In the United States people may be frantically voting in the Presidential Election, but for me Tuesday 6 November, my final day of annual leave before returning back to the office, was spent having a cultural day. No, it’s not a national day, but just a name I attributed from a personal level for the day that was.
First destination – The National History Museum.
Situated between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn Underground stations, I had a pleasant walk along the back streets to the museum having exited for the former tube station. As opposed to Friday, the footfall on the streets was less as schools have returned back, and therefore it was a more pleasant walk. Now the museum itself is a magnificent building and apt for the contents contained within. Now, I like popping in and out of this place from time to time, and I looked at different collections on an ad hoc basis.
Todays visit entailed the room of ‘Enlightenment’, and enlightened I was. This name attaches itself to the period between the mid 17th century and late 1800s, and one whereby those of the time endeavored to collect, decipher and understand the past. In the series of connected rooms, you will find works originating from Egypt, China, Greece, from the Roman Empire and the Maya people. I have to say I was overwhelmed by the creativity of the times, and how delicate objects could be made for finely and with such skill and craftsmanship.
I then headed to the upper floors of the museum to see the collections pertaining to China, both modern and ancient periods, along with the upper floor housing a small and yet an eclectic collection of works originating from Korea. What impressed me was that such a vast country as China, which has been subjected to periods of social unrest an invasion from outsiders, is the creativity that existed even during these periods. While people in Great Britain were still beating each other with sticks and living in caves, they were producing near perfect pieces of porcelain that can even meet the high standard achieved by modern day machines. I was also shocked at the amount of detail that went into these works, along with the vibrancy of colours, that had been very much unrivaled in the western world until such an impasse of time.
My second, and final destination for the day – The London Transport Museum.
This museum is situated in Covent Garden in the main square area surrounding the market place, which is now filled with bars, restaurants, stalls and little shops. The last time I ventured to this place was a back in 2009, so it was quite nice to have a wonder around, and on this occasion with more time to myself to inspect the exhibits in more detail.
It was a very intriguing journey that started on the upper floors, and descending to the various floors before ground floor level, and seeing how primitive the modes of transport were at the beginning of the 18th and 19th centuries. Yet over short passage of time, and to date, we have a very comprehensive and fantastic transport system in operation. We have gone from a point of the majority of people walking to work, and therefore living within walking distance of their work place, and through the evolution of the hackney carriage, stagecoaches and omnibuses, all the way through to modern day times with buses dotting throughout the Capital, the Underground and Overground; just as a handful of example of modes of transport.
It is definitely a place for people to visit, and realise how perseverance, commitment and focus can achieve great things.
So yes overall, a great day of insight, and one in which I learnt quite a lot because I switched off from the main happenings of my main life to see history, read and learn. It’s very uplifting. So if you have a spare two hours or so, have a walk around and discover.