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The brand-new Spitfire Gallery at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery is now open. It tells the story of Spitfire designer Reginald Mitchell, a one-time local schoolboy who went on to become one of the greatest aeroplane designers of his generation.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is the recently restored Spitfire RW388, returned to its former glory thanks to the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society.
Visitors can walk around the iconic aircraft and also check it out from the gallery’s mezzanine level, which provides great views out across the city. Get close enough to the Spitfire and you’ll be able to peek inside its newly kitted-out cockpit, which features both genuine and replica parts.
A ‘flypast’ experience brings the gallery to life with the sights and sounds of Spitfires in flight.
Interactive exhibits and a regular programme of events aims to inspire younger visitors to follow in Mitchell’s footsteps and become the engineers and designers of the future.
There’s also a mezzanine exhibition of artefacts and personal stories, highlighting the impact of the Second World War on North Staffordshire. The exhibition takes visitors through Reginald Mitchell’s ‘journey to the Spitfire’ and tells how the aircraft evolved during the war. Featured objects include an aircraft propeller and a stained glass window dedicated to Mitchell’s memory. His high-school chemistry book is also available to view, as are a series of loans from the Mitchell family.
Also on display in the gallery are two works by paper-sculptor Suhail Shaik. These represent the partnership of the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, which fought off the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. The sculptures are made entirely from paper, cut and glued by hand, and are inspired by intricate technical drawings.
Interactive touchscreens allow visitors to explore objects in the museum collections. The objects have been 3D-scanned in partnership with Staffordshire University.
A second screen triggers a presentation of archive footage and cutting-edge animation to bring the story of the Spitfire to life.
When you’re done exploring the exhibits, you can check out the newly refurbished - and renamed - Violet’s Café. Dedicated to pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, the cafe offers a unique view while you relax and enjoy a coffee.
The Spitfire Gallery is at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. The museum is open Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 11am to 4pm. Admission is FREE
Find out more at stokemuseums.org.uk
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