the threat of Soviet conventional and now, nuclear, attack. And then: The Cold War. Hack Green became a 35,000 square foot warren of blast-proof concrete government offices and food stores, prepared to become a center of regional government in the event of World War III.

Hack Green was declassified in 1993 and now it's open to the public (likely the non-claustrophobic public): Explore the labyrinthine passageways and corridors, visit the decontamination facilities, be a secret agent on the trail of a Soviet Spy, and finish up your visit with a trip to the Bunker Bistro for "survival rations."

6. Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Another underground museum, the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum is dedicated to preserving, well, the history of the telegraph in England. Back in the day, the Porthcurno telegraph station was the world's most important telegraph station, connected to more than 100,000 miles of cable to other such stations around the globe. The museum reveals the actually fascinating history of the transoceanic cables, including the ships that not only laid the cables, but which also raised them back up off the sea floor when they required repair, as well as exactly how telegraphs worked.

The telegraph station was moved underground in 1941, to protect it against enemy attack during World War II.

7. Cars of the Stars Museum, Keswick, Cumbria

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Consider it a bit like the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, but for cars. In 1989, car enthusiast, dentist, and artist Peter Nelson opened the Cars of the Stars Museum, a motorcar museum featuring only cars that have appeared in films and television shows. Each car is displayed in its own set, recreating the film or show that it appeared in "“ so, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (both the "hovercraft" version and the main road car) is presented against a painted backdrop of Bavarian mountains. The museum owns some serious cars from some seriously nostalgic movies and shows: several Batmobiles, including the original; the Munsters' Koach car from the television show; the Flintstones' car from the atrocious 1995 live-action film; a flux-capacitor equipped DeLorean that was used to promote the third Back to the Future movie; Mad Max's post-apocalyptic muscle car; Robocop's police car, the original used in all three movies; and even a Herbie the Lovebug.

8. The Bond Museum, Keswick, Cumbria

Britain takes Bond very seriously. As arguably the most macho and coolest export ever from a country often dogged by bumbling leading men (Hugh Grant, anyone?), James Bond is an international icon and a source of some major pride. So it makes absolute sense that there should be a museum dedicated to the man, the myth, the legend.

Peter Nelson, the same man behind the Cars of the Stars Museum, spent hundreds of thousands of pounds over 20 years to finally open the Bond Museum this April. The only one of its kind, the museum houses some of the most iconic pieces of Bond movie memorabilia: Starting with the cars, there's the Diamonds Are Forever Mustang, the Aston Martin V8 Volante used by Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, and the Lotus Esprit S1 used in The Spy Who Loved Me "“ both the car and the submarine-car. Then there's the Russian T55 battle tank used in the St. Petersburg chase scene in GoldenEye, the Fairey Huntress boat used in From Russia With Love, the Bede Aerostar mini jet from Octopussy, the actual golden gun from The Man With the Golden Gun, and the actual Q Boat from The World is Not Enough.

And for visitors, the museum is open "007 days a week."

9. The Fan Museum, Greenwich, London

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Fan Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to every aspect of fans and fan making. The museum, housed in two nearly 300-year-old historic homes in beautiful Greenwich, features more than 3500 fans, mostly antique, but spanning the centuries from the 11th century to present day. That a museum devoted to fans exists at all is to say that fans, of course, weren't just about keeping cool. Throughout the ages, fans have had ceremonial use, been part of the mythic landscape of gods and goddesses, and, as an art form, date back at least 3000 years. Victorian women used their fans to signal some un-Victorian sentiments; for example, a half-open fan pressed to the lips meant, "You may kiss me," while rapidly opening and closing a fan meant, "You're a jerk." Fans in the 18th century featured everything from instructions on how to play whist to details of Lord Nelson's victory on the Nile.

And these are all things I learned at the Fan Museum.

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10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
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In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

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Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

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In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

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Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
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If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

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