Museums are exciting places filled with new discoveries, mysteries and heartbreaking stories. They offer us opportunities to learn about our own and other cultures, a chance to step outside of the everyday and to reflect on the meaning of crumbling artifacts that have somehow survived against the odds.

I vividly remember my first visit to a gallery – a school trip to visit the Egyptian mummies at The Manchester Museum. The lights were dimmed to prevent damage to the sarcophagi and as we were ushered into the room the class fell silent. I had never seen a sight quite like it before and I was transfixed.

Years later, when I worked in a museum myself, I never tired of seeing the same surprised and bewildered expressions on the faces of school children standing in front of our Haitian voodoo altar or trying to figure out the meaning of our Nkisi figures. It’s always exciting to watch a child switch on to a new experience.

Yet despite all this, museums are all too often dismissed as irrelevant or boring. Visiting museums in Lancashire, I often find myself completely alone in a gallery, followed only by the glassy-eyed stare of a poorly stuffed badger.

Ticket prices probably don’t help. The average cost of a ticket to a museum in Lancashire is around £4 per adult, which although not a fortune, limits access.

It’s the difference between diving in and seeing an object of particular interest and having to trail around several hours worth of exhibitions in order to get your money’s worth – not always practical with a wriggly 18-month old. Add on the cost of a cup of tea, maybe a sandwich and it all starts to feel pretty expensive.

In times of austerity it’s often museums and galleries that feel the pinch first. Funding and donations dwindle and the curators are often faced with difficult decisions.

But it’s during times of austerity that the value of our heritage takes on even greater meaning. Never, has it been more important to instil in our children a sense of pride about their northern heritage.

The young victims of the recent austerity measures are all too often located in the north. Children from less well off backgrounds are written-off before their lives have really begun. Self esteem can dwindle which combined with a lack of expectation and role-modeling can have disastrous effects for a young person.

Yet galleries and their exhibitions have the potential to inspire our young. Who can fail to be impressed by Lancashire’s great tales of innovation and entrepreneurship that helped build the world’s largest cotton industry? And let’s not forget the lessons of camaraderie and sheer bloody-mindedness that we can take from the heroism of the Accrington Pals.

It’s important then,  that we instil within our children a sense of pride about their uniquely northern heritage, not simply to preserve their past, but to preserve and keep them fighting for their futures.

So go on, take your kids to a museum this weekend!