The Wallace Collection was recommended to me by an Australian VT-member, when we met up in a bar for a London-Calling meeting. From what she told me it sounded amazing. The day after I went to visit the gallery, and was not disappointed.
The Wallace Collection is now a national museum at Hertford house, consisting of 29 galleries, each one of them containing art treasures. It was a private collection of the 3rd and 4th Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, who was the son of the 4th Marquess. They collected exquisite art work in the 18th and 19th century. But the previous 2 Marquesses also contributed to the collection. Lady Wallace donated the collection to the British nation in 1897. It is the finest art collection assembled by one family.
This is a fascinating collection, unbelievable how much this family collected, what passion for the collection. I even found an Icelandic drinking horn, made from bull horn, from ca 1650 at the Wallace Collection. Such varied is their colleciton.
But the main collection consists of French 18th century paintings, porcelain, furniture and all kinds of art work. In one gallery one can see a large collection of beautiful miniatures and gold boxes. In another paintings of the Old Masters, etc, etc - truly amazing. And the rooms at the gallery are a work of art, where ever I looked it was a feast for the eyes.
It is a pity that VT only allows for 5 photos with a tip, as I had difficulties selecting photos, some photos of remarkable art I had to leave behind, as it were.
Opening hours: 10:00-17:00.
Photos without flash are allowed.
I stumbled upon this museum by accident, really. It is not flashy, as it were. I was there taking photos of The Bank of England and wanted to get a close up of one of the gold statues on top, when I saw that there was a museum with free admittance. So I jumped at the chance and decided on popping in.
The staff was so lovely and for security reasons they had to search my bag at the security check.
The Museum was opened in November 1988 by the Queen. At the museum one can learn all about the history of the bank, which was founded in 1694. The nick-name for the Bank of England is "The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street" :)
What impressed me the most at the museum was the goldbar, which one was allowed to lift up by putting one´s hand inside the heavily secured glass-case, containing the gold-bar. It was surprisingly heavey (13 kilos). There is a HUGE storage of gold-bars at the Bank of England, the nation´s whole treasure of gold-bars. At the museum one can see and read up on the part gold played in the bank´s history.
What surprised me is that counterfitting was so common - even though the punishment for counterfitting was the capital punishment. In one part of the museum one can see the security features which the Bank of England takes in the fight against forgery. I saw the same thing at the British museum, pound coins whiche were fake, but looked totally real. And the amount of counterfit money that is in circulation is amazing.
At the bank one can learn how banknotes are designed and made. And try to control inflation by a lever... quite difficult. It is the role of the Bank of England to set interest rates and control inflation.
The Bank of England was one of the first institutions in the City to employ women in 1894.
The Bank of England got nationalised in 1946 - from being founded in 1694 as a chartered joint stock company.
As you enter the museum the first room you enter is a reconstruction of the Bank Stock office, which was built in 1793 - by the architect Sir John Soane (see my tip on his home). In 1734 the bank moved to Threadneedle Street (the entrance to the museum is not on that street though). I have always loved the name of this street. When I was studying in London back in 1987 I used to walk down through City from Old street and down to Southwark bridge road, where I lived for a couple of months. The name of this street sounded so nice to me, Threadneedle Street :D The building has been through major alterations through the centuries.
The first bank-manager (governor) was a Huguenot, Sir John Houblon. The bank is the only bank (since 1708) which can issue banknotes. From 1780, when rioters stormed the Bank of England, until 1973, a military guard was employed to guard the bank - that is how the saying "As safe as the Bank of England" originated. Up to the late nineteenth century the bank had private customers, but from that time it became a government´s bank.
There is a lot of silver objects on display as the bank owns a large selection of silver, many of the artefacts date back to the opening of the bank.
No photos are allowed - probably for security reasons as well, so I only add photos from outside the museum.
Entrance fee: Free.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 10:00 - 17:00.
This museum was the former home of Sir John Soane (1753-1837), the British architect who designed the Bank of England. It has been preserved in exactly the way he specified ? as a museum. It is full of Greek and Roman marble statues, sculptures and busts which he used to inspire and educate his students at the Royal Academy where he was a professor of architecture. There are also rooms for his many paintings ? the most famous of which is Hogarth's 'A Rakes Progress'.
The rooms open to the public are on 3 floors and a there is also a crypt. The dining room, library, study, dressing room and picture rooms are all manned by knowledgeable staff who will gladly answer any questions.
Entry is free to the museum. Photography is not allowed inside the building and large bags and rucksacks must be left downstairs in case any of the ancient artefacts are accidentally knocked off their shelves! It is interesting how in the downstairs drawing room all the chairs have a teasle placed on them - a dried thistle - to prevent visitors from sitting down! If you really need to sit down you can always go to Lincoln's Inn Field park just across the road from the house.
There is a gallery called the Brunei Gallery at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, at the University of London. This is the only University in the UK which specialises in the study on Africa, Asia and the Near and Middle-East.
The Brunei Gallery is a small gallery, which is in the Museum Mile brochure, so I went there to have a look. Its goal is to promote a better understanding of the history, culture and art in these countries.
The gallery is on 3 floors, with some temporary exhibitions, on the ground floor were beautiful, textile, cloth and clothes from different parts of Africa, Asia and the Near and Middle-East. All were made of natural fibres with natural dyestuffs. Walking down steps into another show-room is more beautiful cloth and clothes - it was a pure delight visiting it.
On the ground floor in an additional show-room are real treasures, books and artefacts from Africa, Asia and the Near and Middle-East. Exquisite work of art. There were illustrated books there as well, Chinese and Japanese paintings, a 16th century Islamic book on animal fables, the Bible and the Koran and more and more. It was not allowed to take photos in that show-room, but everybody was taking photos in the other show-rooms, so I gather that it was allowed. But there are photos on their website of some of the artefacts in the show-room.
On the second floor is a photo exhibition from an Indian religious festival in London. On the roof there is a Japanese Roof Garden, but seeing I was alone on this floor I didn´t know if I could go out and have a look, so I just admired it from afar.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 10:30-17:00. On Thursdays they are open until 20:00 like many other museums and galleries. Sunday and Monday closed.
You know, it's amazing the things that are on your doorstep that you don't know about. I recently discovered the Museum in Docklands, less than a mile from my home. It is dedicated to the "Old Father" Thames and the docks area, and really is very highly recommended. It is situated in an old converted warehouse, lending added authenticity to the whole experience.
There are a number of audio visual displays (narrated by Tony Robinson) and many interesting exhibits and displays. You start on the third floor and work down, and it is a chronological history of the area from Roman times up to 1997.
There is a film exhibition of the Blitz including previously unseen Fire Brigade footage - fascinating.
Perhaps my favourite exhibit is Sailortown, a reconstruction of the area I live in several centuries ago.
Admission is £5 for adults but the ticket is valid for a year, and includes admission to Museum of London exhibitions, so pretty good value, I think.
Fully wheelchair accessible.
The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is one of the museums of the UCL, University College London. It is in the Museum Mile brochure. It is a small museum, kind of hidden away, but a highly recommended visit. One wouldn´t even tell from looking at it from outside that it were a museum, but inside are true treasures. If you want to see dresses older than the pyramids, then the Petrie Museum is the place to visit.
When I arrived the curator gave me a flashlight, with instructions not to shine it into my eyes, as the light were extremely strong. But the flashlight was needed to shine a light into the many showcases, where there was little light. Then he told me to not to forget to visit the showroom with the oldest dresses from Ancient Egypt, as they were very important. And not to forget to open a door on the right leading to another small section of the museum. But I should not try to open a red door, close to the door leading to that special section, as that would trigger all kinds of alarm. I was totally confused, but managed to find all that he had instructed me to find, without triggering all kinds of alarm ;)
At the museum one can see two dresses from Deshasheh, which are the oldest pieces of clothing to survive from Ancient Egypt, dating back to Dynasty 5 (2494-2343 BC). They were found in 1897 in Deshasheh by Petrie. Crimping was used on the fabric to make them stretch. It was very difficult to take a decent photo of the dresses, which were in a showcase, with humidity and temperature levels monitored. But seeing that this part of the museum had such narrow corridors I could only take a photo from the side of the showcase. There were showcases all along the museum walls with various kinds of ceramic jars and beautiful artefacts. And a lot of necklaces/beads made of various semi-precious minerals, found in the graves.
In another showroom there was a 5000 year old tunic on display. And a dress of a dancer made entirely of a net of beats from ca 2400 BC.
There are more than 80.000 objects at the museum, so it takes a while walking through it. The museum contains one of the greatest collections of Egyptian archaeology in the world. And a Sudanese collection as well.
There are such detailed objects in the long showcases, here are shoes, socks and sandals, combs, jewellery, clay artefacts, endless small objects. It gave me a feeling of closeness to these people, living such a long time ago, they were just doing the same stuff we were doing, going about their lives.
There are also several mummy portraits from the Roman period (100-200 AD) - in fact the museum contains the largest number of mummy portraits in the world.
There is a special Egyptian section at the British Museum, which is very good and comprehensive, but walking through the showcases at the Petrie Museum in peace and quiet is also highly recommended.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 13:00–17:00.
William Matthews Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) was a very noted Egyptologist and escavated in many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt. In 1913 Petrie sold his collection to the UCL. His life-story and work is well worth reading up on, but seeing that my tip has become very long, although I have only touched on few of the objects at the Petrie museum, then I can only urge people interested in archaeology in Egypt to read up on Flinders Petrie.
Apsley House was the home to one of the Greatest British Heroes - The Duke of Wellington. (Battle of Waterloo).
Back in the 18thC it was one of a row of houses but now stands isolated at the junction of Piccadilly, Knightsbridge, Park Lane, Constitution Hill and Grosvenor Place and behind it is Hyde Park, with the gardens of Buckingham Palace beyond.
The house was built by Robert Adam between 1771 and 1778 for Baron Apsley and was given the unofficial address of "Number 1 London" because it was the first house one came across after passing through the tollgate at the end of Knightsbridge. Back in the 18thC this was where London began.
Apsley House is owned and managed by English Heritage and cost visitors £5.10 entry. It is more of an art gallery now and many many portrait and landscape paintings and sculptures are exhibited here, including works by Bruehgel, Reynolds, Rubens, van Dyke, Carravaggio and Goya. It is possible to see the Drawing Room, the Waterloo Gallery, Inner and Outer Halls and there are displays of china and other exquisite artefacts belonging to the Wellington family.
At the Grand Staircase with its gold ballustrade stands the magnificent statue of Canova's Napoleon. This was in fact commissioned by Napoleon himself and once stood in the Louvre in Paris. The British Government bought it in 1816 and George IV presented it to Wellington. It stands at 3.5m and is very impressive!
The Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly is sometimes overlooked by visitors when compared to the many other fine galleries scattered around London.
It is good to see that the permanent exhibition is now free - and this is well worth a visit to see some old masters.
They often host special exhibitions and most famously of all the "Summer Exhibition" which it holds every year in...er...um.....the summer.
This event has been going since 1769 and is the biggest 'open' exhibtion in the world. Anybody can enter three pieces of art and around one thousand are selected for the exhibition itself.
Entries range from traditional paintings to avant-garde art, video installations, scuplture, architectural models and prints.
I especially like the fact that they are all mixed up together on the walls and floors and most of the pieces are actually on sale - from about eighty pounds for a limited edition print up to about 80,000 pounds for a piece by a more famous (even if sourbugger doesn't know them from Adam) artist.
Well worth the entry ticket of five pounds or so.
London's Transport Museum in Covent Garden is currently closed for renovation until Summer 2007. Fascinating place documenting the history of public transport in the capital, I haven't visited for many years but on my recent shopping trip to Covent Garden I noticed a lot of work going on here.
Update - As from 22/11/07, the museum has re-opened!
There is a lovely small gallery at the UCL, The University College London, The Flaxman Gallery. I had got a brochure "Museum Mile" and three of the galleries were at the UCL. While looking for the UCL Art Museum at the Strang Print Room, which is small and contains drawings, plaster models and prints by John Flaxman, I was told to have a look at the Flaxman Gallery, which is not listed in the "Museum Mile". And they gave me a very good brochure with photos from the gallery.
The Flaxman Gallery is at the UCL Main Library in the Wilkins Building. One has to get a visitor´s pass and sign in and out and go through a security gate.
The Flaxman Gallery is so beautiful, small, round and probably a meeting point for students, but I love sculptures, so I would not have missed it. In the middle of the gallery is a sculpture of St. Michael overcoming Satan (1819-1824). The finished sculpture is at Petworth House in West-Sussex.
John Flaxman (1755-1826) was the leading sculptor in England in his time - his work is so good, it takes one to another world. He studied art in Rome and his work is in Neoclassical style. Here at the gallery one can find the largest single group of work by Flaxman. He was one of the first sculptors to use plaster models. The plaster models are at the Flaxman Gallery. Flaxman became the first professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy.
Larger works of Flaxman are f.ex. the Monument to Lord Nelson at St. Paul´s Cathedral.
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday from 09:30-20:45, Friday from 10:00-20:45, Saturday from 11:00-17:45, Sunday closed.
There are a plethora of small museums in London, and I, to my shame, haven't visited half of them. In an attempt to rectify this recently, I visited the Jewish Museum in Camden, and I'm really glad I did. It is not very large but has a wonderful collection of artefacts relating to the history of Jews in London.
There are audio visual displays giving an insight into Jewish customs, religious ceremonies etc. which was extremely interesting. There are also temporary exhibitions. At the minute (April 2005) it is in relation to 100 years of the Aliens Act.
The Museum is staffed by volunteers, mostly elderly Jewish pwople who are extremely helpful and will give you virtually a one-on-one guided tour. Well worth a visit.
There is a sister museum in Finchley, but I haven't visited it - yet!
Admission is £3:50 for adults.
Have a look at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. A great idea. Although the materdetective has never existed, he has an own museum. Where? Baker Street 221b of course. Have a look. This is fun. And if you remember the books, you might have an even better experience.
Hackney, in the heart of the east end of London is where I was born, and so on a hot June day thought it would be a good idea to go back and have a little look around.
My idea was to find the Hackney Museum which I had read about previously and was easy enough to find. Take a number 48 or 242 bus from Liverpool Street directly to Mare Street (get off at Hackney Central station).
Using hands on and audio visual displays, the museum explores and celebrates the massive cultural diversity within Hackney over the past 1000 years, from early German settlers through to the Asian, West Indian, Jewish, Turkish, and a whole host of other minorities who sought refuge and work here.
The museum is situated within a recently opened "Learning Complex" and is easily accessible to disabled visitors is free to enter. It was totally absorbing exhibition, with friendly and helpful staff. If you are in the area it would be worth visiting.
Further details, including opening times are listed in the website
I revisted here on the 10th Nov 07 with RhineRoll - Win is always reluctant to try the traditional Londoners food of pie and mash and jellied eels when he comes to London - and so this is the next best thing.. in the fourth photo he is in the Pie and Mash shop in the museum!!
The museum is fully accessible to wheelchair visitors.
Although it is slightly off the beaten track, this museum is well worth a visit for anyone interested in modern design, and its great setting on the river adds to its appeal. There are no permanent exhibits; instead the museum has a regularly changing programme of special exhibitions. As an example, the current one features the work of architect Richard Rogers. The website gives details of future plans – one forthcoming exhibition that I like the sound of is Design Cities:
Design Cities tells the story of contemporary design through seven key cities at their creative height: London (1851), Vienna (1908), Dessau (1928), Paris (1936), Los Angeles (1949), Milan (1957), Tokyo (1987) and London (2008). The exhibition will feature a full range of objects from textiles and fashion to industrial pieces, furniture and prints. It will include design classics such as chairs by Charles and Ray Eames, as well as work by a spectrum of designers that together will evoke an impacting impression of their era. Key exhibits will include work by William Morris, Christopher Dresser, Adolf Loos, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Achille Castiglioni, Issey Miyake and Ron Arad.
The museum is open daily 10.00 AM - 5.00 PM. Unlike many of London’s museums, there is an admission charge: £8.50 for adults, £6.50 concessions and £5 students – children under 12 get in free (but are likely to be bored by the exhibits).
There is a small café and a shop selling a good range of books on design as well as some examples of well-designed items such as stationery. Entry to the café and shop is free, so you can visit these even if you don’t want to go to an exhibition.
Charles Dickens lived at 48 Doughty Street, a typical Georgian town house, from 1837 for two years from the age of 25. He was just married to Catherine and her sister Mary also lived here with them. It was in this house that he wrote Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers amongst others.
The rooms are on 4 levels, (basement, ground and two upper floors). There is a short video presentation, a patio garden area, and small gift shop. Rooms open to the public include his drawing room, Mary Hogarths bedroom (where she died in Dickens' arms), a wine vault, washroom and library and his writing desk.
Entry is £5 and there is unfortunately no disabled access.