CHRISTMAS shoppers will be able to take in a little culture with the opening of a mobile museum on Teesside.

The Curiosity Shop opened its doors in Middlesbrough town centre on Saturday, after eight months of touring the Tees Valley.

Packed with weird and wonderful items on loan from local museums, the exhibition has been set up in a succession of empty shops to bring the magic of museums closer to people's lives.

At the weekend, it set up in the Dundas Arcade, next to the Traidcraft shop, and will stay there until Saturday, December 17, when it will come to the end of its tour.

Included in the displays is a furry fish, polar bear and the world's smallest cat and dog. There are also interactive displays and information about events at local museums.

Led by Hartlepool Museum Service, the shop is funded by Renaissance in the Regions, a Government scheme to create new ways for people to enjoy their local museums.

Colin Reid, Hartlepool Borough Council's acting cultural heritage and grants officer, said: "We're very happy that the Curiosity Shop is visiting Middlesbrough. This is the last stop in the tour, which has been more successful than we could ever have dreamed of, with more than 120,000 visitors in eight months."

Godfrey Worsdale, Middlesbrough council's director of museums and galleries, said: "The Curiosity Shop is all about breaking down barriers and persuading people to give the region's museums and galleries a go.

"I hope that visitors to the Curiosity Shop will go on to experience the full range of fascinating exhibits we have at both the Dorman Museum and the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum."

The Curiosity Shop is open from 9.30am to 5pm each day and entry is free.