London Museums and Art

London has a huge variety of museums, art galleries, and cultural events. Here were some of the highlights from my visit.

The British Library had a “Propaganda – Power and Persuasion” exhibit. As an American I didn’t really appreciate that Uncle Sam was their exhibit #1 for propaganda but I did find some portions of the exhibit interesting, such as their examples of leaflets dropped onto enemy combatants to get them to surrender and the well-made films from Frank Capra under the “Why We Fight” banner about the Allies entry into WW2.

Chris Levine is an artist with a gallery display at the Fine Art Society in London. This is a photo from one of his installations. He has a prominent model in an artistic but NSFW pose, as well (not pictured).

The “David Bowie is” exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum was an excellent multi-media display, containing movies and videos from Bowie’s early years culminating in a giant screen concert of him through the years. Tickets were hard to get and the exhibit was packed requiring patience. As you went through the exhibit the music would automatically change on your headset when you neared certain displays which made the process of following along much easier. This photo above is from the cafeteria at the museum rather than during the exhibit since photography was not allowed and it wouldn’t do it justice, anyways on my iPhone. One minor nit for me is that they rarely mentioned Bowie’s band members that played a critical part of his success including Mick Ronson, Carlos Alomar, and Robert Fripp (on “Heroes”). While doing a bit of digging for this post I read that “Heroes” didn’t even make the US “Hot 100” when it was released which in hindsight is astonishing.

This is a photo from the London Transport Museum which was much more entertaining than I would have expected. You can go at night and have a drink and walk through the displays with the history of the tube and many examples of older buses and trains that you can sit on and touch. They also have a fantastic gift shop attached if you’d like to buy a souvenir.

Cross posted at LITGM

6 thoughts on “London Museums and Art”

  1. The V&A has some great medical history displays although I am sure they are not crowded. The City of London museum is also great. One nice exhibit is the Lord Mayor’s coach. My daughter and I were invited to the installation of the Lord Mayor a few years ago and got to see it in the procession to the Guildhall.

    In the 1980s, my wife and I were in London for a medical meeting which included a reception at the Guildhall and she got talking to a Russian vascular surgeon. He was there without his wife and I wondered if that was a condition of his going.

    My daughter and I got to sit with the Royal Army Medical Corps in Westminster Abbey for Remembrance Day. We were seated in front of the RAMC window in the Abbey. The Queen was putting a wreath at the Cenotaph.

    The British do ceremony very well although I wonder if the population today would be up to the standards set by the ancestors. I wonder the same thing about us.

  2. Uncle Sam is their lead image. I can’t imagine why they didn’t use a pic of GW Bush as Hitler or a Palestinian infant dressed as a suicide bomber.

  3. The Brits are too modest. One reason why Stalin did not trust the information about Hitler’s plans and why the world discounted the information about the Nazi treatment of the Jews was the memory of British stories of Germans boiling Belgian babies into soap and other World War I propaganda that was quite successful.

    As it happened the Germans were beastly to the Belgians. The only vellum copy of Vesalius’ anatomy was destroyed with the destruction of the library of Louvain where he began his medical education. There were plans to use it in celebration on the 500th anniversary of his birth but the War intervened and it was lost.

  4. Michael Kennedy:
    In the 1980s, my wife and I were in London for a medical meeting which included a reception at the Guildhall and she got talking to a Russian vascular surgeon. He was there without his wife and I wondered if that was a condition of his going.

    It is quite possible that the Soviets didn’t let his wife come along. I knew a member of an international professional society whose group held several meetings behind the Iron Curtain during the Brezhnev era in order that its members behind the Iron Curtain could more easily attend the international meetings. Two stories follow about meeting the locals in Moscow.

    A Muscovite in the street started to talk with some Americans in the visiting group. In that era, clothing was an easy way to spot a visitor from the the West. One of the Americans replied, “We are glad to talk with you, but aren’t you putting yourself at risk by talking with us?” The reply came back that while the Organs would be very happy to punish any Russian talking with a foreigner, they couldn’t be all places at all times. The Russian had several minutes of unsupervised conversation with some Americans.

    On the other hand, the Organs did catch some transgressors. One of the Russians at the international conference went with some Americans to their hotel room. The telephone in the hotel room rang. The Russian was summoned to the phone.While the Americans couldn’t understand the words of the conversation, the Russian summoned to the phone expressed himself in a rather heated manner. The Russian suddenly hung up the phone, now with an ashen face, and left the room.

    One of the attendees of the conference in Moscow was a Cold Warrior. He had served in the Army and was in the Army Reserve. He said that after seeing the inefficiencies of Soviet society, he no longer feared the Soviets.

  5. The Russian vascular surgeon had read a paper by a friend of mine on the consequences of accidental arterial injection of drugs. It cast an interesting sidelight on the state of the USSR at the time. I think it was Reagan’s first year in office.

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