Results 11-13of 13 Reviews
November 13, 2002
Many museums in London have benefited from a new scheme that makes entry into them free. The Museum of London is one of these, though I have to add that the first time I visited this museum many years ago, entry was free, and later a rather steep entry fee was instituted. At the moment, there is quite a lot of construction going on, and the entrance is rather difficult to get to, but go ahead and bear with it; it’s well worth the effort.
I’m sorry to report that photography is no longer allowed in the museum, and I was not able to get a permit. I believe, however, that I have photos from some of my earlier visits, and I am going to try to locate them.
The exhibits are set up chronologically. You begin your journey through prehistory to the Roman City of Londinium. You will learn about the Roman occupation and the cult of Mithras. There is an exhibit of the fragments of the temple that was excavated in 1954. The exhibit combines pictures, writing, and artifacts in cases.
A particularly interesting exhibit was a limestone sarcophagus unearthed in 1999 in London. The limestone was indigenous to Lincolnshire. It contained a 5'4" female in her mid-twenties. Her face has been reconstructed from the bones; it was fascinating to imagine the life this young woman lived almost 2,000 years ago.
We then travel through Saxon London or Lundenwic. No trace remains above ground of the Saxon time period, but there have been extensive underground finds. Most recently, some graves were found near Covent Garden on Floral Street. Among the treasures, there was a copper brooch. Part of the problem in locating the Saxon City was that it was not built in the same location as the Roman, but farther west.
Room 1066 portrays a defining day in London’s history, and it’s passed on the way to Tudor London. This room of the museum is very effective, with music playing softly in the background. There are exhibits on the architect Inigo Jones, Henry VIII’s Nonesuch Palace, a miniature Rose Theater, and the Great Fire.
The most popular exhibit, though, is downstairs. It is the Lord Mayor’s Coach. It is an impressive sight! You can see Lord Nelsons Sword, a cell from Wellclose Prison, and listen to music from a virginal in the Georgian Room. All in all, this is a very interesting museum, and you will come away with a real appreciation for everything you are going to see during your visit to London.
Take the circle line to the Barbican exit and then follow the signs.
From journal London-Once is Never Enough
March 24, 2002
My only cavil about this museum is that in London, history is everywhere: in the buildings that surround you, the ancient churches and graveyards, the historic pubs and theatres, and the very cobblestones beneath your feet. Going to see it safely ensconced behind glass seems to pale in comparison, but if it's a solid introduction to London's history you're after, then this is a good place to start before seeking out the real thing.
Having said that (and feeling slightly guilty, for I did enjoy the museum), there are exhibits in the London Museum that are unique, and it was great fun to see how exhibits played off one another, with the juxtaposition of, say, Regency fashion complemented by a grand display of antique carriages. I almost expected Beau Brummel to open a carriage door and step out.
Less successful was a rather ho-hum "sound and light"-style presentation of the London Fire. Perhaps I'm spoiled, coming from near Washington, D.C. and accustomed to the Smithsonian, but that particular historic event seemed to me to cry out for the full Imax monty. Someday, I imagine, it will get it.
From journal Footloose Female Off the Beaten Path in London
London, United Kingdom
November 4, 2000
To reach it take the circle/district/metropolitan line to Barbican. Then follow the signs of Dick Whittington and his cat out of the tube station and across the overpass. The Museum is part of the Barbican brutalist arts complex - one of the largest in Europe. Notoriously difficult to find your way round this can start as a pre or post museum stop and is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. If you can snap up tickets (£10-30)you will not regret it as it is one of the best theatre companies in the world.
The museum does free tours and these are worth taking up. the first section is prehistory including a disturbing picture of the Thames valley imagining if London never existed. Then the Roman section which cannily incorporates the museum design so that you can look down on a fragment of Londons Roman wall. The Celts, Danes, Saxons, Normans and Vikings all whoosh by and there are some fantastic reconstructed models of medieval buildings that are no longer with us. Such as Old London Bridge which was lined with houses,taverns and brothels. What a shame that they hadn't survived to this day.
The Tudors were next with great portraits of Henry VIII. Did you know that the man had not one but fifty three palaces dotted around London with only St James, Hampton Court and Lambeth still surviving. London looked rather green and suburban in those days (see picture)and the great fire of London was shown in a rather tame diorama narrated by Samuel Pepys. The fire destroyed most of the old medieval/Tudor city and plans were drawn up by Sir Christopher Wren to reconstruct London along baroque lines to make it as grand as Rome or Vienna. But they returned to the old medieval streetplan and it was not to be. Shame really.
The final section of the museum had some stunners. The highlight has to be the gilt covered Lord Mayors coach. But also on show are 17th century court ladies costumes, a door from the septic Newgate prison, and the original art-deco lift from Selfridges department store. The museum finally winds up in the London Now! exhibt showing life in the 21st century. It explores the role of multi-ethnic London and celebrates the cities diversity. The Indian Tandoori restaurant is just as much part of London as Oliver Twist or Geoffry Chaucer. And after visiting this lively museum you may think the same....
From journal London - Cultural Powerhouse of Europe