Yesterday I went to the British Museum as well as figured out logistics. I’ve been there before, but as always, I found a corner I hadn’t seen before. This go round it was the Islamic room on the bottom floor. It was truly beautiful. My favorite piece there was a scroll written such that each one of the 100 names of God looked more or less like a Chinese character, but if you turned your head sideways you could tell it was a name of God (or you could if you read Arabic better than I do). Overall I was quite pleased with the curating of this room. The opening sign was in both Arabic and English, though this did not continue. A good quantity of information was available about many objects, such that you had a bit of context for everything. The museum also has a program of 100 items throughout the museum that are marked with more info and some context for what is happening elsewhere in the world when it was made/in use. Context is so important for building up understanding.
I could go on and on about the museum, but I will attempt to restrain myself. I had the realization as I walked towards the Rosetta Stone that I was wearing the same dress as on one of my prior visits…I think my most recent visit. The Enlightenment room (a room to show how museums in the Enlightenment period would actually have been set up) was quite enjoyable. I would love to go back in time.
The Elgin Marbles, as per usual, were gorgeous. The Elgin Marbles are pieces of the Parthenon in Athens brought back by Lord Elgin. I am totally amped up about Athens now! They are set and explained quite well. They even have an overlay for the visually impaired on all the signage in the two small side rooms. Of course, said signage also screams, "We promise that the marbles should stay here in London. The world community can see it!" In a later post I will discuss this further.
It is always important to remember that all the Greek and Roman statues and carved stone we look at was not that pure white we look at now. The museum has a nice film about one metope and how they think it might have been painted.
I got to touch a variety of fun objects, my favorite of which was the front metal panel of a reliquary. It was so nicely detailed and about 500 years old!!!!! I had a good conversation about museum culture with the volunteer there.
The final area I’d never seen before was the clocks. So many fun clocks!! One was shaped like a massive ship for the Holy Roman Emperor who sat on a throne on the deck. In its day the cannon fired and the whole ship moved and it played music. There was a massive array of pocket watches that I will give more attention to later.
After the museum I grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to my hostel to prepare for this morning.