Today was an incredible day spent at the British Museum. Our visit lasted well over two hours as we toured every collection; some of them in depth. The audio guide was pretty great in guiding us around some of the larger sections. For example, it helped us navigate the overwhelming Egyptian collection by pointing out a few highlights. As I remembered the Egyptian and Roman sections particularly well from last visits we decided to spend a bit more time in a collection close to my heart – the Mexican collection.
I was so excited to see what they had on display! The audio guide did not have a general tour of this room but there were lots of objects you could hear descriptions about. Seeing the pottery heads they decided to display was fantastic. It was also nice to be able to classify what I could see. The label for the heads simply read: Mexican pottery heads – also something about their headdresses indicating rank etc. It felt the best kind of nerdy being able to actually say well this one means this and this one means this and so on. There were also some pretty cool stone slabs from the Mayan period that took me right back to what I had seen in Mexico earlier this year.
This room would have meant little to me if I had seen it before this year. It’s amazing what six months can do and what you can learn in this time. The Abbey Museum warned me that whatever I chose to research in their collection I would get attached to. And sure enough these little heads amaze me. They are so mysterious – so many questions unanswered. I kind of like the way they have their secrets they won’t tell.
Other than the Mexican collection, I just can’t go past the Egyptian section as a highlight. I mean, the Rosetta Stone is sort of hard to compete with. Judging by the thousands of selfies going on in the space of four minutes (about the length of the audio guide commentary) it’s a crowd pleaser. And why shouldn’t it be. It sits so proud in its glass case – a real archaeological and historical treasure. The mummies as well will always fascinate me no matter how many times I read about the mummification process or about the Egyptian afterlife. There are so many on display here and they all have such fascinating stories.
There is just so much to write about I could go on and on. The Enlightenment Library was also spectacular to see. Glass cases lined up with books and curious items. I enjoyed seeing how the museum would have once appeared. There seems to be this huge theme with museums here combing the past and present in one. Not in a “no duh” kind of way but in a “this is how you might have experienced the museum then and this is it now”. A few have really excelled at this and I like seeing the juxtaposition this provides.
After about two and a half hours we handed our audio guide in. I found a few books on textiles and fashion history that my suitcase would be very angry about if I had purchased. Nevertheless, the museum has a website and I am a willing online customer. Also if you are here on a hot day the vans outside do pretty excellent soft serve ice-cream cones. I like commenting on these things because going to a museum should be an experience, not just seeing a few things then heading off. It should excite and inspire through every means possible. This means being able to eat waffles with soft serve, see the Rosetta Stone and contemplate buying a book too heavy to travel with all in one. No shortcuts. Just a good way to spend a day and be entertained and enlightened.
This is probably my last post for a while. Tomorrow we set off for Brighton and then the Cotswolds. I don’t have any museums planned – just eating. If I stumble into any they will be reviewed. If I don’t then I’ll post again later on! Until then, go and visit a museum!