Tate Britain (Lates)

August 5, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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May of you will know that I enjoy going to the odd late night opening and the Tate Britain was no different. Although it is regrettable that it’s taken so long to write about one of their late night events.

The Tate Britain was the Tate until that upstart Modern turned up. The gallery houses an impressive collection of art from 1500s onwards! It is presented in the same way as the National Portrait and Art galleries. So if staid frames and artworks along painted walls is your thing then you’ll feel right at home. It certainly worked for me and without knowing more I felt like I had become more cultured – just from the experience.

Now, that was the artwork – which you can see on any visit but what about the Lates?

For those new to the concept, basically, various museums in London will have extended hours one night a month that’s just for adults. So there’ll be entertainment, drinks and food.

For Tate Britain they had Courvoisier in attendance providing discounted cocktails (in an attempt to broaden the appeal of cognac – according to our server). However, you could only drink in a very small space, relative to the entire gallery area, as a result we found ourselves pacing around trying to finish our beverages and move on. This is similar to the Victoria and Albert’s Lates. I respect that they don’t want accidental spillage but perhaps they could widen the drinking area or have a few other ‘safe zones’ throughout. I realise I sound like an alcoholic but if I wanted to just look at the art I’d come on a normal day but I chose to attend for a Lates experience.

Rant over.

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Besides the bar area the main hub of the gallery was given over to a couple audio visual displays. Generally necessitating those who wanted to watch them all to sit on the floor. The Tate also held a variety of walks and talks but we weren’t able to make any of these.

Lastly there was musical entertainment in the form of the Shellac Sisters – a group of gramophone playing retro ladies. What we could hear of it echoing down the corridors seemed novel but every time we were actually in sight in seemed to be break time.

Overall I liked the artwork on display and found it satisfying. While the option to go Late is appealing I didn’t find the extra offerings compelling enough to recommend a late night visit. A regular day time trip should be fine.

The V&A (the second coming)

July 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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It’s been a while since I last visited the V&A. Certainly a very long time since I had a proper visit. Today I took the opportunity to see the special (and soon to be over) Baroque exhibit, Gilbert Collection and the Theatre Collection.

Baroque: The exhibit discusses the first global style – Baroque and its influence over the course of several hundred years over performing arts, religion and daily life. An adult ticket costs £11 and you can get an audio guide. I didn’t and don’t feel that I’ve missed out. The exhibit was larger than I expected with a number of interesting and intricate pieces. I found the localisation of the style (such as in Asia) particularly fascinating. If you have an interest I art, design and globalisation this would be a worthwhile visit.

Gilbert: if you’ve not had enough opulence at the Baroqe exhibit then make your way past the jewellery and silver collections to the new Gilbert Collection. It features a collection that was built up over the last half of the 20th century and bequeathed to the V&A at Gilbert’s death in 2000. It features a number of fascinating and well made gold pieces, small boxes and micromosaics.

Theatre: London used to have a dedicated theatre museum however this has now closed. The collection was given to the V&A and they’ve presented a snap shot in the new rooms. An attendant advised that it is possible to see the larger collection via special appointment with the information desk. The rooms cover topics such as producing, casting, costumes, legal obstacles, advertising and the sets. It’s all fairly interesting (such as the bishops who’d attend the equivalent of glorified strip clubs) but you’ll be able gloss over some items while reading the descriptions of pieces that grab your attention. For the children they can play dress up in some costumes. Overall very well done condensing a large collection into an accessible overview.

Wallace Collection

March 2, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 5 Comments
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At the Wallace Collection you’ll find a rich array of antiques ranging in weapons to art and objects d’arte. It’s a beautiful building (currently being refurbished) with a roof enclosing the central courtyard and its restaurant (I saw a few people having high tea!).

Wallace Collection (2) Wallace Collection (3)

Most of the rooms including the lush Great Hall have artwork on the walls and numerous smaller pieces in display cases scattered around. Many of the cupboards are also fine period examples in their own right. The other parts of the collection are devoted to middle ages’ armor, weapons and cavalry. In effect the Wallace Collection offers a little for those who love art and those who might find military paraphernalia a bit more enticing.

While I was visiting they had a temporary exhibit covering  a collection of treasure hidden (predominantly coins and brooches) during the Black Death.

I observed a very in-depth tour in progress while I was wandering around. The guide was discussing in great detail the paneling and urban legends behind a particular French chest of drawers. Perhaps a bit too intensive for me but I’m sure many people will enjoy it. An audio guide is available however I only noticed a handful of numbers around the collection.

I would have liked some information about the history of the collection and while there are no display boards the staff were more than happy to provide a verbal summary.

I particularly enjoyed this free museum in the middle of London (near Bond Street Tube) as it has a strong and diverse collection.

Wellcome Collection

February 28, 2009 at 12:38 am | Posted in General, London, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Opposite Euston station is the Wellcome Collection it’s a free gallery and library focusing on medicine with the occasional special exhibit.

The main galleries are Medicine Now and Medicine Man with a third having temporary exhibits. Medicine Now predictably looks at some of the contemporary issues in medicine with displays on obesity, malaria and the human genome. This gallery is well presented with listening chairs – when you sit down you’ll hear a blurb about one of the themes, the sound doesn’t travel so it doesn’t bother other patrons. The entire are is well lit and bright with some interesting displays. One of the more fun activities is a biometric picture where you can enter some details like heart rate and height for a geometric picture of ‘you’. Quite cool.

In Medicine Man you’ll walk through a wood panelled gallery featuring artifacts Henry Wellcome collected during the 19th century. There are a variety of items such as drawings, prints, paintings, replacement limbs and many random and interesting bits and pieces such as Japanese sex aids and Napoleon’s toothbrush. In the wood panels are tastefully hidden information boards that provide more information on each item, its use and how it came into the collection.

The Wellcome Collection is an excellent museum, its often open late and is free. I would advise checking its upcoming events for temporary exhibits that interest you and planning your visit accordingly.

Edinburgh – National Galleries of Scotland

October 16, 2008 at 6:50 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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This National Gallery is relatively small, positively tiny compared with its big brother in London.

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Unless there’s a specific exhibit or you’re of the artistic persuasion there’s probably not a lot to offer you.

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After a quick 30 minute walk I was done and fairly non plussed.

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Edinburgh also has a few other galleries if you’d like to dip further into the Scottish art world. Entry is free and the gallery is centrally located on Princes Street.

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