Monday, 10 August 2009

Museum of London

The Museum of London tells many sides to the story of the city of London. It includes information and objects on prehistoric London, Roman rule, medieval London, and even modern aspects like an exhibit on apartheid in South Africa. The curator of the prehistoric exhibit spoke with us. He explained that the existence of the city is directly related to the River Thames. He also spoke about how humans in prehistoric times were smarter and more innovative than many modern people give them credit for. He explained how museums are good at showing objects, but not as good at telling a story. He said in this exhibit he tried to tell a narrative, and get visitors to think of the prehistoric people as actual individuals. In this way, he included poems, sounds, photographs of the terrain, and also objects relating to their lives. One ceramic pot actually had the finger prints where the creator had pressed their fingertips in for sculptural effect. Seeing that object helped me to think of the prehistoric Londoners as individual humans. In furthering his theme of the river being integral to the existence of the city, he tried to remind visitors of the river throughout the exhibit. In this way many panels were curved, there were blue lights, and sounds reminding the visitor of the river. I had previously visited the National Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio which covers the Underground Railroad during slavery. This museum was also created with one of its intentions being to remind the visitors of importance of the river (the Ohio River being the boundary between free states and slave states), and the buildings of this museum were curvy like the flow of the river, including the interior and staircases. The design of this exhibit to me was similar and really made me think about how water ways can really influence human history.

Listening to the curator made me feel more aware of the way information is selected and conveyed. He wanted to tell a narrative that would influence the way the visitor experienced the content of the exhibit. I think he was very successful in accomplishing his goals with the combination of methods that he used. I found him to be very thoughtful. I liked that he tried to imagine the way that the exhibit would be experienced from a visitor point of view. I thought those efforts could be felt as I wandered through the prehistoric London exhibit.

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