Blackpool’s first ever museum ‘Showtown’ officially opens to the public! 🎪

Showtown, Blackpool’s first ever museum, telling the extraordinary stories of the UK’s first mass seaside resort and its unrivalled role in the development of British popular entertainment, has officially opened its doors to the public today.

Celebrating the town, its social history and the performers who make it sparkle, it offers visitors an immersive experience, using a superb collection of objects, ephemera and stories from the Blackpool Council collections, 27 loaned objects from the V&A and rarely shown items from the performers themselves.

Divided into six gallery spaces over 1000 sq m, Showtown explores the elements that make Blackpool so special: Seaside, Magic, Circus, Illuminations, Shows and Dance.

The museum is full of fun, taking visitors behind the scenes and offering them the opportunity to have a go: taking their place on the promenade or performing a Punch and Judy show, magic tricks, circus skills, dressing up, producing a show, lighting the Illuminations, or dancing the Blackpool Way. This is a museum not just to be seen, but to be experienced close up.

Image courtesy of Casson Mann and Showtown Blackpool ©Hufton+Crow

Showtown offers interactive games, audio visual prompts, music and laughter, encouraging the people who visit to play, explore and learn more about Blackpool and its people. Each of the galleries is a mixture of objects, including original costumes, props, puppets, posters, programmes, disco booths and dance floors.

In each gallery the visitor will hear the words of entertainers (real and imagined) through the museum’s audio-visual displays, giving behind the scenes hints, tips and gossip. Their tales offer a glimpse behind the curtain into the world of show business. A radio and TV script writer has given each exhibition space its own voice, bringing to life the stories featured throughout the museum.

Showtown is a collaboration between researchers, museum designers Casson Mann, and curators, co-designed with the people and performers of Blackpool.

Image courtesy of Casson Mann and Showtown Blackpool ©Hufton+Crow

The V&A has also been working in collaboration with Blackpool Council for nearly ten years with a commitment to making the V&A’s collections accessible to audiences in and around Blackpool.

The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund has supported Showtown to acquire Peter Kay’s famous purple suit worn by the comedian in the video for the 2005 Comic Relief single ‘(Is this the way to) Amarillo’ and the late Sir Norman Wisdom’s ‘Gump’ suit.

Showtown is part of a wider regeneration programme for Blackpool which will see investment in infrastructure, accommodation and other improvements in the town. It will offer a brand new visitor experience and provide jobs and a significant boost to tourist numbers and economic growth.

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