Yesterday I went to visit The Public as a punter for the first time. I say as a punter because we first moved up to the area in 2003 when my wife got a job there, and then I ended up working for them for a short while too, part time – so that's my interest declared. Mind you, that was long before the building was finished, and long, long before it opened, and even longer before the interactive exhibits became operational at some level.Some facts:
- it's free, including the interactive exhibits
- the site points out to see the interactive exhibit without it being a part of a booked or guided tour, you're best going Friday, Saturday or Sunday
- park at B and Q in the centre of West Brom, it's about 80p for 2 hours, which is enough
I think what made it for me was going with my 11 month old son and two friends and realising that to a level, it does deliver something quite satisfying for 'people' if not for the arts mafiosi. Which is what it should do. It's a big space, engaging, architecturally striking for the area (on the inside and the outside) and properly feels like an attraction.
However as you walk around it does feel a bit empty, of people and exhibits. It feels like there are lots of gaps, although Joseph loved the massive spaces and slidey wooden floor to crawl on. The downwards ramp around the edge of the building was quite fun for him.
It's also a little hard to fathom. On entering (Saturday afternoon, 2pm) there was no one to meet or guide us, and even though we knew what to expect, it would have been nice to have this. I can imagine locals in West Brom coming into the building, standing inside the door for a ??couple of minutes, and with no other guidance, leaving again.
But the overall impression was good, and I urge others to go and see it for themselves. There were plenty of 'local people' around the building, engaging and having fun. The interactive drawing exhibits were particularly well ??done – technical but simple and immediately obvious to anyone trying it. Anyway like I say, get down there and see ??for yourself.
So what did I think?