Museum of London review
The Museum of London is probably my favourite museum in London, but of course I am a big fan of London. If I went to New York City then I'd probably find a museum about the Big Apple really boring; and maybe tourists to London will think the same about this place. It's basically just a load of posters, photos, bones and bricks, isn't it... the more you know about the city the better it becomes. You need to know what it looks like today, to be amazed at the pictures of its past. If you're just here on a trip then a few cases of bones and stones isn't going to do much.
I still like it though. Because it's London! The greatest city in the world!
It starts off with all the prehistoric stuff. I always skip straight past this room because it's just bones and stones. They've got a lot of arrow heads as well, and axeheads, and stuff like that (boring). Probably the most interesting bit is the tusks and skulls of the hippos and elephants and bears who used to live in Trafalgar Square 200,000 years ago.
It starts getting good when you reach the Roman stuff. They've got intricate little models of the basilica, forum and wharves, and it's hard to believe it was real. It looks like Rome! I always curse Beudica for coming along and burning it down, because it would be great if we still had this stuff standing. All they've got on show from real life are the busted statues, pots and equipment they dug up from the City. Some of the statues and carvings are very fine. They've got some big wooden timbers and mosaics as well, which are worth a look. And a load of coins and jewellery. Don't forget to look out of the window at this point, because you can see the remains of London's Roman wall downstairs in the street.
Then you move onto the Medieval era, where they've got lots of religious treasures from the Dissolution of the monasteries. There are plenty more cups and plates and busted statues and stones as well. They start talking about the plague here as well, and you can watch a gruesome movie about the Black Death (or not!).
After that comes my favourite bit, about the Tudors and Stuarts. This section includes William Shakespeare and the English Civil War. They've got some good stuff about the theatres, including a model of the original Rose (...think the Globe). And if you're a saddo like me then you'll be smiling when you see two plates from the Copperplate map.
They've got a nice little exhibition on the Great Fire of London here (albeit very small), where you can see a few famous paintings and burnt timbers and bricks that they've dug up from the City.
Then comes all the Georgian stuff. My favourite display in this section is the original cell door from Newgate Prison. Have a close look at that wall with all the prisoners' scribblings on it... that's a proper punishment, being locked in there.
Check out the spooky pleasure garden too. It's pitch black inside and full of Georgian ladies and dandified fellas, all dressed up and having a chat. A bit of birdsong and Handel flits through the trees whilst you watch a movie on the wall. It's all very pleasant and strange, and weird and peaceful at the same time.
I love the life-size Victorian street as well. They've got about ten full-size shop fronts that you can walk around, with the sounds of the street pumped in through the speakers. The windows are stuffed full of Victorian goods... toys and cards, fags and tobacco, pots full of crackers and biscuits, powders and snuff, top hats and tails, wigs and bodkins, and even a post office, pub and public urinal.
Then you're onto the modern day stuff. They've got some early cars and bits about women's suffrage. Gas masks and posters from the war... an old black-and-white movie of the Blitz... a red telephone box and 60's miniskirts... a few early home computers from the 1980s. It's a very varied collection. It's more about Britain by this point though, rather than the city of London, so it doesn't interest me so much.
The final thing worth seeing is the Lord Mayor's golden coach, which he uses every year at the Lord Mayor's Show. I'm not sure what the Queen thinks of it, because I reckon it's better than her gold State coach (which you can see at the Royal Mews).
I’ve been here more than once…
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