A colourful and exciting exhibition celebrating the life and times of Charles Dickens has opened at the Guildhall Museum.
A World Made Real: Dickens and Victorian Life charts some of the key themes that occur in Charles Dickens’ novels including travel, entertainment, education, crime and poverty, food and drink, death and mourning.
A reconstruction Victorian classroom occupies the centre of the exhibition gallery. Visitors should make sure they know their 12 times table before visiting the exhibition as well as the essentials of ‘good manners’.
Hundreds of evocative objects on display include a mantrap designed to maim poachers, a life preserver, workhouse rations, and one of the earliest known clockwork train sets to be preserved in a Kent museum.
A wide range of original Victorian objects from the museum collections illustrate these themes and show what inspired Dickens in his novels and writings.
The council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services Cllr Howard Doe, who officially opened the exhibition on Friday (8 June), said: “This delightful exhibition is the museum’s contribution to the 200th anniversary celebrations marking the birth of Charles Dickens.
“The author grew up in Chatham and was inspired by many of the scenes and events that he witnessed in Medway.
“This is an exhibition that will interest all age groups. There is something to interest everybody from the casual visitor to the Dickens expert.”
Pride of place in the exhibition goes to three first editions of Dickens’ novels that were presented by Charles Dickens to the Soldiers’ Institute in Brompton. These rare editions are on loan from the Royal Engineers Museum and Library in Gillingham.
Medway schools have worked with well-known musician Peter Cook to produce an innovative soundtrack backing to the exhibition. The varied soundtracks are directly inspired by Dickens’ novels and visitors can select a sound track via an electronic soundpost in the gallery.
Photographs of Charles Dickens and his family are displayed in the exhibition alongside portraits of Dickens and his family, which form part of the Guildhall Museum’s extensive collections.
A new computer CD Rom is available from the museum shop. Rochester: City of Charles Dickens is an assemblage of stunning photographs taken in and around Medway by photographer Graham Salter. All of the photographs depict places in Medway that are directly connected with Charles Dickens his novels and his writings. The written commentary that accompanies the photographs is by Charles Dickens himself.
A World Made Real: Dickens and Victorian Life is on display until February 2013.
Admission to the museum and exhibition is free.
The Guildhall Museum, High Street, Rochester is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm.
For more details visit http://www.guildhallmuseumrochester.co.uk or phone 01634 848717.

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