7 October 2018

Doing scitech

I’m actually a science buff but my experience with the local science museums in London is dismal. So this day it was the Natural history Museum and more. The NHM is a gloriously impressive building and known for that. The entrance was designed by JW Waterhouse. Otherwise it features numerous carvings and ruddy coloured bands reminiscent of Italian architecture. But the collection is the thing. I visited the treasures, mostly records from great colonial scientists with some extinct species. Also the geological exhibition, nicely old-fashioned with numerous rocks and minerals and gems and crystals on display in traditional cabinets. Otherwise I found much that was too flashy or kid-oriented. I liked the stuffed animals despite with the apologies for fading. I liked the Great Sequoia that was felled by moderns in late C10th after 1500 years-or-so. Another extinction in the making. OK but not thrilling. I tried for the Royal School of Music but the museum is closed for renovation. It was't a total loss as I got to play the paparazzi for a wedding party at the Royal Albert Hall. Apparently they had won a competition that very day on commercial TV. Presumably reality TV. Not my thing.

Then off to the Science museum. I wished I’d gone earlier and I was pushed for time. I found issues with labelling which could be problematic, but the collection was thrilling. Think steam engines, the first turbo car, the original mirror for Herschell’s 40-foot telescope, Crick & Watson’s actual model of DNA, the Roll Royce flying bedstead, Stephenson’s Rocket (currently out on loan), Lister’s microscope, the LIGO prototype beam splitter, Puffing Billy, a V2, an early particle accelerator, a Cray-1A supercomputer, the Apollo 10 command module and more. Britain was at the centre of sci-tech for a considerable time and this museum collects from that. Stunning. And that was mostly just one hall. A change from the arts.

The Natural History and Science Museums are adjacent to each other and near the Royal Albert Hall, V&A Museum, the Royal School of Music and more.

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