6.26.2013

Wednesday in London: Museum Mecca

The great thing about London is that so many museums are free. Wednesday, I devoted my time to seeing The British Museum, The National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery.

The British Museum: They tell you to take the whole day to see it. Maybe, if you want to shoulder through everyone taking pictures to take the time to read the plaques. It is an exercise in photobombing every single person visiting London who thinks they need to take a picture of the Rosetta stone behind glass. And they do need to, because where else are they going to find that kind of translation aid, except on those plastic bags that tell you don't-use-it-as-a-toy-or-you'll-suffocate, very thoroughly in every language.

Rosetta Stone. All those languages,
and I couldn't read it at all!

It is also amazing as a record of British Imperial History. This is clear from the first room, which looks like they ripped huge chunks out of the set of The Mummy. I really enjoyed being there, at first, the whole place had me Indiana Jonesing for a treasure hunt. But the sheer volume of people to push through also kind of made the experience being stuck in the Tube at rush hour. #SummerTouristProblems

This head was huge. 

Maybe I should have photographed the tourists for contrast. But I was trying to pretend that they didn't exist, and that I was on the set of the Mummy.

You get a great sense that wall-carvings are really the way to tell the story of a civilization.
Too bad the civilizations lost their stories to a museum.

After a while, I started to imagine that Egypt was completely empty of old things--except for the pyramids, of course, because those are bolted down.

These girls will never get ahead in life.
They've been here since 1817.
Tourists! Taking pictures! The horror! It really did get tiring.

After all of that, I walked through the city until I got to The National Portrait Gallery and The National Gallery. It was kind of a lot of walking, but it was great to see paintings after all the cultural objects. There was a great display of contemporary artists who are really very good and whose names I instantly forgot.

Lion around Trafalgar Square.

Those museums have a no-photos policy, so I was able to look around in peace, and it was much more relaxing, and involved less people dodging. Highlights: I saw the famously horrible portrait of Kate Middleton, surrounded by people tsking at how awful the artist had made her look. Shortly afterwards I came across the ugly duchess, and decided that Kate's portrait could be worse.

The British Museum is right on Trafalgar Square.

I always used to get Trafalgar Square and Tienanmen Square confused...
Fun fact: the place where Ben Franklin used to live is very close,
also the place TS Eliot used to live, but he doesn't get a museum.
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