Wellington Arch

Adult Entry: £5
Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line)

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There is a road in London dissecting Green Park, confusingly named Constitution Hill. This is confusing because a) the road has no discernible rise, and b) Britain has no constitution. A quick search revealed that it was actually named because of King Charles II’s selection of this route for his ‘constitutional walks’. Presumably he referred to it as a hill to make these walks sound more impressive, and being king, no one dared contradict him. We’ve started with this London esoterica because of the destination that is the west terminal of Constitution Hill: the Wellington Arch. Originally intended to be a magnificent gateway into Buckingham Palace, the arch has had a tumultuous history resulting in revisions, statue changes, and even a wholescale relocation by a few hundred metres to make way for a bigger road. Continue reading

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Canaletto & The Art Of Venice, Queen’s Gallery

Adult Entry: £11
Nearest Tube: Victoria (District, Circle, and Victoria lines)

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If asked to name some of the great British collections of antiquities and art, you would probably start with the well-known national museums. What you probably wouldn’t start with, or indeed mention at all, is the Royal Collection. That’s right, the Queen has quite a collection of art and antiquities- she even has her own gallery. In fact, the Royal Collection includes some surprisingly famous pieces, for example the Crouching Aphrodite (Lely’s Venus); a star piece at the British Museum. Continue reading

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave

Adult Entry: £12
Nearest Tube: Holborn or Tottenham Court Road

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In the history of museum exhibitions, big names do well. Tutankhamen; The First Emperor (and his Terracotta Warriors); Pompeii. In that order they make up the most popular exhibitions ever hosted at the British Museum. With that in mind, the British Museum have rolled out another big hitter for the summer: Hokusai. Continue reading

Giacometti, Tate Modern

Adult Entry: £18.50
Nearest Tube: Blackfriars, District & Circle Lines

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It is very difficult to review the exhibition of an artist that you love. There is constant temptation to wax lyrical about the art itself rather than the exhibition, making an interesting essay but a poor review. I have tried to ignore the Giacometti’s ability to contain such potential energy with his static figures, or comment on the unrefined emotion straining from every angle of those unbearably human faces. Putting my (admittedly first-world) struggles to one side, imagine how high I set my expectations upon hearing of this Giacometti blockbuster exhibition at the Tate Modern.  Continue reading

Fear and Love at the Design Museum

Adult Entry: Exhibition £14
Nearest Tube: High Street Kensington, District & Circle Line

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Breaking: New Museum Opens In South Kensington! In other news; independent coffee shop opens between a Starbucks and a Costa. Casualties expected.

It takes guts for an upstart museum to shoulder its way into the territory of multiple very established institutions. How could the Design Museum compete with the collections housed at the V&A or NHM? Fortune, we are told, favours the bold, but perhaps it also favours the principled.
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

Tate Britain

Adult Entry: Free
Nearest Tube: Pimlico, Victoria Line

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Most conversations about the Tate Britain start with a 5 minute digression about where it is, what it is, and whether or not it’s the one with the giant empty room. This is not great advertising for a national art gallery.
I decided to visit the Tate Britain for one main reason: I remembered that it existed. Usually, I wouldn’t admit to that. But it raises an interesting point about famous names, and how they can often do more harm than good.
Everyone knows about the Museum of London, but the Museum of London Docklands anyone? No? How about the V&A? Easy. But the V&A Museum of Childhood? Suddenly, not so popular.
These big names are keen to spread their plumage and take subsidiaries under their wing; failing to see that this leaves their prodigies deep in the shade. Maybe we should start questioning whether they would stand better alone? Continue reading