London museums and galleries
Joe O'Shea and arts journalist Gemma Tipton give us their tips for museums and galleries in London.
· NOTE – IMPERIAL WAR MUSEM IN LONDON IS CLOSED UNTIL JULY! When it will partially re-open during a major renovation. It’s actually long overdue – the IWM was getting pretty tired & old fashioned.
· However – you can get your WWII history fix at the Churchill War Rooms – the actual wartime bunker deep under Westminister, where Churchill and his Gov sheltered during the height of the blitz. It’s the secret history of Churchill’s war, with desks, maps etc laid out exactly as they were in 1941 and interactive exhibits.
Adult tickets for the war rooms cost £15 sterling – but kids under 16 go free.
· Science Museum – South Kensington FREE IN!
The British Museum may have the international glamour – but for me – the science museum is the best place to go if you only have one day and the time to do one major museum. It’s packed to the rafters with great aeroplanes, great cars, amazing machinery, design, at the moment, they have a major exhibition dedicated to Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer and the genius behind the “Bombs” at Bletchly Park that broke the Nazi Enigma code and changed the course of the Second World War.
Lots and lots of inspiring things for kids to do, especially, some a bit icky – they can walk through a giant mock-up of the human digestive system, for starters.
(Great website – sciencemusem.org.uk – if you want to get the kids to get excited about an upcoming visit)
· FAMILIES – go to visitlondon.com - the official site for tourism London – great advice on what to do in London, lots of it free - the have drawn up itinaries – which plan an entire day of fun, including which Tube to take, etc etc. They have one that covers an entire day out in London for a family of four, travel, attractions, food, even ice cream in Covent Garden – for £50stg.
You can download the itinaries and take them with you.
· The Natural History Museum – again FREE IN.
One of the world’s most iconic museums in one of London’s most imposing, beautiful high Victorian buildings. It’s an inspiring wonderland for kids. Especially if they love dinosaurs.
Hundreds of exciting, interactive exhibits in one of London’s most beautiful landmark buildings. Highlights include the popular Dinosaurs gallery, Mammals with its unforgettable model blue whale and the spectacular Central Hall, home to the Museum’s iconic Diplodocus skeleton. Don’t miss the state-of-the-art Cocoon where, on a self-guided tour, you can see hundreds of fascinating specimens and look into laboratories where you can see scientists at work.
The Museum offers a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions and events including chances to join experts, in the Darwin Centre’s high-tech Attenborough Studio, in topical discussions about science and nature.
· NOTE – Ryanair, SAS and Aer Lingus all fly daily direct from Dublin to Stockholm – I looked up priced for an adult return in mid-June on Ryanair – available at €121 as of yesterday. It’s not expensive to get to, but can be very expensive to stay, if you like luxuries such as food, drinks and a roof over your head.
· Cheap summertime accommodation is available at floating hotels, B&Bs etc.
The ABBA museum, Djurgarden, Stockholm – Not cheap 22Euro in per person.
For the weekend that’s in it and seeing as the Eurovision is back in Sweden – the just opened ABBA Museum has to get a mention.
Set on an island in the harbour of Stockholm (I’ve been there, it is truly gorgeous, but very expensive) the museum has the official backing of Sweden’s fab four and is not some cheap and tacky tourist trap.
Only opened last week, the ABBA museum is part of the Swedish Music Hall of Fame, which also commemorates other Swedish pop megastars such as….er……
ABBA The Museumwill showcase the band’s stage clothes, artifacts, concert footage, interviews etc. in a contemporary, interactive setting. When you buy a ticket you get an ID that generates a page on the museum website. Once inside the museum you can sing and dance with holograms of ABBA, don a digital costume (go for the famous Anni-Frid ‘tiger’ or Agnetha ‘cat’ tunic) projected on to you in a special booth and you can record it by scanning your ticket at the attraction. Then you get to share photos and videos of your experience on Facebook and other social media.
Your holographic, singing head will also “entertain” other visitors as they enter the museum.
Sounds like fun.
· Also In Stockholm – The Vasa Myusem – I’ve been to this one, amazing. And it is practically next door to the ABBA museum on Djurgarden Island.
It’s Sweden’s Mary Rose – a vast warship built at the height of Seweden’s Empire in the 1680s, this ship was supposed to go to war against the Polish, but sank on its maiden voyage in front of the Royal family and the entire citizenry of Stockholm. It capzised in the harbour and stayed at the bottom until 1961 – when the Swedes raised it, restored it and put it on permanent exhibition inside a specially build museum. It has been Sweden’s number one tourist attraction for years.
Opens June 1. Opening is a hilarious round of massive parties, and everyone pretending they’ve been somewhere / seen something cooler and better. Much better to go later. Ends 24 November, so plenty of time.
There are eighty-eight pavilions
Irish Pavilion is Richard Mosse – Congo photographs.
Pavilion is near San Marco – not in the Giardini…
PAVILLIONS IN THE GIARDINI ARE ALMOST AS FUN AS THE ART!
All reflecting what the nations thought of themselves at the time. Belgium was first in 1907, and a lot of the pavilions are quite fascist in design.
Jeremy Deller is there for England, he won the Turner Prize, and made a life-sized inflatable.
Sarah Sze for USA – big colourful installations
But the surprises are the best bit.
And the big group show in the arsenale – this year curated by Massimiliano Gioni and called The Encyclopedic Palace and named for an imaginary museum from the 1950s that was meant to house everything.
It’s brilliant fun. Give it 3 days to do it properly – and enjoy Venice too.
AND THE PISARRO (1830-1903) EXHIBITION IN MADRID
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (thai sen born e miza ) June 4 to September 15.
Cezanne, Renoir and Gaugin all thought he was wonderful, and he is – but he’s always been in the shadow of Monet.
BACK TO LONDON:
Tate Britain 26 June – 20 October
Very popular, but not always with the Art Establishment. The actor Ian MacKellan has been making a fuss about how Tate doesn’t show its Lowrys, which could be part of why they’re doing it now. He made a programme a couple of years ago – Looking for Lowry.
Industrial landscapes with those “matchstalk men” in them, and “matchstalk cats and dogs” that seem friendly and nice, but have a dark edge.
After his death, the “Marionette” works emerged, that he’d kept secret – not surprisingly as they’re of erotica and disturbingly, torture. You can see them on request at the Lowry, Salford. (Something similar happened with Turner).
AT THE SAME TIME AS LOWRY, TATE BRITAIN ALSO HAS GARY HUME (ALONGSIDE THE LATE PATRICK CAULFIELD – TWO PAINTERS)
Hume was one of the Famous Young British Artists (YBAs) who came to prominence in the 1990s – straight out of art college, when Saatchi took them up. Both painters have similar, bright, “flat” style that’s kind of “pop”-ey.
IN LONDON SEE ALSO:
The Art College degree shows are on. Anyone can go. Some charge admission, some don’t. But here’s where you see the Tracey Emins and Damien Hirsts before anyone else – before they become stars. And see if you can spot who’ll make it.
In June the big ones are Goldsmith’s (where Hume went) – which is 14 to 17 June, and Chelsea, which is 13-22 June.
BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery – is always lovely. 55 contemporary portraits – and proves that painting and portraits never really go out of fashion. The winner gets £30K in cash... 20 June to Sept 15. The National Portrait Gallery is lovely anyway.
The V&A continues its David Bowie show until August 11th and from June 20 the Courtauld will be showing Gaugin until September 8 – Gaugin’s a bit like a tropical Lowry in the way he paints – about the same period – Gaugin slightly earlier.
FINALLY, COFFEE SHOPS.
Because art is very tiring on the feet, and it’s thirsty work. Highly recommended are: Courtald – café in the courtyard of Somerset House. Lovely.
Also V&A, the original café, built as a showcase for design, it’s stunning. 1850s and amazing, including a Byrne Jones stained glass window.
Café / restaurant at Saatchi gallery lovely too – Gallery Mess (they’re showing a survey exhibition of “new” British art called “New Order”).