Sunday, February 19, 2012

Museum of London and St Pauls

I'd been past the Museum of London before, but I was on my way somewhere else and couldn't quite figure out how to get in (part of it is on a large city roundabout) so had never actually set foot in it until yesterday. They currently have a Dickens exhibition, so I saw that and then wandered around the pre-historic London gallery before the museum closed. I must go back and see what happened in more historic times.

To get there, I caught the Docklands Light Rail, or DLR, which is a robotic train (well, driverless, but robotic sounds cooler) that spends most of its time above ground on little overpasses around the Docklands area in East London. I hadn't realised just how many docks there were, some of them now done up with restaurants and pretty walks around them, some still with working boats going in and out. I saw a few canal boats and lots and lots of apartment buildings before we dove down into the ground and stopped at Bank: a warren of a station where I got a bit lost and ended up on the Central Line platform without quite knowing how. Finally at the exit, I struggled with my umbrella and tried to guess which way I should walk to get to the museum. Of course I chose the wrong direction and had to get Googlemaps to save me (which, this time, it did).

So I was a little late. We had timed tickets, which seems to be quite a common thing for big exhibitions, but they don't tell you how fast you have to move through so my lateness didn't matter  too much. The exhibition was very interesting, with lots of paintings and photographs of London as it was in Dickens' time, playbills and Punch and Judy puppets, pieces of original manuscript and Dickens' desk and chair. We marvelled over how anyone could have read Dickens' pages of crossed-out writing. Some of the pictures of life-in-the-19th-Century showed people digging out the docks I'd just passed on the DLR - by hand, of course. Others showed tumble-down inns where I imagined Pip might have stayed, with blurred figures facing the camera. There's always something a bit creepy about old photos with people in them, I think; the figures seem to have only the barest hint of faces.

There were lots and lots of swords and spearheads in the pre-historic gallery, and examples of skulls with cranial damage. It was a bit scary to look at all those weapons and imagine what they had done so long ago.

It was dusk by the time the museum closed, and I wasn't too far from St Paul's Cathedral so decided to walk down to it. A few stars were out, and the dome looked beautiful against the night sky.
The Occupy London protesters are still encamped around the north side of the Cathedral with their tents and their library and their portaloos, as you might be able to see right at the bottom of the picture. I walked all the way around the cathedral, which is really very big. I should probably go and see inside some time...

No comments:

Post a Comment

what do you think?