Saturday, 11 January 2014

At The British Museum

Those of you who have been following my blogs for a while will know that The British Museum is one of my favourite London destinations. The contents of the museum and the building itself are inspirational. I love the Great Court, a two acre area enclosed by this beautiful glass roof, designed by Sir Norman Foster and opened in 2000. The quality of light is wonderful and it's the perfect place to sit and re-coup, meet-up or have a snack before plunging back into whatever is on show.
There is always such a lot to see and learn. On this visit the Welcome Trust Gallery had an exhibition called, 'Cradle to Grave'. The central area of the room was taken up with a textile installation comprising over 14,000 prescription drugs, the estimated average prescribed to every person in Britain over their lifetime.
What an enormous amount of pills! It was very thought-provoking to see a life set out and described in this way.
The pills were stitched in orderly fashion onto mesh and the whole piece resembled a strip of decorative fabric, a rice tie-die or similar.
Around the walls of the room and in various display cases were objects and images to show attitudes to life events in differing cultures. I was moved to see the poem by Raymond Carver that I had used on my mother's funeral sheet printed on a wall.
Other poets were referenced of whom I've never heard. Sheenagh Pugh, how lovely, I shall have to look her up!
I had only intended to be passing through the Welcome Gallery on my way to somewhere else, but that's how it is at the museum, you become waylaid and fascinated by something that you weren't expecting!
Then I trotted off to room 49 and heard an excellent talk about gods and goddess' s in Roman Britain.
You could lose me in this place for years!


  1. Beautiful museum, like all the museums I visited in the UK so far. They are nothing like the museums in Vienna. Free admisson makes the difference! And the spirit of the staff, they seem to be proud of their workplace. At least that's what I experienced in Scotland. I hope it is the same in London!
    Those pills are quite something. Phew!

  2. Oh I do agree that free admission makes a huge difference. The museum was humming with activity, all ages and nationalities. There were a number of school parties. The talk that I attended was given with great enthusiasm and sound knowledge conveyed with a lightness of touch. As I was leaving the Roman talk a group of children were gathered round a member of staff who was telling them about various artefacts and encouraging them to handle the pieces. "Do you know who owns this museum and all the things in it?" she asked them. "You do!" The children looked quite overawed and then excited by the idea. I thought what a wonderful thing it was to say to them.

  3. I have only been to the British Museum once, but what an amazing place! I did not recall it was free, which makes it doubly special!

    1. Funding is obviously a big problem for museums and galleries but I believe that it's important that they remain free and available to all. On my visit it was full of parties of school children quite goggle-eyed with excitement!

  4. I haven't been to the BM for years, but it still looks as good, if not even more so. The pill display is really quite disturbing. These wonderful establishments must be fought for in future, to ensure that they remain a free and accessible resource to all. What was your favourite bit this time?

    1. My favourite bit continues to be Norman Foster's glass roof which has transformed the Great Court, creating a central heart to the whole place, somewhere so pleasant to be. After the enclosed galleries and close focus on objects it is uplifting to step back into this generous area of natural light - a visual delight!
      Yes, the display of pills was rather shocking.