Half a day in the British Museum is not enough

Half a day in the British Museum is not enough

In case you are curious as to the point of this post, please re-read the title. Yep – it says it all.

So we were in London for two days (how stupid is that? Should be longer.) . Our plans say “British Museum in morning. Westminster in afternoon.”

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Shows you that we were only used to Australian museums where you waltz in, see everything within two hours, have a coffee and then move somewhere else.

That plan does not work for the British Museum.

OK – let’s talk about scale. Imagine the biggest shopping complex that you have ever visited in a major city. You know – the humungous ones with 300 or so shops and cafes and a swimming pool or two. Well, that is the scale of the British Museum. Maybe bigger. Indeed, you probably have more chance of browsing the complete merchandise in such a shopping complex in a day than you do of the British Museum in two days. Really.

And where is it?

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Good old Google maps tells us that its about 15 minutes walk north west of the Thames where it does that big bend south. :)

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And while I think of it Рthe front fa̤ade faces the sun in the morning. So if you want to take a picture of your loved ones in front of the museum, be aware that they will be squinting.

The first view inside is pretty spectacular, especially the ceiling/roof.

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It’s just so well done. Artistic.

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The placement of the exhibits is very well thought out, at least to begin with. I have to admit that in some sections they looked pretty crammed together, but here everything looked brilliant.

Now my daughter Rhiannon loves ancient Egypt, so we headed off to that section first.

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There was a lot to see.

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Initially that meant a lot of statues.

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Yep – a lot.

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But then that turned into a lot of friezes.

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And then a lot – a real lot – of mummies with their sarcophagi. But I’ll only show you a few of those.

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Next we stumbled into Assyria.

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It made my heart feel good to see some of the giant horsey-men thingies still standing given the destruction of many in their homelands.

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It was also exciting seeing many things that I had only ever seen in books. Being a keen collector of tomes on mythology and religion I was stoked.

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Then we moseyed over into early Mediterranean and eventually Greek culture.

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Rhiannon was becoming increasingly engrossed in all this. Soon everything required a picture on her iPad.

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Then I rounded a corner and one room blew me away. It had what seemed like an entire Greek temple in it!

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Well, it turned out to be a tomb. Nevertheless…

But on it all went. I loved the statues that followed.

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Actually the one below made me think of Doris Fiebig’s 3D work – the way it captures expression and reality.

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And this was lovely.

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And Pericles! How many times have I seen this very bust in history books!

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And some sphinxes!

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As you can see I was pretty excited. And the rooms were just so large with so much to see.

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Believe it or not, these many pictures were just a tiny fraction of what I saw on the day. Regrettably we left at about 2pm (another mistake as you will learn in a future post). I so wish that I had explored more.

One more interesting thing – perhaps my affinity with the Egyptian and Ancient Near East collections. This wing of the British Museum was built between 1800 and around 1830, the collections being progressively bought and displayed along the way. A couple of streets south east of the site at the time lay what was known at the time as the St Giles Rookery – probably the worst criminal infested slum of its time before the rise of the Seven Dials, and made famous by Hogarth’s etchings such as Gin Lane. At this time my mother’s family, the Males family, lived right in the middle of the rookery, and probably would have woken to the sounds of the museum’s grand construction work each morning.

Anyway, that was my family’s adventure to the British Museum. I hope that you have enjoyed the read and the photos and if it helps you plan your trip to London then all the better. Just head my advice and give the museum at least a day. :)

Greg

 

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8 Comments


  1. My idea is not to spend at one visit a lot of time in huge museum because in 2-3 hours the brain does not accept all the things there. I prefer to visit numerous time the different parts of the same museum. Then the impressions are stronger. Unfortunately, when you traveling from Australia to UK for couple days it is not possible at all. Sorry.

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    1. Yep – I agree totally. A few decades back I would just plonk myself in a place for a week and do as you say. Alas it just was not practical this time. We were taking my 11 year old daughter on a whirlwind tour of the UK and Europe and not really looking at anything in sufficient depth. This said, she absolutely loved it. :) Thanks for visiting and commenting :)

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  2. I haven’t been to the British Museum since school trips when I was but a little lad. It’s a pity as I love wandering around museums and art galleries. I can recommend the Ashmolean in Oxford next time you op over the pond.

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    1. Thanks :) I will have to do that. Due to a major miscalculation of time on my part (and getting horrendously lost) we missed seeing Oxford this time around. :(

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  3. I haven’t been to the UK, but if I go, the British Museum will definitely be on my “must see” list. Loved your photos!

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    1. Thanks David :) Yep, I think that it is the kind of place that you would really enjoy.

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  4. wow, i envy you for the visit in the british museum. certainly, half day is not enough,, i would have used all the time just to look the aphrodite.. lol .., so nice you remembered that i had sculpted her once, and even nicer to see you took a foto of her. she is wonderful, is she not? … when do you plan to come back, and visit again the museum? i mean as you said, half day is not enough… looking forward to more of your travel reports, they are very interesting to read, and look fotos :-)

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    1. Thanks. Trust me, your work is a standard that I mention quite a bit in chats with people. :) Unless my life circumstances change for the better I cannot see myself getting to Europe again for another decade. This said, I have a lot of reports on this trip yet to come :) Thanks :)

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