Magical Middle-Earth Exhibition Attracts Thousands of Visitors

16th November 2023

Thousands of museum visitors in Barnsley have been transported to a magical world inspired by Tolkien over recent weeks, providing a footfall boost in the town centre. 

The Magic of Middle-earth exhibition can be seen at Experience Barnsley – the award-winning museum hosted in Barnsley’s Town Hall. 

The free exhibition is dedicated to the incredible work of J.R.R Tolkien and the generations of writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, environmentalists, creators and game designers he influenced.

It presents a magical treasure trove of over 200 unique objects and artworks inspired by ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, including a rare first-edition copy of the latter from 1937. Dramatic models and dioramas, concept artwork, LEGO sets, memorabilia and prop replicas are also available for visitors to see.

Having been open to the public for just over a month, the Magic of Middle-earth, which runs until 6 April, has already brought a staggering 10,000 visitors to the museum. 

As Barnsley town centre prepares for the Bright Nights Festival later this month, Experience Barnsley will be adding some of its Middle-earth magic to this year’s winter festivities. 

A model of Gollum will be available to view in the phone box opposite the Town Hall, where a ring-of-power trail will also be found for families to take part in. 

On top of this, Experience Barnsley will play host to free, drop-in, dragon egg and wand-making workshops on until 8.30pm, on both 24 and 25 November. 

Meanwhile, sticking with The Lord of the Rings theme, children can create their very own ‘Bright Eye’ colour spinner at another free drop-in at The Cooper Gallery, also on until 8.30pm, on both 24 and 25 November. 

Other highlights of this year’s Bright Nights event include the Christmas Lights Switch on in the Glass Works Square on Friday 24th @ 6pm, the Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary’s Church, Blackpool Illuminations in the Alhambra shopping centre and the Illuminated parade from Mandela Gardens to the Glass Works Square on Saturday 25th @ 6pm.

To find out more about the Bright Nights events, visit:   

Barnsley Bright Nights

Councillor Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: said: “We’re overwhelmed by the reaction the Magic of Middle-earth exhibition has had so far, and we can’t wait to celebrate it even more during Bright Nights.

“Being part of the Bright Nights Festival and celebrating the successes in our town centre is exactly the spirit of Experience Barnsley. The event brings people from all over the region to celebrate and support our fantastic local attractions, increasing footfall, whilst creating a really lovely atmosphere in the build up to the holiday period.

“We can’t wait!”

Experience Barnsley is a space for the community, bringing people together and their work, which spans exhibitions in the space, an extensive outreach programme and multiple community groups.

While the museum has only been welcoming visitors for 10 years, the objects, photos, documents, films, and stories it houses have been collated and collected over a much longer period. 

The Magic of Middle-earth sits alongside other free exhibitions in the town centre including the Cooper Prize 2023, currently on display in the Cooper Gallery just minutes away from Experience Barnsley Museum.  The exhibition celebrates local artists and the work they submitted to the Cooper Prize which includes many different mediums and styles.

See What’s On at Experience Barnsley now:

Magical Middle-Earth Exhibition Attracts Thousands of Visitors