Results 1-10of 13 Reviews
London, United Kingdom
June 23, 2009
From journal London Museums
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
February 28, 2009
From journal The A-Muse-ment Arcades: Culture on the Cheap
April 22, 2008
From journal London, Free and Easy
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
August 21, 2005
For all this breadth, however, you can get a reasonable sense of London's past, from pre-history to 1914, when the museum's collections terminate, in a couple of hours, either with the recorded tour (for which there is a charge) or by taking advantage of the extensive labeling that accompanies each item on display. Indeed, more than any individual exhibition, this straightforwardness is probably the museum's best attribute since London's history has been extremely complex. It commendably covers the experiences not only of the nobility and merchant class, but also examines the plight of women, the poor, and immigrants, who usually get short shrift in this kind of museum elsewhere.
Unusual for a civic museum, the first gallery "London Before London" deals with pre-history, providing a wealth of information on the early inhabitants of the Thames Valley in neon-lit display cases that wouldn't be out of a place in a modern art museum! Personally, I prefer the Roman Gallery, which harks back to the city's foundation as Londinium and contains a pair of very impressive reconstructed rooms featuring actual Roman mosaics. I enjoyed the recordings featuring spoken Latin and the cookbook of foods consumed by Roman patricians – including milk-fed snails and stuffed dormice! By contrast, the Tudor and Early Stuart section is little more than some ostentatious furnishings accompanied by a careworn display on the Great Fire of 1666.
This seminal event in London's history is your cue to walk to the airy downstairs galleries. "Late Stuart London" covers the rebuilding of the city, largely under the auspices of Sir Christopher Wren, best known for designing St. Paul's Cathedral. "Eighteenth Century London" examines the development of both bourgeois and plebeian culture in the reborn city – as well as displaying a cell from the notorious Newgate Prison. The museum's largest and most interesting exhibition covers London's rise as the world's preeminent economic and cultural center between 1789 and 1914. If you're pressed for time, you should come directly here, as it goes further in explaining how London came to be the city it is today than any other exhibition.
The museum's exhibitions compose an essential introduction to London. It also plays host to quite a few events (many geared to families and most free) every day, many of which offer the opportunity to add an interactive element to your visit. Inquire at the Information Desk when you enter, where you can also pick up a free museum map and find out about temporary exhibitions (for which there is often an admission charge.)
From journal London For Nothing - Seeing Sights for Free
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
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
March 24, 2006
From journal My Trip to London
December 12, 2004
The museum is very logically organized and begins with pre-historic England. There is a great deal of information concerning the Roman settlement and occupation of Londinium, which was much more extensive and long-lasting than I had realized. Along with a replica of the interior of a Roman home, one can see a remaining section of the original London Wall. There is also an interesting exhibit with artifacts from the Roman Temple of Mithras.
You move through the medieval period, the Renaissance, and onward through London history. Replica interiors from different eras are very interesting and well-done. The exhibit on the Great Fire of 1666 is particularly compelling.
I plan to return here for a more thorough visit on my next trip. The book shop is very good, and there is a café in the museum for lunch or tea. Near the Barbican and St. Paul tube stations, the museum is easily accessible from anywhere in London.
From journal Exploring the City
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
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
by Sarah the Expat
March 30, 2004
The museum is well hidden, a bit hard to find. Go to either Barbican or St Paul's tube stops and look for the signs. The museum entrance is actually located in the network of walkways called the Barbican, up above street level. Just walking through those can be an adventure!
From journal An American Expat In London