Age when visited: 8 weeks old
Due to the museum part of the building undergoing renovation and being members of a different library this post will focus mainly on the aquarium. Once the museum is open it will house an Egyptian and botany collection, as well as fine art, deco
rative art and local history displays. We will definitely be returning in the October half term to see what it has to offer. We mainly decided to visit this aquarium as we thought it would be a nice introduction for Ralph and meant we wouldn’t be wasting money on an expensive day out, which he wasn’t able to fully take in.
The aquarium, which is located in the basement of the library, is a wonderful place for little minds to explore and provides a lovely sensory experience. The aquarium has been open since 1941 and according to staff very little has changed, apart from the ever growing fish collection. The aquarium has grown from only British fish to fish from all over the world but all are fresh water fish, which provides something different from your usual aquarium. Each tank is labelled and has the country of origin above with a couple of facts, which include: Peru, Nurma, Borneo, Vietnam, Africa, Brazil and many more. A few of the fact boards have unfortunately been damaged. Something I found really interesting was reading how long these particular fish had been at Bolton Aquarium.
Though the aquarium is small it is quaint and an enjoyable visit especially for little ones. The layout is simple with tanks around the perimeter and a couple of interesting display cases in the middle. There is lots of room for multiple prams and visitors. Access at the minute is difficult due to the ongoing renovation project, meaning the main lift is out of action. If you ask a member of staff they will allow you to use the staff lift.
All the staff we encountered were extremely helpful and passionate about the museum and aquarium. They were all very knowledgeable and enjoyed discussing the history of the building and informing you of the different activities they offer. During half terms there are a number of extra children’s activities and have a daily fish feed. The time of these activities change depending on the half term but more details can be found on their website.
Even though, this isn’t the biggest aquarium nor does it have the most extensive collection it is still worth a trip. Ralph loved watching the fish swim around, especially the sting rays. Not only does it generate a different conversation with your little one, it provides an alternative sensory experience. Once the museum is open you would easily be able to spend a morning or afternoon if you took your time.
Let me know in the comments if you have visited Bolton Aquarium, Museum and Library or let me know of any other museums and aquariums you have discovered.