Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tourist Time!

I went to the Design Museum, which I found really disappointing. It's nestled in a cool neighborhood, just east of Tower Bridge, but the museum itself just didn't do it for me. I'd checked out their website beforehand (link above), but missed this section:
As it is currently configured the Design Museum concentrates on temporary exhibitions that cover the range of its interests, from graphic design and furniture to fashion, industrial design and architecture. Its permanent collection is based in the museum's store, and includes over 1000 pieces of contemporary and 20th century design, as well as a handling collection and a number of archives.

Ahh. There's the rub. All the neat things that were on their website that I was hoping to see: in the basement, bitches. I therefore paid £8.50 and trudged a BLOODY long way across London to see three exhibits: Design Cities, Alan Aldridge, and Patricia Urquiola's porcelain. Lovely and interesting all, but not quite enough. It was also in a bizarrely plain building - I've just checked the website and apparently the building is "elegantly modernist". Hmm.

My recommendation: skip it and spend the time in the Tate Modern or the V&A, any day.

It was, however, glorious weather for a picture of the Tower of London. I loved that my camera was blinking "underexposure" warnings at me...silly camera, I meant to do that!

Next museum: The Cabinet War Rooms. It was highly recommended by my London Walks tour guide, and I found it really interesting. Everything is restored (or was left) exactly as it was at the end of the war in 1945, and it has a real sense that everyone living and working there had planned for and accepted the fact that London might be obliterated above them. My entry ticket came with an audio guide that was really good - the segments were just long enough to give me a good picture, but not so long that I lost interest.

I found the Churchill museum interesting but extremely overwhelming - there was audio, video, blinking lights, artifacts, and general overstimulation in every direction. I was having trouble reading any of the blurbs with all the a/v going on, and didn't seem to be able to stand in one place long enough to listen to an entire interview/audio thing. I don't think I came out with a whole lot more Churchill knowledge than when I went in. It might be an idea to give it another shot.

I also managed to fit in a quick ramble through the British Museum - the Horus was his usual charming self and the Rosetta Stone was THRONGED with tourists pressing their noses against the glass. They had an exhibit on British Sculpture that I was having trouble following - there seemed to be random pieces scattered throughout the museum. I did manage to catch this model of the Angel Of The North, though. The real one is HUGE, and even in small scale it was quite impressive. I was glad that they put it in the smaller entrance hall rather than in the rotunda - it would have been lost in the bigger room, but here it gave the same sense that the big Angel gives you, blasting up the A1.

I also managed to fit in 2 walking tours: one of Kensington (very interesting AND we got to hear the 10 bells ringing called changes in St Mary Abbot's church), and a rather damp edition of Subterranean London. It was a mark of how fascinating the tour was that despite POURING rain and no umbrella (and the resulting wet feet), I stuck it out. Did YOU know that the extension of the tube lines under Westminster tube station is one of the great engineering marvels of all time? Thought not.

1 comment:

sparky the tortoise said...

Can I suggest the Saachi gallery - went there this weekend. Even if Chinese conceptual art (including mannekins in motorised wheelchairs) isn't your bag - its a great "space" as they say