LOCAL families are in for a whale of a time at the Scottish Maritime Museum this summer.

From July 2 to October 18, the award-winning Irvine museum is set to welcome visitors to its largest programme of exhibitions and events since the start of the pandemic.

The jam-packed ‘Come and Sea Us’ programme will feature sea monsters, mermaids and fun activities for all ages.

It has been made possible by the support of the Museum and Galleries Scotland Recovery Fund.

Senior curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Abigail McIntyre, said the fund has allowed the museum to take their events programme to a “whole new level”.its

The summer programme will centre around an incredible ‘Sea Monsters!’ exhibition as well as two festival events during July.

On Saturday, July 2 the first festival event will take place – marking the opening day of ‘Sea Monsters!’ and will feature sea monster surprises and traditional funfair stalls across the museum courtyard.

A second family event will take place during the Making Waves festival on Irvine Harbourside and Beach Park on the weekend of July 23 and 24.

In addition to enjoying the ‘Sea Monsters!’ exhibition and the museum’s national collections of maritime heritage and art, visitors can also take part in arts award family days, sketching, storytelling, music, poetry and performance art workshops.

Special screenings of sea monster-themed films will run on a six-metre high Airscreen throughout the summer.

The Museum and Galleries Scotland Recovery Fund money has enabled the museum to take on two play officers for July and August.

They will lead Magic Carpet storytelling and singing sessions for under-fives and their carers, ‘Make and Take’ craft sessions for older children and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) activities and workshops for all.

CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, Lucy Casot, said: “We’re delighted to support the Scottish Maritime Museum through the Museums Recovery Fund, made available by the Scottish Government, to continue adapting in response to the challenges and opportunities brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is vital that we support the financial resilience of museums and galleries so that they can move forward as fun and inspiring spaces for their communities.”

The ‘Sea Monsters!’ will feature Scotland’s most famous mysterious sea creature – the Loch Ness Monster, and allow visitors to explore platysaurus fossils, a shark’s jaw and wet specimens on loan from The Huntarian at the University of Glasgow.

Visitors can also ponder on the ‘Sea Monk’ half man, half fish ‘monster’ that appeared in naturalist reports across Europe during the 16th century.

Art on show will include sculptor Andy Scott’s early sketches of his 30-metre high Kelpies and two of his three-metre high steel scale models or ‘maquettes’.

Other highlights of ‘Sea Monsters!’ will include original artwork from French-born and now Glasgow-based illustrator and designer Axel Gutapfel and Irvine artist Maree Hughes’ interpretation of the legend of the Selkies or ‘seal people’ from the Northern Isles.

To find out more, visit: www.scottishmaritimemuseum.org.