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Interpretive Exhibitions

The Museum’s main exhibition area is housed in what is known as the Rolfe Street Building. This impressive new complex also provides educational and conference facilities, visitor amenities, specialist museum stores, and a library and archive resource centre (open by appointment). The exhibition galleries sit within the lofty structure of the pool halls where the original spectacular cast iron arches support the vast roof which once spanned the swimming pools. The impressive moulded terracotta façade provides specialist storage facilities for the dedicated archive centre.

The modern glazed entrance leads visitors into the ‘Hall of Fame’ where they are introduced to the famous names associated with the Black Country, from current celebrities such as comedy stars Julie Walters, Lenny Henry, and Frank Skinner to earlier personalities including Billy Dainty, Sister Dora, Eliza Tinsley and Dud Dudley.

An introductory video presents a stimulating debate about where the Black Country really is and provides a fascinating and amusing introduction to the history of the Black Country and its people.

In the exhibition galleries visitors are introduced to the unique character and complex nature of the four Black Country boroughs. Graphic presentations develop the idea of the ‘endless village’ of many communities each boasting a particular manufacturing skill for which they were internationally renowned. These four display areas and study zones illustrate the strong local connections and characteristic pride of each individual community.

The region is brought together in a dramatic central display of objects and iconographic images in a visual extravaganza through which visitors can discover the vast range of products, skills, industries and activities for which the Black Country became famous as the ‘workshop of the world’.

Local people have helped to gather information for these displays and the publicly accessible Museum database enables more information to be added to our knowledge bank as it becomes available and enhances visitor access to the Museum’s reserve collections.

In Rolfe Street, through interactive displays, visitors are able to discover the rich diversity of the region before starting their tour of the Open Air Museum site where costumed demonstrators in historic buildings encourage visitors to experience how people really lived and worked in the Black Country at the turn of the last century.

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