In praise of museums

I’ve been to quite a few museums in the capital over last couple of weeks and I’ve realised there’s an awful lot of fun (and knowledge) out there that I’ve been missing. First up was the Natural History Museum with my two youngest nieces, aged 7 and 9. Not my favourite place to spend time but seemed to be a good one for the kids and was, as with many museums in London, free. They certainly loved the guidebooks we got them which were filled with facts, puzzles and quizzes. Thankfully they were bored of dinosaurs and diamonds by lunch time so we headed off to somewhere I really wanted to go… the London Transport Museum. Now, I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a transport geek, but that place certainly made me feel like one. I loved the evolution of the London Underground (in particular, the graphics and map), the old trains, buses and trams on show, and the illustrations by Stephen Appleby that were dotted around the exhibits. Well worth the ticket price, plus… kids get in free!

Soon after that I went along to one of the Science Museum’s Lates, designed especially for adults to enjoy the museum without kids getting in the way. This, combined with the alcohol on sale meant that the exhibition halls were filled with 20- and 30-somethings acting like children! Quite a sight to behold, I can tell you. We learnt about rockets, listened to music through our teeth and probably pressed more buttons than you’ve had hot dinners. Highly recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in science.

My most recent excursion was to the Wellcome Collection, described as a free destination for the incurably curious. There is currently a temporary exhibition called Exquisite Bodies, featuring a host of anatomical models, some so realistically carved (from wax) that you couldn’t help but compare them to Gunther von Hagens’ Bodyworlds. Fascinating though this was, it was the permanent exhibition Medicine Now that really caught my attention. I was especially drawn to some of the art-meets-science exhibits, such as Mosquito Coast by Alastair Mackie (a map of the world created using mosquitoes). This particular gallery was so interesting that I think I shall have to go back and spend more time there.

Much as I love the V&A, I think I’ve been missing out on a lot of museums and collections in the last three years. London has even more to offer than I first thought.

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