Tuesday, August 16, 2011

London and Home

I spent a week in London before heading home.  The riots there erupted the night before I left, but not in central London, and I only found out about them from a TV in the airport as I was waiting for my flight to Australia.

In London I spent time at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain, but I also looked at the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the British Museum, all wonderful institutions.

Ai Weiwei, "Sunflower Seeds" (ceramic), 2010

The Natural History Museum, as well as having some spectacular displays, is a great research institution and holds hundreds of thousands of so-called type specimens.  A type specimen is the first specimen of a species to be described scientifically, and acts as a reference for all subsequent work on that species.

Spectacle: the entrance to the Earth Sciences display in the Natural History Museum

And the Science Museum has a range of material from Stephenson's "Rocket" locomotive (1829) to the Apollo 10 command module, that flew round the Moon in 1969.

Diagram in the Science Museum showing the geometric construction of one of the elaborate illustrations from the Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript

I saw the Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript itself in the British Library (though of course it was only open at one page, which wasn't this one).  The manuscript dates from 700 AD or shortly afterwards, so to see it at all was astonishing enough.

 So ends my grand art tour.

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