21st Sep2021

Review: National Film and Sci-Fi Museum

by Ian Wells

The National Film & Sci-Fi Museum opened its doors this August and I finally got around to visiting this weekend. The museum is located in Milton Keynes, right in the town centre. I still can’t believe the town where I was born and live is the home of the national anything. Let alone something I have an interest in!

It is good to see both a use of a space that was otherwise going to ruin and a new business venture coming to life during the pandemic. Before going into detail I can safely say the museum is well worth the price of admission. Being ‘film & sci-fi’ makes it much more encompassing of what is on display. I would be the first person to admit there are parts of sci-fi I just have no time for, so this was of benefit to me. Currently there are a lot of franchises represented with some maybe only have 1 or 2 items. James Bond, Stargate, Star Trek, Dr Who, Jaws and Flash Gordon shows a quick glimpse of the scope of what is on offer. But you get the feeling already the space is ready to evolve and expand. One minor quibble is that where there were mutlitple movies sharing a display case of smaller items, not everything was currently labelled. For example there was a lablled costume from Starship Troopers next to an army uniform and rifle I deduced to be from Apocalypse Now.

I really liked the attention to detail within the exhibition space. The spaces inbetween displays were such you felt like you were on the set of a sci-fi movie. Things like having random munitions crates for example hiding a speaker playing music from a certain movie made it more like you were feeling the exhibits rather than just looking at them. It is hard to describe when you re looking at the Arc of the Covenant from ‘Raiders’ or the cup of Christ from ‘Last Crusade’ with John Williams score playing is a hair standing on the back of your neck moment. Never has Indy’s own proclamation “It belongs in a museum.” felt more apt. Another drawback I found was the prohibiting of taking photos. The last two exhibitions I went to were free for alls. But I can understand why each museum has its own rules and the reasons behind it. That said there are at the moment three displays that did allow photo ops… Spoilers… a Ludo (Labyrinth) full sized puppet, a Sully (Monsters Inc) full sized replica and the TARDIS computer (Doctor Who). There were things I would have loved to have photographed. For example some Batman ’89 story boards and some foreign Alien movie posters that made American posters looks so dull and boring. Being a comics fan there was an amazing Howard Chaykin Star Wars poster!

I had stayed off of their social media in the lead up to my visit so as not to spoil anything I might see. Of course there are items from the likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and  Ghostbusters that are going to draw a certain response. For me some of the biggest nostaglia hits came from turning a corner and seeing some Gerry Anderson related props. Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90 were all big, early pop culture reference points for me and I never tire at seeing the attention to detail in the models that went into their creation. Jaws is another major reference point for me and again on the subject of models with amazing attention to detail there were scale models of both ‘Bruce’ the shark and the Orca. I could have spent hours pourig over the detailing. Every inch you looked over you spotted something new, it ws unreal. Then there were odd things that brought a certain enjoyment to see. I had only watch Highlander for the first time ever about a month ago. They had Conner McClouds sword! There were some costumes from The Addams Family. Seeing Wednesday’s costume made me feel old, as I was questioning “Was Christina Ricci really that little when the movie came out?”

Of course Star Wars had a big presence with in the museum. I went to a Star Wars exhibition a few years back and was fortunate enough to see a lot of cool pieces. While the Star Wars section doesn’t compare to the size of the one I saw at the O2 there are still a lot of cool pieces of display. Seeing a full size Han Solo in carbonite is still a shockingly cool thing to see! It really does stop you in your tracks as you turn and see it. Star Wars has such a rich mythology of background characters that you can dig deep and still have items on display with a high recognition factor. You could argue it is more appealing seeing a Greedo or Bosskk masks over Luke or Vader apparal everyday of the week. There was a huge section dedicated to the Star Wars toys. Again something I could have spent hours looking at. Seeing what bubbles were yellowing, looking at foreign variants on the packaging and looking at cardbacks that were unpunched. This was worth the price of admission alone in my opinion! When you think about it Star Wars toys are a big a apart of sci-fi culture as the movies themselves. It was really fun as the display was in order of the first three movies release.


Tickets are £12 for adults, £7 for children over 5, £10 for over 65s and family tickets for £35 are available. Once you get your wristband you can come in and out as you please between the opening hours of 10am and 5pm. Being right near the town centre there are plenty of places to eat and if you want to make a day or weekend of it, it is right next door to the shopping centre. Also within the same complex is the new retro arcade the Pixel Bunker. There is a shop within the museum also. As the organiziers of the museum also have a hand in running the Showmasters events alot of the merchandise is signed so is rather on the pricey side. Obviously if that is your thing it could be a gold mine of something you been looking for or never knew you wanted.

Final Thoughts

All in all a good day out. I spent just over 2 hours on 2 laps of the exhibition. I would recommend going now, but I get the impression the venue is only going to go from strength to strength. On the website there is talk of future talks and events so it might be worth signing up to the newsletter if that sort of thing is of interest to you.

The National Film & Sci-Fi Museum is located at 34 Secklow Gate West, Milton Keynes, MK9 3AT. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram


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