Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Big Walk Wednesday: #London Museums


DC Editor Adam writes…


As regular Daily Constitutional readers and some London Walkers will know, on my days off I like to stride out and walk London. I'm a big fan of the Capital Ring orbital walking route and I love to walk the Thames. Many of the pictures and ideas that end up on this blog are born out of my rambles.

On Wednesdays here on The Daily Constitutional, I'll be sharing some snaps, random observations and the odd bit of trivia picked up along the routes of my wanders.



A bit of background to this one: I was walking in February 2016 and the half term holidays had just finished. I always hate that day because that's when my daughter goes back to school and I don't have a little pal to hang out with.

I'm making it sound like she's off to Hogwarts or Gordonstoun in the Highlands of Scotland. She's only gone five minutes along the road to the local primary and I'll see her again at the end of the day. Just takes me a bit of adjusting is all.

So on the the first day after the school holidays I tend to go on a big walk. And on this occasion, I added a twist based on a question my daughter had come up with during the holidays…


What's the record for visiting the most museums & galleries in one day?


So I headed off to South Kensington immediately after the school run to find out…



…and scribbled a cartoon museum curator on the tube on the way (not a Cartoon Museum curator, I'll come to that later)…




First stop the Natural History Museum…





Peaceful first thing in the morning the day after the school hols…


I was in a geological frame of mind having joined my London Walks colleague Ruth on one of her Urban Geology Walks the Saturday before…




Science Museum next…


… where even the bottled water is all "sciencey"…



By 10:30a.m the Science Museum was already alive with the hubbub of school trips. So after a visit to the Clockmakers' Gallery on floor 2, where they really are sticklers for accuracy…



… I continued the time travel theme by heading back to the 60s for a little bit of Quant and Biba at The V&A…


… and the loveliest of all gift shop souvenirs (it's The V&A, of course) the OTHER Little Red Book… 


The great thing about London is the number of "bonus exhibitions" - pop-ups, happenings, one-offs and specials. In South Kensington my attention was taken by The Big Three – but along the way I bumped into Shackleton and his exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society…




Keep up with events at the Royal Geographical Society at www.rgs.org.



The Royal Academy of Music's marvellous museum is currently undergoing refurbishment, and at the time of this walk both The Serpentine Gallery and Apsley House were also closed. So after a wander through Hyde Park, next up was The Royal Academy…



… which on this particular day was somewhat upstaged by another of those pop-up surprises in the shape of 175 Faces at the Royal Society of Chemistry celebrating that institution's 175th anniversary..


The exhibition was fascinating and addictive and rather put a dent in my target to visit as many museums as possible! But it was worth it. Although the exhibition is closed as I blog this, you can judge for yourself here: www.rsc.org


If you're planning to try this daft project for yourself, then you might require some sustenance along the way. Sandwich Express at 25 Whitcomb Street has been there for as long as I can remember, an independent sandwich shop, great food and friendly staff…


After a bite in Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery was next. 

When my daughter was only three, we visited the National Gallery and I asked her: "Which painting will we start with?" and she replied, "A pink one". 

This is the one we found -  La Dama in Rosso (c.1556) by Giovanni Battista Moroni.



She then wanted to see a yellow one, a green one, and so on. Try it. It's a revelatory way to visit an art collection.

P.S. If Santa is reading this, I've been very good and would like this for Christmas, please…



On a quieter day such as this, one can really enjoy the mosaics in the NG's entrance without being shoulder charged and being called a "bloody tourist".

Boris Anrep's  mosaics The Labours of Life (1928), The Pleasures of Life (1929), Awakening of the Muses (1933) and Modern Virtues (1952) feature Londoners famous and not-so famous in the roles of the allegorical figures – a Covent Garden porter, for example, represents Commerce, while Greta Garbo stars as Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy…







At the National Portrait Gallery…




…I even managed to get a selfie with Hogarth…



Given that old Hogie is regarded by many to be the founding father of modern cartooning, my next stop just had to be The Cartoon Museum


… my very favourite of all London museums. 

Regular Daily Constitutionalists will know that I do tend to bang on (and on) about The Cartoon Museum. See earlier posts HERE and HERE.

You can listen to me banging on about The Cartoon Museum for The London Walks Podcast


The Cartoon Museum is only a minute away from that fantastic old ham, The British Museum…


… which you can discover every Saturday with that other fantastic old ham, my wife Karen on her British Museum Highlights tour (only kidding, Karen)…






When it comes to museums, it's all about scale in this part of town and the wonders of colossal British Museum contrast beautifully with the higgledy-piggledy charms of the Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy…


…where the star of the show, the Justin Bieber of the collection, is the Quagga…




– a sub-species of zebra hunted into extinction in the 19th century and one of only seven specimens left in the world.

The Grant is a teaching museum at UCL. Visit the Grant website at www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoology and listen to this intro…



At the Grant I also picked up this Top Trump…



… which reminded me that it was time to collect Isobella from school to provide her with the answer to her question…

What's the record for visiting most museums and galleries in one day, dad?

Well Isobella, my record is now 11. 

Here's my route…




Footnote: Along the way I met some lovely people. We are so lucky in London to have such a wealth of museums and galleries. Not only that, but the staff are excellent, too. If the staff, security guards and curators had been half as friendly on the day I blogged, it would still have been a most memorable day. Here's one I blogged earlier – a big shout out to London's museum staff





A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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