This morning after class, Christina and I had to some errands. First we popped over to St. Pancras Hotel to arrange the tea for our last day. I got to inside that amazing building for the first time. They were very nice of course and we made the arrangements. Then it was off to the London Palladium to pick up tickets for the evening’s production of The King and I.
We decided to walk back from Oxford Circus. Christina went her way and I headed to the British Museum. My walk made me realize just how close this museum is to where I am staying. I crossed Tottenham Court Road and came down Store Street. There was nice block of cafes and shops. I stopped to explore the bookshop I found there and then moved onto the museum. I entered from the side which fronts onto Malet Street where I am staying in the College Dorm. The line was not super long and I was in in about 10 minutes.
This side entrance takes you into a gallery which deals with death and dying. I remember this gallery from last trip but did not spend much time here. I lingered long enough to observe that is was considering dying from the perspective of many cultures. I moved onto The King’s Library which is a rather extraordinary room. It is enormous (what gallery in this museum is not) but, this one seems larger than most. The room was created to house the library of George III. You can read more about the room here
The space today is known as the Enlightenment Gallery. It is designed to help people of today understand how people of the 18th century (The Age of Enlightenment) understood their world and how they studied the world. It uses many thousands of objects from the museums collection. It is virtually impossible to take in this gallery in one visit. I dare say you couldn’t do it in a weeklong visit. This is, for me, one of the problems with this museum. There is an unbelievable amount of information housed in this building.
Moving on, I went through a number of galleries. Most of the collection of the museum involves ancient cultures and civilizations: Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, early Britain and the list goes on and on. Most of what is in the museum is the results of Great Britain’s early control of the world. This has created some controversy regarding some of the objects in this museum. Beyond that, it is the shear number and amount. For instance, I love Greek pottery and as I viewed any number of these pieces and attempted to photograph ones that I wanted to remember for whatever reason I recognized there was too much. Beyond the difficulty of photographing through the glass, I realized there was too much. I decided beyond what was in the rooms devoted to these pieces, they are probably huge numbers that are not on display and around the world huge quantities of these artifacts. Suddenly they didn’t seem so rare.
Anyway, I stayed for about 2 hours and decided it was time to go. The museum was filling with people and I was brain dead. You can enjoy the pictures below.
After a break at the dorm, I went down to the National Theater via Waterloo station in time for the tour of the theater. We always take the students on this tour. Today will be tight. The tour is at 4:30 and we have a 7 pm show this evening. I literally grabbed a sandwich on the way. The tour was, as always interesting and informative. This time we found, late we could take photos. I never ceased to be amazed by the inner workings of this theater. It has renewed my interest in seeing our first show there on Wednesday.
Leaving the National as a group we headed up to the London Palladium to see The King and I. The production is essentially the same one I saw in Cincinnati two months ago. It was a bit lusher and I realized some things may have been cut from the tour I saw. This production reunites the stars of the Broadway production, Kellie O’Hara (Tony winner for this role) and Ken Watanabe. They were superb. It was a great privilege to hear Kelli O’Hara. The production overall was exceptional and beautiful. The musical still remains controversial for its depiction of the Siamese people and the relationship to the woman brought to teach the children and wives of the Siamese court. The theater itself was stunning. This is the first time I have been in this theater.