‘Is it more stuff in jars’, was the question from my boyfriend, who I was very definitely dragging along on this birthday treat to myself. And yes, yes the Spirit Specimen Tour at the Natural History Museum in London is a behind the scenes peek of their ‘stuff in jars’ store which holds around 22 million animal specimens.
I have no idea what I really expected from the Foundling Museum. I think it was something along the lines of an Oliver Twist Style workhouse, with a dinner hall of big wooden benches lined with tin bowls (obviously for gruel) and spoons. Maybe there would be a rendition of food glorious food. It’s weird what your brain makes up isn’t it. Basically, my brain was really wrong, it’s nothing like this illusion at all.
It’s taken me a month to get to this gem of a temporary exhibition but gosh darn it, it was worth the wait! Imagine if a museum asked visitors what they wanted to display . . . if they just put out a theme and then said ‘go on then, bring us stuff’. I mean that would be chaos, that would be insane, that would be A FLIPPING BRILLIANT IDEA WELLCOME COLLECTION – YOU UTTER LEGENDS.
Today was the Pride Parade in London which marks 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The city looked like a Lush shop had exploded; rainbow flags and glitter galore. As I sat on the tube I overheard a parent explaining to her two little girls why there was a man dressed in a PVC policeman outfit holding hands with a girl kitted out as Wonder Woman. ‘It’s for a Pride March’, she said, ‘people get dressed up and celebrate that people can love who they want’. I sat feeling pretty lucky that I’m in a country where I can overhear that on public transport.
I’m am ashamed to say that I judged a museum by its title. The Museum of English Rural Life (abbreviated to MERL) just doesn’t sound too exciting unless you have an unhealthy attraction to farm yards. I grew up in the countryside and my first word was ‘tractor’, you’d think I’d be the target audience; but I just wasn’t sold . . . it’s nice when your wrongly negative assumptions are blown away.
When you are in a foreign country and get a chance to visit a museum that gets very few overseas visitors you obviously take it. This is what I did with the Baoji Bronzeware Museum anyway.
Tokyo is a bubbling hot pot of culture. Not only is there the yearly blossom festivals and beautiful shrines, there are plenty of wonderful, interesting and sometimes just bizarre things to see and do. Want to drive a go cart around the city dressed as Mario, sure; Fancy a cuppa with an owl, standard; Want to see how many business men can squeeze on a train, that’s just daily phenomenon. If these things sound up your street, Tokyo is the place for you.
‘I actually think this might be better than the Natural History Museum in London’ . . . direct quote from my long suffering partner in crime who I drag around every museum going.
The world of Ghibli is just magical. Studio Ghibli creates incredible animations; it’s like Disney, but more in touch with nature and often a bit darker . . . and I love it! The Ghibli Museum has therefore been on my bucket list for a long time and there was no chance I was going to Tokyo and missing it.
If I’d left my heart in Tokyo, it wouldn’t have been down by the river (don’t you know) . . . it would have been here.