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Canterbury: The Beaney holds a free family fun day to mark five years since it reopened after a major revamp

By Angela Cole

Five years ago, a revitalised Beaney House of Art & Knowledge reopened its doors after an ambitious £14.2m redevelopment project.

Since then more than two million visitors – and more than 600,000 children – have been welcomed in, enticed by world class exhibitions, unique collections, heritage and culture.

After being a finalist in the Art Fund Museum of the Year Awards in 2013, and now listed as one of the most visited free attractions in the South East, the Beaney is now set to celebrate its fifth birthday with a special day of free family activities on Saturday, September 16.

The Beaney, Canterbury

A packed programme will include craft workshops, tours, musical and dance performances and the return of the popular Stormtroopers, last at the Beaney in December 2015 for the opening of a Star Wars memorabilia exhibition.

New displays will also be unveiled in the People and Places and Explorers and Collectors galleries, including Canterbury’s most famous cat – Bagpuss – along with the Clangers, Rupert Bear and the Canterbury Cross, recently named one of the 100 objects that made Kent.

Canterbury's own Bagpuss

Visitors will also have the opportunity to buy a limited edition Beaney print, created specially for the birthday celebrations by artist Hugh Ribbans.

Canterbury City Council’s director of museums and galleries, Jo Jones, said: “We are delighted to be marking five years of the new and revitalised Beaney and have a great programme planned for the birthday event.

Stormtroopers will return to The Beaney to mark the fifth anniversary since its reopening

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate the Beaney’s achievements, thank our visitors for their support and look ahead to the exciting plans we have for the future.” The Beaney has been awarded National Portfolio Organisation status as part of the Kent and Medway Museums Partnership which will provide four years of funding, which will allow for the museum to build on its health and wellbeing work.

Other plans include a new family gallery and a Ladybird Books exhibition next year. There will also be a major exhibition for Becket 2020, a city-wide programme marking the 800th anniversary of Becket’s translation to a new shrine at Canterbury Cathedral.


The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge Fifth Birthday will be held in High Street, Canterbury, from 11am to 4pm. For more information go to thebeaney.co.uk


Through the day, there will be everything from performances and displays to storytelling and hands-on sessions with actual artefacts.

The original Clangers series was filmed near Canterbury and first broadcast in 1969

Five Case Tour

11.15am and 3.45pm
Join the collections team as they share their top five objects at the Beaney. Free but to book a place email beaneybookings@canterbury.gov.uk or call 01227 862162.

Make a dragon or gargoyle

1pm and 4pm at the Learning Lab
Make your very own dragon or gargoyle in a fun clay drop-in workshop inspired by the collections. Free – just drop in.

Object handling

12pm and 12.30pm at the Explorers and Collectors Gallery
A chance to handle five objects from Anglo-Saxon and Viking Canterbury being displayed in The Beaney for the first time. Free admission – just drop in.

Cabinet of Curiosities

11am and 3.30pm in the Garden Room
Explore the museum’s collection and find your favourite object, then recreate it and help make a large fantastical Cabinet of Curiosity. Free – just drop in.

There will be lots of free family events as part of The Beaney's fifth birthday bash

Sing with St Stephens

3pm at the Explorers and Collectors Gallery
Drop in for a lively performance from the St Stephens Junior School Choir, including Happy Birthday!

Return of the Stormtroopers

11am to 4pm, at various galleries
The Star Wars Stormtroopers are back patrolling. Make sure you catch them for a selfie!

Beaney Birthday Storytime

11am in the Library
Enjoy free birthday themed stories for the Beaney’s fifth birthday. Suitable for ages three to seven.

There is much to see at The Beaney in Canterbury

Kent Printmakers

10am to 5pm in the Front Room
See the limited edition print by Hugh Ribbans specially commissioned for the Beaney Birthday and the film of him making it and talking about the process. Free admission, drop in.

Drawn to Light: The Hidden Cathedral

10am to 5pm, exhibition in the Drawing Room
Stained-glass artist, Grace Ayson, displays drawings exploring Canterbury Cathedral’s hidden spaces. Free admission.

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