July 24, 2022

British Museum

My first experience at the British Museum was in 2014, the first year that Melanie accompanied me to London for Oceanology. I must have been the only person on the planet not aware of the British Museum, so it was quite amazing to visit the first time.

As I recall, we spent several hours in the Museum that day, and we have made it a point to visit every time we were in London.

This time was much the same, but unfortunately, I was alone as Melanie had decided to stay home with her back issues. That was unfortunate, as I enjoy travelling with her and missed her on this adventure.

I had booked a time at the museum after lunch, because according to the website, admission was no longer open to the public. Bookings only. My booking was at 1400 hours and after a sequence of tube and bus rides arrived there promptly at 1400 hours.

The entrance is now off to the side of the main courtyard in an attempt to manage the traffic. When I arrived, there was virtually no one there and I walked into the tent, through security and out. No one asked anything about my booking. Oh well.

As an engineer, most of the attraction of the museum is the Great Court. My compliments to the designers of this magnificent feature. Oftentimes when visiting the museum, I just sit on one of the benches and take in the wonderful scene in front of me.

This guy, in the Great Court is always a fascination. On a pedestal riding his horse, he is always looking over the crowd usually milling about in this corner of the courtyard. But no one ever pays him any mind, except me. Regal and commanding, this represents to me everything the museum is about.

After getting my “courtyard on”, I entered the main hall on the right side and began meandering around. It’s always interesting to see what’s changed here, and being 4 years since my last visit, quite a bit is different.

Entering the main hall near the horseman, the thing that I notice is that this entire hall from front to rear has been sponsored by the Sackler Foundation. You can’t help but wonder how long that will be the case. In doing a quick check on the innerwebs, their name was evidently removed shortly after my visit.

At the rear of the fist hall, there were a lot of new (to me at least) Egyptian artifacts on display that I found quite striking.

These reliefs were lined up, evidently to tell a story. I found them captivating.

Looping around to the other side of the building was more Egyptian exhibits, but I noticed the quantity back here had diminished quite a bit.

This exhibit was not here the last time I visited. Based on the less than clear description, this is a collection of ancient Syrian artifacts. Interesting stuff, but it makes you wonder why it was decided to present this after all these years.

There were a lot of wall displays and such in this particular exhibit, not something I’m particularly interested in.

The next section was the Greek display, that I was interested in as I was planning on flying out to Greece the next day to visit my cousin Pam.

At the end of one of the halls was this display of artifacts from the Parthenon. Of particular interest was a large placard talking about how the Greeks had requested that the artifacts be returned. The British Museum refused, saying that Greece wouldn’t properly care for them. I found that to be a bit cheeky, but would later on realize they aren’t entirely wrong in this statement.

Leaving the Parthenon exhibit, was this striking scene. Don’t know why, but it fascinated me and I hung around for a while watching the artists.

Near the end of my visit, I came across this:

The Dr. Who fans immediately know what this is, but for those who aren’t, some explanation is in order. In an episode of Dr. Who called “The Christmas Invasion“, with his sonic screwdriver the good Doctor convinces an ATM to start spitting out currency to create a diversion for the Doctor to escape the scene. As this was expected to be a goodly amount of currency, the producers were unwilling to use real pound notes and elected to use these replica’s instead. They evidently had to get permission from the British Government as this was officially considered to be an act of counterfeit. All in great fun.

At the end of the hall, is my favorite part, the clocks. I’m a bit of a clock aficionado and the examples here always fascinate me.

To complete this visit, again I took in the wonder of the Great Court. Just can’t get enough of this amazing space.

Departing the museum was a bit melancholy, as this will in all likelihood be my last visit to this amazing place. As you can see, I stood around for quite some time taking it all in as a fond farewell.

A flight to Athens was on track for the following day, to start my Greek adventure.

Stay tuned.