Sometimes it’s hard for us museum addicts to keep up to date with all the new exhibitions. I know I am lagging behind when people phone to ask for advice – what do I think about the latest offering? Occasionally I have to invent something but sometimes I am just unable to get there despite my best efforts.
This was the case at the Museum of London recently when I queued up with I don’t know how many people just to leave my coat (and bag) before getting a drink at the official opening. There were some lovely speeches about the Cheapside Hoard but not a chance to see it – just too many people in yet another queue. I am sure it’s great – I have seen the TV programme! And yes, I will go in November after the half-term “hoards” have left London. www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall
Slightly more esoteric was my visit to the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery across the bridge from the existing gallery. As it happens in the early 00s when I served on the Royal Parks Board, we explored what was then known as the Magazine, once a munitions store. In fact it was full of flag poles and rather dark and dingy. These were the poles used in The Mall on special occasions and it was made quite clear that they couldn’t be stored anywhere else so they had to stay. It’s only taken ten years to get the flagpoles out, for the Serpentine Gallery to take over and add a delightful café by renowned architect, Zaha Hadid on the side. The current exhibition is a little odd but matches the building perfectly – it’s what you would expect from the Serpentine. Where the flagpoles have gone, I don’t know. www.serpentinegalleries.org
And I made it to Houghton Hall, for the magic of seeing the paintings from St Petersburg returned to their original slots in this beautiful country house. We went on what was going to be the very last day of the exhibition but in fact the season has been such a success that it has been extended to 24 November. Do go if you can…www.houghtonhall.com
Art Attack at Tate Britain is a great idea but in the end does not fulfil its ambition as it is limited to the UK. While the early sections work well, covering the impact of the Reformation in England and the Suffragettes on London’s art galleries, it then becomes a bit irrelevant, instead of tackling the world today and the destruction of art and heritage in the course of wars and religious intolerance and persecutions.
All that glitters at the Science Museum
The National Science Museum Group is responsible for the National Media Museum in Bradford which of course covers photography. For several years there has been talk of moving the collection somewhere else, perhaps to London, followed by local protests. So nothing much seems to have happened but now the Science Museum has opened its own Media Space to showcase the National Media Museum’s collection of photography in London. The current exhibition “Only in England” features the photographs of Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr taken in the ‘60s and ‘70s, focusing on the social customs from days on the beach to non-conformist church-goers. This is a real treat for anyone whose memories go back that far – and for those whose seaside memories are limited to the Costa Brava!
The future of the National Media Museum is still in the balance and it needs to change according to the Director of the Group, Ian Blatchford, speaking in Bradford recently. Earlier this year, when faced with further cutbacks, there were plans to close one of the northern museums, either the National Railway Museum in York, National Media Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. In London it is possible to transform a huge space at the Science Museum into an all-singing, dancing new gallery with the help of a plethora of sponsors. Let’s hope that the London team can spread some of that glitter to their cousins in the north.
Grayson Perry in full flow….
The highlight on BBC Radio 4 during the past weeks has been Grayson Perry delivering the usually dry Reith lectures and breathing new air into well-known arguments about modern art, and what it is, and can anyone be an artist, and is it all about money? Grayson in full flow in one of his colourful outfits have had audiences in stitches and he even received a standing ovation in Londonderry – City of culture this year. Not enough space here to summarise some of his thoughts on arts and culture except that it all sounds eminently sensible. Catch up on the i-player. There is one more to go.Back to top