Frankenstein museum bath

Mary Shelley Frankenstein Museum plans for Bath

3 June 2020

A brand new museum celebrating the life and work of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley could be coming to Bath, becoming the UK’s first Frankenstein museum. 

Bath has a strong literary claim to fame in 19th century novelist Jane Austen, who lived in Bath for a time and used the city as a setting for two of her novels. Thousands of visitors a year flock to the Jane Austen Centre on Gay Street, and there’s even an annual Jane Austen Festival held in September. In 2020, it will be the 20th anniversary of the festival. 

But Austen isn’t the only author with a connection to Bath. Not many people are aware that Mary Shelley not only lived in the city, but also wrote most of Frankenstein while she was a Bath resident. She lived at 5 Abbey Church for two years under the name of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, working on the novel in 1816-17, before it was published in 1918. Frankenstein is widely regarded as the world’s first science fiction novel. 

To celebrate the creation of Frankenstein in Bath, Bath Attractions has submitted a planning application to create ‘Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein’. The intended site is Grade II listed building on Gay Street, a five-storey office space. It’s just a few doors up from the Jane Austen Centre, and the briefest of strolls from both our Queen’s View and King’s Circus apartments. 

What can visitors expect? 

According to the planning documents, the museum will house a permanent exhibition focusing on Shelley’s life and work. This will of course include her most famous novel. The story of Shelley’s difficult upbringing, personal tragedies and relationship with romantic poet Percy Shelley, as well as the conception, writing and publication of Frankenstein, will be told through fascinating multimedia exhibitions. Visitors can expect period costumes, original letters, video and information boards, drawings, family trees and much more. 

The museum also sounds as if it’ll be more tech than its neighbour, the Jane Austen Centre, just down the road. The creative team at Bath Attractions are hoping to bring Frankenstein to life with stunning life-size models and prosthetics, special effects and interactive horror scenes. The entrance of the five-storey museum will be dominated by a life-size model of ‘the monster’ of the book. 

On the planning application, organisers explain how they will ‘set the scene’ for visitors, using:

“…low ominous ambient music, temperature control, lighting, video projections, strategic use of fog and wind machines, illusions, holusions, magic tricks, prosthetics, pseudo-paranormal activity and live performers”.

When will the Bath Frankenstein Museum be open? 

The plans for the UK’s first Frankenstein Museum in Bath sound utterly thrilling, but when will the first visitors be allowed through the door. It all depends on Bath and North East Somerset Council making a decision on whether or not to approve the planning application, which they originally pledged to do by June 2020. 

Under normal circumstances, the museum could be open later this year. But even if the application is approved, the global coronavirus pandemic is likely to cause delays. It may be little longer before you can visit this exciting new addition to Bath’s cultural scene, but it sounds like it’ll be worth the wait!

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