Hull 2017 UK City of Culture : Bill Bailey’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Our first port of call of arrival in Hull was the newly reopened and freshly renovated Ferens Art Gallery. After coffee we visited each gallery but no photography is allowed. There’s a very good permanent collection for a provincial gallery, the Freud, Mueck, Tunick SKIN show had us mesmerised (I’d seen Muick’s Wild Man at Belsay Hall in 2010 as part of the Extraordinary Measures show) and my favourite display was Rembrandt’s The Shipbuilder and his Wife and related paintings. The Rembrandt lent by Her Majesty The Queen. Masterpieces from the Royal Collection will see five exceptional works of art travel from Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace between 2017 and 2021 as part of a five-year partnership between the Royal Collection Trust and Ferens Art Gallery. I hope I am able to revisit during this time to see more.

Across Queen’s Square from Ferens Art Gallery is the Hull Maritime Museum. Kingston Upon Hull, to give the city its full name, has always been associated with seafaring with its docks and ferry port and former major fishing industry. So, naturally it has a very interesting Maritime Museum. One of its major displays centres on the creation, by TV personality Bill Bailey and a selection of local schoolchildren, of a life size Cabinet of Curiosities.

Bill Bailey’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Saturday 27 May 2017 – Sunday 10 September 2017

Discover amazing untruths about the weirdest things in historic collections. This exhibition draws on the comedy writing talents of Hull’s youngsters and one of Britain’s best loved comedians, Bill Bailey.

Produced with the Burton Constable Hall Foundation. Curious Collections project supported by the National lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.




william constable

Burton Constable

Some of the curiosities were from the Maritime Museum collection and some from nearby Burton Constable. Here are some which took my eye.

whalebone seat

Nineteenth century whalebone bench made from whale ribs, vertebrae, spinal discs and timber.

Figurehead from the Transatlantic paddle steamer Sirius c1837. Sirius was the first ship to cross the Atlantic solely under the power of steam. Also a python skeleton and a European spider crab.


I think the kiddies (and Bill) had a lot of fun making up descriptions of the strange and wonderful artefacts and learnt much from the revelation of the true facts behind each.

And now Burton Constable Hall is on my list of ‘must visits’.

I also noted within the permanent galleries that Hull was formerly a member of the Hanseatic League

My’ area shown on the map


3 comments on “Hull 2017 UK City of Culture : Bill Bailey’s Cabinet of Curiosities

  1. Tory says:

    This was a great read. I live in Hull and haven’t been to this exhibition yet; you’ve inspired me!

  2. […] The City has had a changing programme of events throughout the year and I was lucky to catch a day full back in August. […]

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