Friday, 26 December 2014

Five on Friday: Christmas drink anyone?

Taking five minutes to enjoy five things...

Christmas drink anyone?
I offer you...

at The fan Museum, Greenwich.

on HMS Belfast,
issued daily, 'Up Spirits'.

on the roof of the Brunel Museum.
You'll have to wait until the summer, served by Midnight Apothecary.

Gather round the table for a cuppa in the Second World War
at the Imperial War Museum, London.
Served in the Allpress family's model home
in the Family in Wartime gallery.

Or share your favourite tipple with a friend,
a Viking horn cup each from
The British Museum,
Sutton Hoo Gallery.

I am joining in with Amy with Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.
Please visit the five others who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Want to know more about The Fan Museum, HMS Belfast,
the Brunel Museum and Vikings at the British Museum?
Click on the links below to read my previous posts about them.

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Victorian Walk

With less than a week until Christmas!
You may now have had enough of the shops,
overwhelmed by choice and
perhaps slightly concerned about the cash that seems to be slipping through your fingers.

As an antidote, let me take you shopping
where choice and cash don't feature.
Not window shopping but Victorian shopping at the Museum of London.

Begining with the Toy Shop.
What's on your Christmas list?
Dolls, puzzles, tea-sets, animals two by two?

Whilst out, an opportunity to stop for a quick 'short back & sides' at the Barbers.

This would look fabulous on the Christmas table.

Perhaps you should pop into the bank to check your balance,

withdraw cash,

or if need be, have a little chat with the manager?

 Cakes and bread,
'shop-bought' in Victorian as well as twenty-first century times.

The grocers.

 I seem to have forgotten my list! 

A window onto the twenty-first century
from this Victorian street.

Thirsty work, shopping.
Aren't they supposed to be sat outside in the cold waiting for me?

Head to the shops this Christmas,
visit the Victorian Walk at the Museum of London.
You really won't spend any money, free admission.
More on their website, here.

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Ostrich Egg

in the Discovery for All sessions on a Sunday morning
we are allowed to get objects out of the cabinets for visitors.

Allowing people to handle objects,
touch them, look at them from every angle, feel the weight of them
and probably most importantly encourage more talk about them
than if they were just sat behind glass.

There are the usual objects that capture the public's imagination
I'm always asked to get these things out.
With the object most asked for being the Puffer-fish,
a dried out, hollow, very spikey, puffed up puffer-fish.

Then there are the objects that people hardly ever notice.
In museums these are called 'silent objects',
the less conspicuous objects.
Such as the Ostrich Egg.
Asked for today by a family of five.

It was cold, it was white (ish), covered in tiny dots, "like an orange"
and felt much less fragile than you would have thought.

Kid: "What's inside? Is there a chick inside?"

Mum: "No, it's like our eggs, you know, with a yolk."

Kid: "Why is there a hole in the end"

Me: "That's to get what's inside out. Like blowing eggs."

Mum: "I wonder how many pancakes you can make using that egg?
Between these lot, they have about four each,
I make pancakes every Sunday morning."

I comment on how nice this is, try and cadge an invite.

"Nice for them, I've got to get up and make them,
and do the washing up too."
Mum is smiling, it obviously is a much loved family tradition.

As for what gives 'silent objects' a voice?
Well in this case, breakfast.

I sent them off to the natural history gallery to double check it was an Ostrich Egg.

You can see the holes,
must have needed quite a bit of puff to blow those eggs.

Sometimes though, you get a chick.

Discovery for All is in the Hands On Base in the Horniman Museum
every Sunday and sometimes in the school holidays.
Details on their website here.

If you're interested in my posts on those 'loud' objects, the ones that get noticed most often,
and would like to see more of whats in the Hands on Base in the Horniman Museum,
here are the links:

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Bethlem Museum of the Mind

There is only a week left to see the current incarnation

Louis Wain

At present it is a very small museum.

Showing some of a huge collection of works of art,
part of the (hi)story of mental health care in the Maudsley Hospitals.

All the work has all been produced by current and former patients
whether they have had any formal art training or not.

Next to the paintings are labels,
which along with the artist's name and date,
tell us why, when and how they came to be patients of the Bethlem Royal Hospital.
Very moving.

I'll just tell you about a couple of the artists in the museum
who do happen to have have gone to art school,
however this is not a prerequisite for having your work on display.

Louis Wain.
Three years into his marriage, he began painting their cat,
who at the time gave great comfort to his wife with breast cancer.
Sadly she died, but not before encouraging him to sell his work.

His cat paintings captured the public's imagination.
His work was published in children's books, magazines, in the papers and in journals.
He also had his own annual published, over a period of twenty years.

He was recognised as a public authority on cats
with his theories about them giving off electricity, being magnetic and hating orange peel.

It wasn't all cats though,
as these beautiful gouache paintings of nature demonstrate,
produced during his struggle with his mental health in later years.

During our visit we comment that this painting reminds us
of brightly coloured embroidered tablecloths,
lots of small brush strokes that could well have been stitched in thread.

These two paintings were produced by Marion Patrick.

Admitted to hospital at only fifteen years old,
she later went to art college.

Even in this small space,
there are so many painings to look at.

Each with a story and challenge for the viewer.
This is especially true for 'The Maze' by William Kurelek.
which leaves us speechless with the portrayal of his mind.
His painting depicts a compartmentalised cross-section of his skull.
A labyrinth of scenes from his life,
with a rat trapped right in the middle with no way out,
who seems to have abandoned his escape and has stopped gnawing at the walls.

The Bethlem Museum of the Mind temporarily closes mid December.
It will move house and is set to reopen in a new building in February 2015
with a new gallery and learning spaces.

It will be worth a visit as it continues to follow its remit
of campaigning for access to the arts in healthcare environments.

As we left the Bethlem Museum I was struck by two things;
the opportunity that the patients had to create
and the value the hospital gave the patients and their work
by providing a place to exhibit it.
Art training or no art training,
I loved that!

More information on Bethlem Museum of the Mind
on their website, here.

I will be back in February to post about the new incarnation of
Bethlem Museum of the Mind.
Very much looking forward to it.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Walking Out Cane

Sometimes you don't realise that you have a question until you have the answer.
This happened to me the other day at the RAF Museum, London on meeting a volunteer from the Great War Society.

This is Ian from the Royal Flying Corp at the ready to chat to visitors in the RAF Museum, London, with his Walking Out Cane, demonstrating how to use it.

Walking with the cane.

Standing to attention.

At ease.


Oh, and that brings to me to my question...
"What's a Walking Out Cane?"

"Makes you look smart."
"Keeps your hands out your pockets."

Actually my first question was, "what's that?"
Before today I didn't even know what they were called.

"Thanks Ian."
Also a big thanks to the Great War Society and the many volunteers who help to bring objects in museums alive.

We had this chat in the First World War in the Air gallery at the RAF Museum, London.
More information on the website here.

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