The UK’s first Frankenstein museum could open in Bath.
Plans are being drawn up for ‘Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein’ to celebrate the author’s “extraordinary life and her most lauded work” – much of which was penned in the city.
Bath Attractions Ltd are planning to convert Grade II-listed offices in Gay Street – a few doors up from the Jane Austen Centre – and hope it could open later this year.
The planning application says: “Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein is a new multi-sensory, fully immersive family-friendly visitor attraction proposed for the City of Bath, and the UK’s first attraction dedicated to Mary Shelley and her novel, Frankenstein, one of the world’s most famous, iconic and lauded creations.
“Exploring her complicated and tragic personal life, literary career and the novel’s continuing relevance today in regards to popular culture, politics and science, the attraction aims to deliver a sophisticated, entertaining and visceral experience like no other, and one which we hope the city of Bath can be proud of.”
The author’s links to Bath are commemorated on a plaque at the site of 5 Abbey Church Yard, where she took lodgings arriving in the city in September 1816, then named Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin.
It was there that she wrote much of Frankenstein, which was published anonymously in 1818 and is now regarded as the world’s first science fiction novel.
The plans add: “The main exhibits will include a permanent exhibition showcasing the life and work of Mary Shelley and her most famous novel, Frankenstein, comprising video and information boards, presenting her unhappy childhood, personal development, the conception, writing and publication of her book and tumultuous relationship with the romantic poet Percy Shelley, including period costumes, models, props, family tree, detailed chronology, graphic artwork and drawings, original letters and first edition books, etc.
“We will also feature the internationally recognised ‘brand’ Frankenstein in popular culture, including life-size models and prosthetics, make-up, props, theatrical set design, book covers, movie posters, photographs, lobby cards, scripts, toys and games, memorabilia, special effects, and fun interactive horror scenes, so visitors can shoot selfies to share online.
“Additionally, we will look at how the moral questions raised in Frankenstein continue to be relevant today in regards to political and scientific thinking in almost every corner of the world.”
Visitors will be greeted at the entrance to the museum by a life-size replica of ‘The Monster’.
The scene will be set 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”.
The five-storey museum will also have a gift shop, cafe and puzzle rooms and could create 14 jobs.
The application says: “This scheme is a tremendously exciting proposal that will breathe life back into a tired heritage asset building, with a new use that will embrace and enrich the cultural wellbeing of Bath.”
Bath and North East Somerset Council will decide the fate of the planning and listed building applications.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter