Elephants in Trafalgar Square…

Or was it hippos? Just back from the Natural History Museum’s latest exhibition – Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story (until September). Sound, film, objects including large animals and illuminating quotes from archaeologists combine to tell this amazing story in a relatively confined space. Two naked men, one a Neanderthal and one a Homo Sapiens, are the star attraction – at least for the school children – seriously they are both extremely convincing. In height I found I was nearer to the former but apparently we all have some Neanderthal in us! Why did the Neanderthals give way to H. Sapiens? The exhibition suggests that the latter were more sociable which helped in adversity. The ebb and flow of the geography and climate of British Isles over the millennium is told on huge maps and screens. Yes, apparently some elephant bones were discovered in the centre of London on a construction site in 1960. The Hippo bones were further south. Will they return? Who knows after this winter of rain, rain and more rain anything could happen!

Now for something completely different…

In my January blog I mentioned the forthcoming architectural exhibition at the Royal Academy also in London. Apparently it’s hugely successful, and particularly enjoyed by children ….and their parents. I am not surprised. The RA galleries have been transformed into a gigantic playground – there is a lookout tower to climb, a plastic wood made of colourful straws, add your own and then crawl through it. There is a dark and mysterious maze with a quiet space if you can find it and a gallery which goes from light to dark at regular intervals – just the thing for children and childlike adults. On my visit I spotted some serious looking visitors, maybe young architectural students, I am not sure what they thought of it, but perhaps it will inspire them in their studies. Seven international architects have provided the installations and everyone is having a good time at Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined until April.

Bletchley Park and the art of computing

The current dispute at Bletchley Park goes back a long way and stems from the way the site was developed in the first place. “Open war” has now been declared and the Bletchley Park Trust apparently plans to erect a wall to separate its site from that of the National Museum of Computing, a separate charity, mainly run by volunteers. Bearing in mind that they both have so much to gain from each other, the time has surely come to find a long term solution. Already Bletchley Park has seen the value of the “computer story” with its own Alan Turing exhibition. He worked there as a code-breaker during the Second World War, later going on to develop the computer as we know it. And many visitors to the site want to see it all, including the Colossus computer, rebuilt at the Museum. So time to talk….and present an integrated visitor experience. That’s what people expect and that’s of benefit to all those involved.

Here we go again….

George Clooney hasn’t just produced a terrible film, the Monument Men, as I predicted in my last blog, but he has also put his foot in it by getting into the Elgin Marbles row. This is one of those stories that won’t go away but those who comment should at least acquire some basic knowledge before making their utterances.

And I shouldn’t have mentioned how safe I felt at the National Archives in Kew (last blog). Just a few weeks later they had a fire! Fortunately it was outside and there was no damage.

Veronese here I come….

Your blogger has already revealed her interest in Veronese and the great exhibition of some of his work opens on 19 March at the National Gallery. Of course there will be a wonderful new catalogue to accompany the exhibition edited by Veronese expert and curator, Xavier F. Salomon. My own book tracing the history of just one painting, a Veronese copy, is now available in the Amazon Kindle store – Finding Veronese: Memoir of a Painting.

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