One of the main reasons I chose London of all countries to have my master’s is the abundance of historical value in the city. It is reflected in the number of museums in the city center and most of them are free for the public. When I was in Indonesia I really love to visit museums and this hobby extended to my London life. Relishing installations in the museum always made me immersed in a certain era, it is like a time machine.
I think the history teacher should consider bringing students to the museum. It is far more exciting and easier to connect the dots of historical events in the museum, instead of remembering dates and years of the war through the lousy thick history books that students like me touch only nearing the exam, lol.
Without further ado, here is the review of 6 museums that I visited during my 6 months stay in London:
1. Victoria and Albert Museum
It is claimed to be one of the biggest design and applied art museums in the world. I guess that’s why I couldn’t visit all of the areas in a day! Let me start with the building’s exterior. It is a combination of terracotta bricks with meticulous tiles and mosaics. When I walked through the front gate, there was a huge trapezoid geometry with millennium-grey color. It is pretty cool but I don’t know whether there is a meaning for it.
This museum is the home of all types of art, be it sculpts, fashion outfits through decades in the past, gate designs, ceramics, etc. Other than to give access to all types of arts all over the world to the public, the aim of this museum is also for educational purposes.
Art students in London would go to this museum and investigate the sculptures or draw them, etc. The museum thinks that it is of importance to display every famous masterpiece around the world so that students could be educated optimally. For this, the museum collaborated with cast-maker to sculpt, such as the notable Michelangelo’s David.
One of the earliest major casts of Italian figure sculpture – Michelangelo’s David – sets the tone for the scale and breadth of the objects to be found in the courts. David, which was constructed by the Florentine cast-maker Clemente Papi in the 1850s, is more than five meters tall and was created from hundreds of pieces of plaster taken directly from the original.
Location: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL, https://goo.gl/maps/eezjcfkLfrr3XTrPA
2.Natural History Museum
This museum located right beside V&A Museum in the museum district in Kensington. It provides almost all the answers about the history of the natural world. From the solar system, the formation of the earth, the primitive era, until now the climate crisis era. If you go here, don’t skip the opportunity to see a giant blue whale skeleton suspended on the ceiling.
One of the most remarkable things about the blue whale is the way that it feeds, and the scientist in the museum said that they tried to reflect that in the position of the skeleton in Hintze Hall.
The whale skeleton was shown in a diving position with its mouth open as though it’s eating on krill. Krill are tiny shrimp-like creatures that are abundant in the ocean, so you’ve got one of the largest animals on the planet known to have existed feeding on some of the smallest.
The “Volcanoes and Earthquakes” room has also caught my attention. It gives an understanding to earthquake-prone countries, including Indonesia.
There is an earthquake simulation room, which depicts the real situation that happened in Japan. When Japan has not found an earthquake building technology, the death rates and destruction were very high. I think it is a nice way to build empathy, since British people never really went through the horror of earthquake.
Location: The National History Museum, Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD, https://goo.gl/maps/GgQxdDtfcWCFCC849
I went to Tate Britain after my friend and I’s regular morning run, it was rather accidental. At that time we were running from the Victoria Tower Garden (one of the Royal Parks there is in London) and decided to run by the River Thames towards the Vauxhall area.
Little did we realize, we reached the Millbank area and screamed “Tate Britain is here?!” because it’s been on the museum check quiet a long time.
Funny how life sometimes gives us an unexpected surprise. Unfortunately, it was not opened yet, so we went for a coffee first.
We entered the museum from the side, welcomed by the gallery of Marie-Louise von Motesiczky – an Austrian painter born in 1906 as a jew in Vienna. She was exiled to several countries due to the attack by the Nazis, and then finally she lived in Britain from 1939 onwards. And then, we went to a room with a completely different vibe.
It was bizarre. I felt like seeing a sculpture of melting human body in this Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Gallery.
It was made by Henry Moore. He has been known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art.
Going to Tate Britain is rather incomplete if you don’t see British artists’ works. You should Look for JMW Turner’s painting! Tate Britain is home to the largest collection of works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851). A master of marine painting, he challenged the style of the old masters, trailblazing in technique and subject matter.
Location: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG, https://goo.gl/maps/ziC2gEXmWJ2o4Xwi8
4. The National Gallery
My first exposure to the National Gallery was when I made a UCL Campus Tour vlog. I found that the Wilkins Building entrance in UCL was designed by William Wilkins who also designed the National Gallery entrance. So yeah I was so curious ever since.
The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in Westminster, Central London. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.
I honestly went to the gallery to witness Monet’s and Van Gogh’s. Monet was the leading French Impressionist landscape painter. Monet moved to London during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. Meanwhile, Van Gogh is today one of the most popular of the post-Impressionist painters. He is now famed for the great exuberance of his works which are characterized by expressive and emotive use of brilliant color and energetic application of paint. Van Gogh was born in Holland, then traveled to London in 1873, and first visited Paris in 1874.
Location: National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, https://goo.gl/maps/5dNar3KzywGybByZ7
5. British Museum
British Museum is a museum dedicated for the history, art and humanity. I’m going to spill the tea from the beginning. British Museum is one of the grandest museums in the UK but also one of the most popular with its controversy at the same time. Notable sources said that the historical installations are mostly looted from the colonization. Quoting this from Vice.com:
The British Museum is home to around 8 million objects. The reality that many of these artefacts – around 99 percent of which are not placed on public display, but hoarded away in the institution’s private archives – were forcibly taken has led to decades-long demands for their restitution.https://www.vice.com/en/article/3abdd3/unfiltered-history-tour-ten-disputed-artefacts-british-museum
However contentious the display here, there are many things that we can learn from the museum.
The room that is still imprinted in my memory would be the Enlightenment room. It showcases the British colonization, war, and industrialization. The African Gallery was felt very comprehensive too for a British museum.
Location: British Museum, Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG, https://goo.gl/maps/uANQqzjFKonf6yeX8
6.Museum of the Home
The first five museums are located in the museum district or central London. This museum is located in a much calmer area in east London but surely worth your travel time. I didn’t know there is such a thing as the ‘home’ museum until my friend introduced me and invited me to visit the museum together. At first, honestly I wasn’t really interested. But since I watched Downton Abbey the TV series, I thought why not! Maybe I can see the museum installation that’s similar to the Downton Abbey setting haha.
When we arrived, we see the decor of living rooms through times in London.
The main living room of the house has various descriptions of the situation – bustling hall, formal living room, cozy living room. Rooms Through Times is based on an original London house and the owners have enough funds to decorate and live comfortably.
Location: Museum of The Home, 136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA https://goo.gl/maps/aHiVgYwPWGdxbLkV8
I hope you enjoy this post. Which one is your favorite museum in London?