Sunday, July 31, 2011

The British Musuem

I had the privilege of having the time to visit such a wonderful museum. The British Museum is huge with many rooms and expeditions. It’s a little over whelming because there is just so much to look at. It would take more than one day to see everything. I decided to focus on a few things I really wanted to see and go check them out. It has around 7 million objects representing human culture and history. It was founded in 1753 in which it became the first public national museum. About 6 million people visit this museum a year. As I entered I was amazed by how elaborate and decorative it was. This museum is free to the public so they appreciate the many generous donations by patrons. The thousands of ancient statues from ancient Egypt amazed me. Not many people are able to say they have seen the Rosetta stone. The Rosetta stone is a decree with Greek, Demotic, and Hieroglyphs engraved in the stone. It is said that languages were inspired by this stone. Today when learning a language many use the Rosetta stone program. Another interesting display were pieces of the Roman Parthenon. Also there were many beautiful jewels and crowns from ancient Japan and Greece. I loved this museum because there were many interesting exhibits and things I have learned about in school. Some of the exhibits change throughout the year so I am glad I was there when such great artifacts were present. This is a must see museum and I am so glad that I decided to visit during my short month in London.

-Jennifer Bell

-Rosetta Stone


         I was able to visit and witness an exclusive artefact exhibit at the O2 located on the Greenwich peninsula. As I enetered I was given a card with a passengers name, their class, and a little bio about them. Towards the end the vistors were able to see if his or her passenger survived or not.  I was Mrs. John Jacob Astor for the afternoon. A day in a life for Madeleine (me) would have been a life of privilege. At eighteen years old I married John Jacob Astor.  Madeleine's life would forever change marrying John Jacob. He was quite a bit older than her which was quite the scandal. Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob would board the Titanic with their personal valet, maid,and nurse. The family dog named Kitty would join them as well. On that fateful night Mr. John Jacob would not survive along with his valet named Victor Robbins.  Madeleine survived along with her personal maid and nurse. Madeleine was able to comfort a third class child by offering her scarf to keep the child warm. She survived a widow and she was now a single mother.                                          

           I really enjoyed this exhibt because of the exciting yet educational artefacts. I got to travel back in time with room recreations, compelling stories, and more than 300 artefacts. Many of the display cases had artefacts that had never had been seen. They created a ice sculpture to shape like an iceburg to demonstrate how cold it was that dreadful night. The stories and eyewitness accounts really put things into perpespective. Titanic was supposed to be "unsinkable" and it claimed more than 1,500 lives on April 15th 1912. As a young child I watched Jack and Rose take the silver screen. After reading real life stories and seeing stuff taken from the Titanic I realized its much more than a fictional love story. I got to touch a part of the ship that was taken from the wreckage. This exhibition was very successful and I enjoyed it very much. This exhibition is available to buy tickets at various prices and is open from 11 am to 6:30 pm most nights and 8 pm on the weekends. This is something for any age to appreciate. I highly reccomend this exhibit and am so glad that I had the chance to go.

-Jennifer Bell

Coming Aboard the RMS Titanic: The Titanic Artifacts Exhibit

Since I watched James Cameron’s Titanic when I was eight, I have been fascinated with the sinking of the infamous ship.  The film actually was one of the first movies to peak my interest in the film industry.  Having this interest in the ship’s sinking, I knew I had to go see the Titanic Exhibit at London’s O2 when I saw the posters advertised around London on the Tubes and streets. 

The exhibit had many items found in the ship’s wreckage along with commentary that helped put together the pieces of the ship’s demise.  Everything from the bell that was rung to announce the iceberg that was right ahead to different passenger’s personal items.  The personal nature of the exhibit was very fascinating.  They really wanted to make you experience the ship’s journey.  Different bios on notable passengers helped to grasp some context of who was on the ship along with connecting the factual information of the ship’s passengers with the story told in the film.  Many of the characters I recognized immediately, which was an added bonus as I worked to connect the fictional storyline with that of the people who really were on the ship.  There were items in different viewing cases, also, that researchers uncovered and paired with particular passengers.  One case had a woman’s perfume sample collection belonging to someone who made perfume.  Visitors were actually able to smell the scent through small holes in the glass, which provided a great experience. 

Visitors were also able to get to know one passenger personally during their time in the exhibit as everyone received a boarding pass of an actual passenger when they entered the exhibit.  I received the pass of a Mr. Kimball who was a first class passenger traveling with his wife.  Both he and his wife survived.  To figure out the outcome of your passenger, visitors needed to look at a list at the end that had who lived and died according to class or crew.  Seeing the list really made the experience come to life.

I also really liked the way that the exhibit compared and contrasted the conditions of passengers in different classes.  Different display cases had items like dishware that had commentary on how according to class the dishes had varied designs from intricate and elegant designs for first class to more simplistic yet stunning images on those for second class to ones with simply the White Star Line logo printed on it for third class.  A life-sized display of the living quarters for a first class and third class citizen provided a perfect idea of what things on the ship were like.  The interesting thing was that the third class wasn’t really too terrible as people would assume.  One of the commentaries said that those planning the ship’s events and layouts made sure to make the “steerage” (another name for third class) nice enough so that passengers would ride in those quarters since they really needed their money (averaging around 8 pounds per ticket or over 500 pounds today).

I truly enjoyed the exhibit throughout.  Getting to touch a huge chunk of ice the temperature of the water that fateful night was quite interesting, and it brought the reality of the event to life.  I was saddened to learn at the end that the wreckage should collapse entirely in the next 40-90 years due to corrosion and the pressure at the depths where it lays.  Thankfully excavators have preserved much of the ship’s contents so as to preserve the history of the wreck many years after the ship is no longer intact.

--John Barr

The London Film Museum

With my goal of working in the film industry, I had been very keen on visiting the London Film Museum during my stay in London.  The museum is located right across from the London Eye on the south bank of the Thames River.  Items in the museum ranged from movie memorabilia to interactive activities focusing on recent hit films to some from a while back. 

One of the main exhibits that I spent a good amount of time in was the Harry Potter exhibit.  The movie had an entire large circular room dedicated to the film series.  Along the walls were different activities for visitors to participate in from Harry Potter card games to Harry Potter video games.  One activity that I took part in was the photo booth, which came free with the ticket to the museum.  In front of a green screen, I chose a wizards cloak and then stood upon a wooden broomstick.  After the photographer took a few shots, I got off and chose my favorite shot.  The one I chose had myself reaching out for a snitch as I was flying through the Hogwarts Quidditch field.  In the center of the exhibit, there were cloaks from each of the three main characters and also two broomsticks and a few textbooks from the third movie.

Another exhibit that I really enjoyed was the Charlie Chaplain exhibit.  There were many scripts and memorabilia from his films and even a small theater where visitors could view some excerpts from his films.  I haven’t seen very many of his films, but I was intrigued to see things from the film industry’s early beginnings. 

Other notable items in the museum included costumes and memorabilia from the Batman Begins, Superman II and the Bourne Identity movies.  There also was a room that had some of the costumes from the new Conan movie, which was exciting.  The trailer was playing on the wall with the extravagant costumes surrounding the screen.  This movie has not even gone to theaters yet, so seeing the costumes and such made me want to see the film even more.

Overall, the museum was a very great experience.  With my passion for film, it is always nice to find great exhibits such as the London Film Museum.

--John Barr

The National Gallery

The National Gallery in London is perfectly placed. Outside of it is Trafalgar Square, with the iconic Nelson’s Column towering in its center. It is a symbol of British pride, a way of keeping the past alive. Inside the gallery, the past also lives. For art students especially, this gallery provides a perfect opportunity to see some of these paintings from the humble beginnings of the Renaissance and the artists influenced by such a famous time.

Paintings from 1200 to 1900 give an inside look into European life, influences and culture. One thing that dominates the early periods (from late 1400s to mid-1600s) is religion. The Catholic Church is very prominent in most of these paintings, and the Bible seems to provide the perfect inspiration with its stories of love, sacrifice and its teachings. Elaborate paintings tell the story of Sampson and Delilah and the “Death of St. Peter Martyr.” But, most are made original by the artist. Many feature Biblical figures as if they lived in Europe, dressing them like lords and ladies.

As time moves forward, there appears to be a shift toward landscape art and paintings portraying European life. Festivals and parties in Mediterranean-style squares or sunsets on the beach are painted with a wide range of colors, elements and styles specific to a certain region. The good thing is if you go to this museum with little to no knowledge of what styles come from where, all there is to know about a painting is written out right there beside it. This makes the paintings come to life in a completely different way.

My personal favorites are paintings that depict historic events or times. The execution of Lady Jane Grey is portrayed in a breathtaking piece. You can sense the drama within the towering piece and it calls attention to itself even when mixed with so many other beautiful paintings. The National Gallery provides a new appreciation but also a new perspective on European history and how it has influenced its people. With history and life portrayed so strikingly, it is no wonder history seems to survive here much more than in the United States.

by: Adam Troxtell

The Victoria and Albert Museum

After spending several hours in the sprawling Victoria and Albert museum I chose to focus my attention on the European sculpture rooms and the jewelry rooms. I had two immediate favorites in the European sculpture rooms. They were a set that were both created by Alfred Stevens in 1867-1868. The imposing statues are titled Truth and Falsehood and Valour and Cowardice. Truth and falsehood depicts a female truth ripping the forked tongue our of male falsehood's mouth. She towers over him and his serpentine tails flail madly at her feet. The sister to the statue, Valour and Cowardice shows a female valour crushing cowardice beneath her shield and sword. I thought it was very interesting that both of the upright characters in the scenes were female and I loved the powerful message behind both of these statues. 

The second part of the museum I focused on was the jewelry rooms. Unfortunately pictures were not allowed for security reasons, but it was absolutely beautiful. The museum boasts an astounding 3,500 jewel collection that spans many time periods from all over the world. Some of the oldest pieces were estimated to be around 800 years old. The jewelry was arranged in lit glass cases and was arranged by time period. I was particularly fond of a snuff box designed by Faberge for Czar Nicholas II of Russia. The jewelry rooms also have a unique computer system for museum visitors so that the collection can be searched by time period, stone or material, designer, or who the piece belonged to or was donated by. 
The Victoria and Albert museum's tagline states that they are "the world's greatest museum of art and design," I personally have not been to all the museums in the world, so I cannot say whether that statement is true, but I would highly recommend that anyone make a pit-stop to this museum when in London.

by Jessica Holliday

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Somerset House Trust

Recently I ventured to the Somerset House. At first I believed it to be a history on the people who once owned them home, hence the name it was given. However, I found that I wasn’t quite sure on what I had ventured into. I found out the the Somerset House was a gallery and an institution by the sweet lady standing behind a table filled with flyers. When I went they were in progress of an event.

The Somerset house is one of the UK’s finest and largest 18th century building. It is a world class attraction in the arts. It reminded me a little of the Louvre. I was fascinated by the paintings but most importantly the ceiling. Ceilings can be easily over looked when someone is strolling through a gallery of various and amazing paintings. I took my time to give the ceiling some attention and was very glad I did. It isn’t always about what is inside that makes the building but the building itself. These buildings are well aged and so old when they were built they were built with more than just purpose of housing something within, but being a source of art. 
This is an image of the god, Apollo, in the middle of the sun like structure. He is surrounded by the zodiacs. 
Created by Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727-85).
I love mythology so I’ve always taken an interest to their stories. Also, I love paintings of biblical times. Each painting takes time not only to look at but to understand. I’ve always wondered how can anyone tell what it is that they are seeing but everyone gets something different from what they are seeing. It takes time to just look upon a picture to understand the print beside it. 
This painting is of Christ and the Woman taken in adultery by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. This painting stood out by its shades of grey. I learned that it was painted as a biblical story that challenged hypocrisy and demonstrated the virtue mercy. If you look closely you can see that Jesus is writing on the ground. 
I’ve always enjoyed paintings of Jesus. There are so many and he looks so differently in all the paintings I’ve seen. Paintings are depicted on what the painter sees as well as play on the emotions of the painter. 
It was a great visit. If you go you may find that there are pictures here that you’ve seen before in another museum. Also you’ll see the treasures that the Somerset House holds that no words can describe or express. Its easy to go out and venture so that you can grasp your own understanding of the world of arts.

-Keisha Williams