Museum of London (Nov.2021)

On November 27th I visited London. I took the train from Brighton to London Bridge, paying £8.70 with my Railcard for a return ticket. I got back on the 19.05 direct train to Brighton. I have to say that departing London and arriving in Brighton was a tragic experience, particularly because of Covid, because both stations were absolutely full of people, a significant proportion of whom wearing football scarves and hats. I suppose there was some sort of match both in London and at the American Express Stadium in Falmer.

The weather in London was pretty cold, misty and rainy, so I tried to stay indoors when I had had enough of the… meteorological circumstances. I went into the Museum of London, where I finally managed to get my first coffee of the day (a £3 flat white in the museum cafe, delicious and the people in the cafe were nice). I sustained myself on a fruit & nut mix I had bought at Aldi for 55p, because I knew that hunting for decent(ly cheap) food in London would probably be difficult. Oh, how glad I am that I had brought that snack with me.

The Museum of London is located in London Wall, which is right next to the Barbican. The Barbican Tube station is great to get off for visiting both the Barbican Centre (duh; though not sure if Baker Street is where you get off for the Baking Museum, so maybe not duh?) and MoL. You might already know that I absolutely love the Barbican; the estate was designed in the Brutalist style (specific for some post-war British buildings) by the architecture firm Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. The firm worked from 1952 until 1989. (And all Chamberlin, Powell and Bon died before the year 2000). The characteristic feature of Barbican Estate are its three residential towers (they’re super tall, trust me – and they kind of look like something out of Mordor or the authoritative city from the SimCity Societies PC game). Here’s the ArchDaily AD Classics article on Barbican Estate.*

In this post I put in snaps of the temporary display that’s right at the start of the exhibition walkaround. It features small samples of works of London artists who take inspiration from London and their identity as Londoners. Featured artists include Emily Frances Barrett, who made the cigarette butt earrings (the cigarette butts are totally real!); Loraine Rutt, who created a ceramic artwork prompted by the 1889 Booth map of London (her glazed maps of London show the overlap between multi-million pound housing, in gold, and levels of child poverty, in dark blue – following the socio-economic theme of the Booth map, which was adequately displayed on the wall next to Rutt’s work); Simone Brewster, whose wooden table refers to the sexual objectification and economic exploitation of Black women; and Claire Partington and her “modern mythical figures” of London women. These four artists were my absolute favourite, their work is stunning.

At the Museum of London there is also part of an exhibition dedicated to the new Museum building, to be located in West Smithfield. The scheme has been underway since 2015. It has relied in large measure on donation pledges from private companies, such as Goldsmiths and the Worshipful Company of Weavers. They also have received money from the Linbury Trust and the National Lottery Fund

Read about the Museum of London move here.

The section that drew my attention the most is the one entitled “The Poultry Market: Deep Time, Temporary Time, Imagined Time”. On the website, they talk about ‘time’ as a way of organising space within the new museum:

We have developed a way of thinking about the main spaces that is based on time – the immediacy of real time, the shared experience of our time, the endless fascination of past time, the interrogation of our collections in deep time, the temporary time of changing exhibitions, and the creativity of imagined time. This will shape how we curate the museum’s content and experiences. Section “Distinctive Spaces” [Accessed 9 Dec 2021]

They say they will use the giant former cold store of the Poultry Market building in Smithfield to house the Museum of London’s enormous collection, counting over 7 million objects. This, they say, is “Deep Time”. “Imagined Time” refers to “Imagined London … where we’ll imagine what London might look like in years to come”. There is no dedicated paragraph for “Temporary Time”, but I suppose it might refer to the two big spaces above the Poultry Market that the Museum intends to use for temporary exhibitions.

*I’m building a theory on why I like both Barbican Estate and the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw so much, but it’s not ready yet. Stay tuned.

Published by kotersey

Graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First in geography, and from the University of Brighton with a Master's in history of design and material culture. Probably drinking iced coffee and thinking about buildings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: