How many museums can a boy see in a week?

In Museums on October 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Phew, it’s been a bit of a hectic week for museum-visiting Steve.
I’ve been working hard, honest, but in the last seven days I’ve managed to visit:

The Wellcome Collection to see Exquisite Bodies, an exhibition about 19th-century anatomical models, some of which were pretty gruesome and explicit. But a good show, now sadly closed.

Bunker exhibition at the Barbican Centre. It’s an imaginary WW2-esque bunker (of indeterminate location) where visitors are free to wander the network of rooms, filled with props, dust and a working underground postal train!

The British Museum to see their Power of Dogu exhibition – a lovely group of ancient objects from Japan which haven’t really been displayed before in this country. Great interpretation (well done Claire E.)

The Life at Sea exhibition on board HMS Belfast, which gets people of all ages imagining they’re in the Navy.

The British Library for their great interactive sound exhibition about 20th-century speeches, called The Sound and the Fury. And I can’t resist a visit to Magna Carta whenever I’m there too. As the Americans would say, it’s just so old. And it’s important too.

A behind-the-scenes look at the new Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which opens on 7 November. I’ve been working with them over the last month, writing the new audio tour for the museum. It’s looking fab back there – such a creative and well thought out museum space. While in Oxford I checked out an old favourite – the Museum of Natural History and the recently re-opened Pitt Rivers Museum, which looks much the same but is greatly improved in terms of getting round the building. Yes, I saw the shrunken heads. Yes, they’re still really cool.

Also in Oxford I made a trip to Modern Art Oxford to see the Karla Black exhibition. When I look at modern art I generally don’t like to say ‘I could’ve done that’. It’s a rather crude and simplistic assessment of someone’s work. But sherbert on the floor and a giant condom full of custard really don’t do it for me.

Yesterday I was at the Tower of London to see the crown jewels, beefeaters, ravens etc. And also to see Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill in the White Tower. It’s not been made by HRP, but by the Royal Armouries. And it shows. There’s some great film of shiny armour and clashing swords. Real Tudor video and everything.

And this morning I put my nose around Moctezuma at the British Museum. It’s got some fab objects never seen before outside Mexico, and a real twist in the tale – hard to achieve in a narrative museum exhibition. The BM also opened another Mexican-inspired – Revolution on Paper, which features some really striking posters and political art (along with other things which inspire me less.) I always marvel at the size and breadth of the BM’s prints and drawings collection. It’s just huge.

I think I might need a period when I don’t visit any exhibitions. I’ve definitely got museum fatigue!


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