February Lates Roundup 2009

March 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Natural History Museum, Out and About, Science Museum, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Last week was the end of February and that means it was time to revisit South Kensington and its museums for another round of Late night madness.

First up on Wednesday was the Science Museum. I did in fact come despite protestations last time that I wouldn’t come back for a while out of increasing boredom. Word of the event has definitely increased as there were more people than ever including some of my friends and so I thought I’d come again.

Rant – Only one major one, please keep the bars in the same location. Every time I come they’re in a different spot. January when the two were on either side of the ramp was perfect!

Anti-rant – As always there were loads of night only activities including a silent disco (the line was quite long so we didn’t partake but clearly popular) and a DJ in Launchpad – this was the first time I’ve seen people dancing there! I was also thrilled to see that most of the museum was open, including an “astronaut” giving a talk in the space section. Hopefully, future events will see even more of the galleries open. Very popular and enjoyable evening.

Science Museum Lates Feb 09 (2) Science Museum Lates Feb 09 (7)

Friday saw the double Lates of the Victoria and Albert and Natural History Museum. First up was the V&A.

Rant – My rant is basically bar based. The beverages were small and expensive. For example a beer costs almost £4, for about half a pint in a plastic cup, whereas at the Science Museum it’s £3 for a glass bottle of Asahi. Lastly, you can only drink (or eat) in the entry area. So assuming you can wait through the line to get to the bar you’ll have to stand around for a while before you can even get into the museum. I understand that the museum might be concerned about the safety of their pieces. Understandable but if that’s the issue either don’t have a bar or allow people to drink in the galleries but put restrictions on which ones they can go in.

Anti-rant – The activities on offer were excellent. My highlight for the night was a murder mystery where you had to follow a route and gather clues. It was really well devised as the route took you through most parts of the museum and past many other events that you could stop off on before completing your quest. Another fun activity was creating collages that represent us. The hall was filled with people, magazines, glue and scissors all embracing a child like joy at this arts and crafts. Despite my reservations about the bar (best to drink before hand) we all had an excellent time at our first V&A Lates -well recommended!

V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (2) V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (4)

The V&A closes just before 10 and luckily the Natural History Museum stays open until 10:30 so we headed over there to continue the frivolity.

Rant – Granted we got there at 10 but it appeared none of the standard galleries were open, the exception being the ticketed events. In addition unlike the other museums there were no special activities on and when I asked at the information desk the attendant looked at me blankly at such an odd request.

Anti-Rant – The museum offers a wider selection of beverages (including sparkling) compared to the other museums. While the exhibits weren’t open it was still an atmospheric experience to sip drinks under the giant brontosaurus skeleton in the main hall. A nice late event but not essential, probably best to do at the beginning/end of the night, certainly don’t base your evening around it.

V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (20) V&A and Natural History Museum Lates (21)

Horniman Museum

March 3, 2009 at 10:03 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Music, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The Horniman Museum and Gardens is an eclectic and diverse collection located in Forest Hill (South East London). The museum and its items were donated by Frederick John Horniman to London and reflects his wide range of interests during the 19th century.

Horniman Museum (31) Horniman Museum (29)

The Horniman offers a jack of all trades/ microcosm of several other museums. There’s the natural history section including a large stuffed walrus and details an array of evidence for evolution with examples of sapien and canine development. The second floor of the Natural History wing includes small fossils and minerals. It always fascinates me how archaeologists can determine the shape of an animal from the basic imprint of a life on stone.

Horniman Museum (3) Horniman Museum (2)

Much of the Horniman’s collection isn’t on display and as a result the second floor opposite the Natural History section is devoted to a regularly changing exhibit. When I visited it featured Chinese silks and Polish paper cutting.

Underneath this exhibition is a hall covering many of the cultures of Africa from Egypt to Botswana and their influences in the Caribbean. The pieces are fascinating and there are several videos to provide additional content.

On the lower ground floor is one of the Horniman’s best and most unique exhibits. It’s a wonderful collection of musical instruments and it charts the development of the different types over the centuries and their uses in various cultural events. There are interactive tables to see some of these in action as well as a side room to put some basic theory to the test.

Also on this floor is a special exhibits room. While I was visiting it had an artwork looking at the slave trade and some of the modern repercussions.

The basement has a small but well designed aquarium with plenty of fish and aquatic environments.

In the Centenary Room you’ll find a hodge podge of artifacts, many of these curios were exhibited by Horniman himself when he exhibited his curios to his social set such as a statue of Kali and torture chair.

Beyond the Museum are the large gardens. These are predominantly grassy areas but there’s also an elevated flower garden in the centre (not in bloom when I visited).

Horniman Museum (12) Horniman Museum (16)

It was quite pleasant to walk around (with the exception of the taunts by high-school girls….feels just like when I was a student – Repress!) and I’m sure in the spring and summer it would be a nice place to lie in the sun.

Horniman Museum (18) Horniman Museum (19)

A visit to the Horniman (it’s free!) offers a wide range of topics where most people will find something of interest. None of the sections are particularly large and so you’ll be able to get through the content reasonably quickly – especially if one area is less appealing. Overall it is a well rounded and pleasant museum.

The big disadvantage is the location. Unfortunately, it is in Zone 3 (approx 30mins from London Bridge), in South East London and there aren’t other (major) attractions nearby. However, if you don’t want to go to the Natural History Museum, London Aquarium and would like some ethnography and musicology thrown in then the Horniman would be perfect.

More photos at Flickr.

Victoria to Angel Walk

March 3, 2009 at 12:19 am | Posted in General, London, Out and About, photos, Random | 2 Comments
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Playing catch up on another photolog. I used to live in Angel and until recently worked in Victoria during that time I would regularly walk to and from on a journey crossing central London. Here is a selection of photos from that route.

Victoria to Angel (20) Victoria to Angel (111)

Victoria to Angel (113) Victoria to Angel (61)

Victoria to Angel (62) Victoria to Angel (9)

Victoria to Angel (99) Victoria to Angel (48)

Victoria to Angel (123) Victoria to Angel (17)

More at Flickr.

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