I moved to London in 2009, from Australia, and one of the things that immediately struck me was how great it was that most of the museums here are free. It meant that while I was studying at Film School, I could spend my weekends getting inspiration from the old masters, or from history, without breaking the bank. There is something about immersing yourself in a beautiful, inspiring place that restores the spirit and your feeling of creativity.
Built as a great “cathedral to nature” the building itself is an incredibly beautiful architectural marvel, made of terracotta, and crawling with beautifully carved animals, birds and insects, both inside and out, and it’s famous tiles on the ceilings painted with scientifically correct botanical images.
It opened it’s doors in 1881, though the initial bequest of specimens left by Sir Hans Sloane was at first housed elsewhere, and though the Victorian era was one of huge curiosity and exploration, social mores meant that museums had been places for the wealthy until this one ensured that free entry meant all people could see the contents of the collection as it grew.
It’s a truly amazing place, and though I’ve been a few times, there are always more and more things to see. I always make sure I visit the dinosaurs, because no matter how many times I do, I always get that creepy tingle down my spine when I’m standing in front of those huge cages of bone.
But the earthquake simulator also gets my vote, and this time I spent more time in the geology section, staring at the collection of precious stones.
Currently, the museum is hosting the Wildlife Photography of the year awards, which is always really wonderful, and though there is an entry charge for this exhibition, I loved and feel that it’s well worth it.