Hope you’re having a great day. I am. What with eating chocolate and looking after my cat, it’s a pretty good day.
This week I was in London for four days working at the Museums & Heritage Show for ‘GEM The Voice of Heritage Learning.’ I also managed to visit the Museum of London.
I <3 the Museum of London. It’s a Museum. It’s about London. So it wins on both of these topics. Have I told you about my love (nay obsession) with London? No? Well now I have!
The Museum of London tells the history of London and its people from early pre-Roman times through to the Great Fire of London right up to the present day.
The galleries follow a chronological theme of the great city’s history and culture. By far one of my favourite galleries is the Roman gallery. This gallery has been recently re-interpreted with modern objects along side their Roman counterparts. This is to show the viewer how Romans communicated, decorated, lived their lives etc and how this has developed to the present date and our use of digital technology, changing social roles and the advances both domestically and socially in the last 100 years.
The gallery goes onto tell the history of Medieval London, The Black Death, The Great Fire of London and so on and so forth. What I liked a lot about the galleries within the museum was the interactive elements. From being able to touch ‘Roman Clay,'(pic 1)in conjunction with a house scene to being able to listen to a video of local school children making a mosaic. (Pic 2).
I find this sort of interaction and involvement with the local community very important to how a modern museum operates. There were also panels with QR codes to scan (though one was so dark I couldn’t scan it) and one particular code could only be scanned by a particular Nokia phone (pic 3). I found these to be very informative and added extra info to what I was looking at.
The gallery then progresses through 17th – 21st Century London history. It explains the role of the British Empire in art, trade, commerce and how the Industrial Revolution impacted London. It also focuses on all aspects of London life from birth, death, fashion, eating, employment etc.
By far my favourite galleries are the modern London galleries from c 1900 – 2010. I have a particular soft spot for the Suffragettes gallery and the ephemera displayed within these display cases. (Might also have to do with the fact I’m a bit of a feminist!)
Overall, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the Museum of London and found out things I didn’t know about London. I came away with a few thoughts to add to my own ideas and practice, working with museum and heritage sites. I think the digital media aspect is key (if done correctly- no hidden QR codes!), friendly & approachable staff and a good variety of objects on display.
One last thing to write about is that at the end of the galleries, beside the café, there are booths with access to the Museum of London’s collections. It has items featured within the galleries and provides more information on them. It also provides information on relevant objects to the object you are viewing; ones that are not on display. I found this to be brilliant as it enabled me, the viewer, to find out more information about objects I was curious about. I think that all museums should provide a similar service! (See below)
Have you ever visited the Museum of London? If so, what did you think about it? Tweet Me or comment below!
P.S. I apologise about the low quality of pictures but I was sneakily trying to take the pictures without alerting gallery staff!