Museums in London, museums in London!
by Heidi Obermeyer
There are few things that make for a great trip. 1. Starting the day off with good coffee. 2. A well-packed suitcase. 3. Sitting next to a nice person on the train/bus/transportation method of your choice. And finally, 4., hitting up a good museum (or 5) to make sure you get something educational out of your vaycay. Ali and I visited a boatload, nay, an aircraft-carrier-load of museums while we were in London. Luckily we’re on the same page, and many a boring museum section was easily passed through with multiple jokes about our complete lack of interest in the contents. As a former student of anthropology, I am indeed ashamed that if it’s not an early hominid or a more recent historical something-or-other, I’m not shouting from the rooftops with joy about looking at a bunch of artifacts. I’m feeling particularly guilty about my disinterest in a pretty big chunk of the British Museum collections, although I have to say it may win the most laughs-of-the-trip prize for all the lol’s we got out of pointing at various objects around the museum and saying, “See that giant Sarcophagi up there Ali? That one that’s lookin’ real historical? STOLE IT!” (In case you weren’t aware, there was an amusing instance in which the British Museum, upon being asked to return some of the objects it houses to their countries of origin, claimed “Well we couldn’t do that! Then we wouldn’t have anything left to display!”) So walking around pointing out all the stuff that was essentially stolen by the British Empire at one point or another was amusing. Helpful hint for anyone looking to play this game themselves- that includes pretty much everything in the museum. Boring museums just got a WHOLE lot better due to the invention of this game- you can thank me later.
All kidding aside, we really did get the cultural experience- by my count, we visited 8 museums, including the Tate Modern, the British Museum, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Churchill War Rooms, the Tate Britain, the Natural History Museum, and (ever so briefly) the Victoria and Albert Museum. Not bad for 4 days!
My favorite (excuse me, favourite) was far and away the Churchill War Rooms. They were the British government’s high-level headquarters during WWII, and much of the original contents of the bunker-like space were preserved after V-day. It was so fascinating to hear about the war from a British perspective, and the collection of original interviews and journal entries that they had to listen to or read throughout the exhibit was extremely fascinating. It might be one of my favorite museums ever, and definitely my favorite history-related museum I’ve ever visited.
What are you guys up to today? Things I wish I were doing: baking Christmas cookies, browsing a bookstore at the airport, and maybe going swimming. Not sure where that one came from, but sometimes you just want to channel your inner Michael Phelps. Have a good one!