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)

The Science Museum

August 19, 2007 at 10:51 pm | Posted in London, museum, Out and About, science, Science Museum, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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This week I’m off to the Science Museum. The Piccadilly line is the easiest way to the museum via South Kensington Station. The tube station is also close to a number of other tourist spots such as The Natural History Museum. I was starving before I left but figured it would be more efficient to grab a bite when I arrived. This was not the case what with Kensington being a cultural hub it seems to disapprove of cafes, McDonalds or any other eatery. After walking around for a bit (probably missing the above food outlets by metres) I gave up and decided on eating at the Museum cafe. Through the main doors I queue up for my bag to be inspected. The signs helpfully point out that I should not be carrying a gun.

Post inspection I’m faced by hordes of tourists and families with strollers crowding through the main floor. I’m now stuck in another line, this time for some unfortunate sandwiches. Now with something in my stomach I’m ready to walk through the museum. I was planning on entertaining myself with Dave and Joel on my walk and while iTunes claimed to have synced the latest track to my iPod this was not the case. Basically, it was just me and too many people and too many lound children that I wasn’t able to block out with one of my favourite podcasts.

If you can’t tell today I became a grumpy and crotchety blogger.

What can be said about the Science Museum? Well there is a lot of content and display cases with scientific artefacts on any number of issues such as energy, metals, weather and timekeeping to name just a few.

Trying to avoid the crowds, the best place to go is to the 4th and 5th floors which cover the history of medicine. Despite the small floor space they have certainly packed in a lot of information. The 3rd floor covers Flight – including full scale models and motion ride simulators (extra charge). 2nd floor is maritime engineering (another quiet spot), mathematics, energy and computing. The energy exhibit includes some helpful hands on displays including a dance dance revolution style activity. 1st floor features a pretty informative temporary exhibit on plastics as well as permanent sections on agriculture, weather and time. Ground’s best feature is the modern world displays covering my favourite area: space exploration. Lastly, the basement has a display on the changing home. There are a few other sections and paid areas such as an Imax cinema.

I’m starting to think I may be a philistine in academic robes. All of this knowledge and potential new information should fulfil my curiosity but on the contrary I just got bored and tended to walk past most exhibits – unless something caught my eye. Perhaps things would have been better if many of the exhibits didn’t seem to end around 1980/1990 or look like a 1970s class room. For example, the Internet seems completely lacking as do alternative energy systems (other than the child’s hand on display). Although the hunger/ crowd thing may have just reduced my enthusiasm for this particular outing.

There is a lot on offer in the museum but for the tourist I wonder whether it’s possible to get the most benefit. Even without reading in depth it still took me a few hours to walk through and with that in mind a tourist may have to prioritise which floors to explore or frankly, whether to come at all – assuming you have to make a choice between one museum/ activity or another. Once again this museum is free which is beneficial but the time it takes and the lack of up to date scientific displays are serious drawbacks.

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