Hope in Hintze Hall

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: South Kensington (District & Circle, Piccadilly lines)

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One of the first things that hits you as you enter the newly-presented Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum is movement. ‘Hope’ the whale arches at the apex of her dive, drawing your eyes in a graceful curve from the tip of skeletal tail to iconic gaping mouth. Historically, museums were restrained to a furiously horizontal suspension. Hope reinvigorates this assumption, brushing aside the old restraints as she dives silently towards the crowds below. Continue reading

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From Selfie to Self-Expression

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: South Kensington, Circle and District Lines

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If there’s one thing people love, its themselves. The moment humankind found a suitable surface 30,000 years ago we have not stopped drawing, painting, and photographing our own image. Gods, monsters, predator and prey- all have been the subject of humanity’s artistry. Most alluringly though, we have forever sought to depict ourselves. From stiff militaristic portraits to bold exposures of vulnerability (perhaps merely two sides of the same narcissistic coin) we are desperate to understand ourselves through self-expression. Such a topic would self-evidently be too broad for one exhibition, and so this entertaining installation at the Saatchi Gallery cherry-picks some interesting juxtapositions, and current observations, to explore. Continue reading

Every Object Tells A Story

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: South Kensington

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The title of this exhibition, ‘Every Objects Tells A Story’, hangs somewhere between pretentious and redundant, and is all the more disappointing because of how good everything else about it is. That dealt with, I can begin my praise of this uniquely presented exhibition.

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Hunterian Museum

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: Holborn, Central Line

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As someone who works day-to-day with the dry, safe, non-organic collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, it was a considerable step outside of my comfort zone to visit the biological repository that is the Hunterian Museum. The museum, housed within the Royal College of Surgeons, holds around 3,500 ‘specimens’, which is a pleasant way of saying ‘dead things in jars’.

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St Katharine Docks

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: Tower Hill, District & Circle Line

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London is a port city. Had you forgotten? Because I had.
It is very easy to forget that the docks and wharves lining the Thames have not always been super-luxury apartments for the wealthy suits of the city. Indeed, with the eviction of most of London’s maritime trading to the far eastern end of the city, there is little evidence that the Thames still provides anything more than a neutered fairground ride for visiting tourists.

I would love to say that St Katharine Docks is an exception. It isn’t. But it does give an idea of how London’s industrial past can be gentrified in a manner that still allows it to be enjoyed by visitors. Continue reading

Bank of England Museum

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: Bank (ohsothatswhyitscalledthat), Central Line

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Yesterday I walked into the Bank of England and picked up a gold bar.

I was allowed to do this because, although they surround themselves with two-storey windowless walls, the Bank of England want you to come and visit. Continue reading

Guildhall Art Gallery

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: Bank, Central Line

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When I decided to visit the Guildhall Art Gallery on one overcast Sunday afternoon, I was expecting to find an enjoyable collection of renaissance views of the city skyline. What I was not expecting to discover was the site of a major Roman era London (Londinium back then) landmark. Continue reading