|Peace Garden on the grounds of the Imperial War Museum|
I must note that I have adopted the habit when visiting larger museums of choosing one or two galleries to focus on. This lets me linger on all the details in those areas, but still not feel burned out by the experience of visiting that particular museum.
|15" Naval guns outside of Imperial War Museum|
While in London, I visited the Imperial War Museum. I had heard that the World War I section was not to be missed and wanted to take a look. The British experience of the first World War seems like it would be very different than the American one. Though the Channel separates the United Kingdom from mainland Europe, the closer distances involved (compared to the U.S.) must have made the transitions between home life and the trenches abrupt indeed. Overall, the parts of the exhibits that focused on the beginnings of the war and life on the home front seemed to reflect a disbelief (even to this day) that the war was beginning. The walk through the reconstructed trenches (towards the end of the exhibits) gave a very good feel for how exposed (overhead) and confined (in the narrow twisting walls) the soldiers must have simultaneously felt. A good, but sobering look at this conflict.
|I felt a little uneasy about falling objects in the Imperial War Museum lobby|
I left the Imperial War Museum and headed forwards in time about 25 years to the Churchill War Rooms. I thought one of the best parts of these displays were the video monitors that gave comments of people who had worked in these areas ... some of these people - particularly the women who worked as secretaries - had not told even their families about their war work until years later. There were some interesting anecdotes about what it was like working with Churchill who had some interesting quirks. I actually found the rooms less interesting than the exhibits about Churchill himself. I've seen other underground WWII installations, so I did have some ideas going in on what it would look like. I did not, however, know how devoted Churchill was to his wife or that he had a favorite cat that would lounge on the bed with him as he did morning paperwork. And, as a purely personal amusement ... one of the war room desks looked EXACTLY the same as the metal one that I had for many years when I started my current job.
|This is a two person costume - at the V & A Museum|
|Costume hat in the shape of the Sydney Opera House - V & A Museum|
|The little white jar held kohl in an Egyptian pyramid|
The day that I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I had time for a brief stop at the British Museum in the morning. One of the things that I love about this museum is that every time I have been there I have been allowed to touch real historical artifacts. If you go, ask at the information desk if there is a specialist located in a particular area or go to the Hall of Enlightenment and look for the docent with a tray of items from different time periods. Items on the tray this visit ranged from a hand ax that is millions of years old - perhaps even made by Neanderthals rather than early humans - to 14th century Persian tile. Some of the items were ones that I had seen on my last visit to the British Museum; however, new to me was a tiny white stone jar that was found with Egyptian grave goods in a pyramid and held kohl (cosmetics for use in the afterlife) and a brass instruments used in the Arab deserts for navigating by the stars. It certainly gives a personal connection to hold something that has lasted for many years and wonder about the people who made and used it.
|In the British Museum|
One of the museums that I had most anticipated visiting was the Fan Museum in Greenwich. I learned during my visit that the collection (and the museum itself) was primarily the work of one woman who had donated her collection to start the museum. Unfortunately, I felt that this meant that there was less variety in the fan styles than I had hoped. I really love the brise style of fans (where the folding fan is made only of the support sticks) which are generally carved, but there were only a few examples on display. The majority of the collection seemed to consist of folding fans with a painted panel (made from paper, kidskin, etc.) attached to support sticks. There were a bare minimum of other styles (like non-folding fans) included. The time period represented by the collection also seemed fairly focused in the 18th and early 19th centuries. So, not quite what I had hoped for, but I still did learn a fair amount about fans - terminology and how they are made.
|The Cutty Sark|
|On the deck of the Cutty Sark|
|Officer's dining room of Cutty Sark - drinks went in the wooden hangers|
|The master's room on the Cutty Sark|
|Rigging ropes on the Cutty Sark|
|Collection of ship figureheads located under the Cutty Sark|
|View from the Royal Observatory|
|Standing over the Prime Meridan|
|Unique sundial - the point between the shadow of the dolphins' tails points to the time|
I also visited the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. However, it was my fourth museum of the day, so I was losing energy at that point. I was impressed by the number of original paintings that were incorporated into the displays that I visited. This is unusual in my experience to see a museum with such a mix of paintings and artifacts to tell the story of the past. I was also pleased to see as I entered the museum that one of the sculptures that I had previously seen on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalger Square has found a permanent - and appropriate - home at this location since it depicts a giant ship in a bottle.
|This officer's story was the centerpiece of the Royal Dragoon Guard Museum at Edinburgh Castle|
|A favorite art piece at the National Museum of Scotland|
|Part of a choir stall at the National Museum of Scotland - I loved the differences in the carvings|