Adult Entry: £5 Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line)
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 →
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 →
Adult Entry: £11 Nearest Tube: Victoria (District, Circle, and Victoria lines)
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 →
Adult Entry: £12 Nearest Tube: Holborn or Tottenham Court Road
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 →
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.
Adult Entry: Free Nearest Tube: Holborn, Central Line
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’.
Lets move to our second case study: The Temple of Dendur. This temple was removed in its entirety from Egypt and brought to a specially created room in the Met, where it was faithfully reconstructed. It stands in a tranquil hall, one glass wall looking out onto Central Park, surrounded by a shallow canal. The room could not do a better job of inciting the grandeur and serenity of the original temple.
Do we interpret that the available space has improved the interpretation? Or perhaps only that the available space has increased the maximum quality achievable for that object. Continue reading →