Yesterday was rather boring! SO I didn’t write anything at all. I know you were all crushed and inconsolable. But fear not! Today I shall make up for all my past wrongs.
Yesterday, aka Day 3, aka snoozeville (I mean that literally). My dearest companions had a really loooooong nap of about 5 hours? Give or take? And since we had a late start and then lunch most of the places on my to-do list were closed. I did manage to wrest my mother out of her languid afternoon/evening to get ciders (side note: Cider is made out of fermented apples) and fish and chips at 9:30 pm or as they write here 21:30. Yum! I will say lunch was fantastic as well, Mum was overjoyed. She can list every single thing we ate and rate it on a scale of one to ten without breaking a sweat. Its very impressive but alas I do not have the same gift (though I am a human version of imdb, so THERE).
Day 4: a GREAT IMPROVEMENT
It was a banner day for this Museum Nerd. We completed our visit of the BRITISH MUSEUM. What a treat! AND, oh yes there is an AND, Mum and I made it to the Petrie Museum of Egyptology at UCL. 🙌
Part 2 of the Liberte British Museum Experience: Tickets on sale NOW
I planned really well so we got to the museum just as they opened the doors to the exhibits. The very large school group waiting outside was dismayed when I was able to sneak our party of 3 right past them through the doors. Among the many treasures we saw were the Rosetta Stone (it was much bigger than I expected), artifacts from Egypt and the Assyrian Lamassu (gateway guardians with human head, wings and bull/lion bodies), lion hunting reliefs from Nineveh. The cuneiform writings were super intricate and even covered some of the figural elements of the stele (stone text posts where a dude proclaims his greatness) and statues.
We also saw the Elgin Marbles, or the marbles taken from the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin. The keeping of these marbles is very controversial in the museum world. Greece wants them back, and has for a very long time, even going so far as to build a museum home for them. One of the main issues is that it’s a very big symbol of the British Colonialist heritage. Many items in the BM stem from a time when archeology was close to looting and showing the racial superiority of Caucasians. If the marbles were to return to Greece it would open up the BM to having requests from other countries the return of their cultural items. Including but not limited to the Benin Bronzes which also have a similarly controversial history. The items have also been in London for long enough to be a part of the British cultural legacy and the BM’s as a visual encyclopedia of cultures and history. It’s a hornets nest of patrimony, ethics and international relations.
On the other hand, the Living and Dying gallery did a lot to assuage the colonialist message of the BM. The gallery looked very closely like the Museum of Anthropology’s multiversity gallery at the University of British Columbia. Similar cases, framing, etc. Walking into the North America section was a bit like teleporting to be honest. The curators did a very cool job of updating the typological way of looking at cultures (very in tune with the historical origins of the BM) while showing that in fact these cultures deal with the same concerns as everyone and that they are living and developing. I liked the use of modern photos to show how people use the items and address the concerns of living and dying. The centrepiece was a great art exhibit that presented the life of a typical man and woman through photos, objects and the medicine they take (mostly their pills). It created an imagined person and used photos from lots of different people. The woman had birth control and hormone replacement while you saw the man was a smoker who was treated for lung cancer but eventually succumbed to it. Mum, always the pharmacist, thought it was fantastic!
This post is rather long! Thanks for sticking with me. Here’s a little token of my thanks:
Saw this guy fake texting at the British Museum. Can’t believe he wasn’t paying attention.
I’ll post later about the Petrie Museum. Heads up for the photo post though.