Sunday, July 11, 2010
Museum of London
On Friday those of us not on a trip to Paris or Stonehenge went to the Museum of London with Stephen Doerr. We rode the bus there, which was my first time on it! It was fun but also made me nervous. They drive so close together here. I have no idea how the bus drivers don’t hit anything at least once a day.
After the harrowing journey we met with Meriel Jeater, one of the museum’s curators. She works specifically with cultural collections. We went to a conference room in the upstairs of the museum and she showed us a presentation on what went into making the London’s Burning exhibition that recently ended. On September 2, 1666 a fire broke out in a bakery on Pudding Lane. A number of forces combined to help the fire grow at a rapid rate. It burned for 5 days and when it was over 13,200 houses had burned and over 100,000 people were homeless.
Ms. Jeater then went through what it takes to make an exhibition come from an idea to fruition. First one must write a proposal where the subject is described, objects are chosen, and the relevance to the museum’s greater mission is proven. For example, one of the main goals for the exhibit was to bring in more schoolchildren, so the curators decided to gear it toward the 5-7 age range. This meant that everything had to be designed to appeal to children but also to their parents.
After Ms. Jeater’s presentation, she challenged us to create our own display using some of the objects that were used in London’s Burning. I thought that was a nice change of pace from other visits we’ve done where we only had to listen and take notes. My group chose to figure out how to best display a fire insurance plaque that came into use after the fire as a way for property owners to protect their buildings.
We then got to explore the museum on our own, which I loved. I really like museums that ask visitors to participate in what they are seeing, as opposed to just looking at things behind glass. It was fun!
When we left the Museum of London, Anne, Matt, and I booked it over to the British Museum to see a falconry demonstration. It was pretty impressive. There was a barn owl! It was adorable.