The city holds three museums that give the phrase “food for thought” a completely new meaning.
Searching for things to do in London can be a harrowing journey. The city flourishes with neighborhoods such as Soho, Notting Hill, and Shoreditch. When people think of London, they think of afternoon tea on River Thames, the London Eye and eating fish and chips. Yet, the city holds three museums that give the phrase “food for thought” a completely new meaning. From greeting mummies to listening to a tower of radios, the Swinging City has it all.
1. The British Museum
Few people can describe the British Museum in one word. But as people pass behind the Ionic columns and walk around the galleries, I find only one term comes to mind: awe-inspiring. Visitors are first brought to a dome-shaped entrance, where Roman temples stand hiding the ancient treasures of the world. It would take weeks to see all the objects in the Museum. Yet, even an hour’s worth of observing becomes a novel experience. Running since the mid-1700s, the Museum has accumulated more than 8 million artifacts. One of the most beloved areas are the Egyptian Galleries. Artifacts line the halls of the west side, filling the spacious rooms with a long-forgotten way of life. Visit the mummies in their tombs, or observe the Obsidian sphinxes. Check out the Rosetta stone, a slab of stone with Hieroglyphic, Greek and Demotic characters carved into it. Witness the inspiration behind Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias” in the bust of Ramesses II.
Other notable galleries include the Reading Room, the Elgin Marbles, and Chinese ceramics.
The museum, however, is also comprised of objects and periods that you haven’t learned in seventh-grade history class. Discover millions of prints in Room 90, some even dating back to the Middle Ages. Striking prints include the Kiss of the whole world by Alois Kolb and The Longing by Frantisek Kobliha. Explore the madness and brilliance behind Edward Munch’s The Scream in one gallery, discover the history of Manga in another. The museum not only shows itself as a place where people can learn about different periods of history, but also as a preservation of a world we never lived in.
2. The Tate Modern
Whenever an artist mentions the words “Tate” and “Modern” in the beginning of a sentence, something deep and metaphorical comes to complete it. From the works of Picasso to Yayoi Kasuma, the museum is one of the most beloved places in the art world. Free admission will grant the creations of Rothko, Hesse and Warhol among other beloved artists. Walk on the floor that the artist Doris Salcedo cracked, or observe the real gun shots produced by the artist Xiao Lu at her installation Shooting Picture. The Tate Modern challenges the public on the every-evolving concept of art. Visit the famous Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, which some will argue is simply a urinal on a pedestal.
The museum also features alternative methods artists use in their creations. The Materials and Objects exhibition shows the inner workings behind Mimmo Rotella in her collages, as well as Mrinalini Mukherjee with her fabrics.
One of the most notable pieces of the museum is Babel by Cildo Meireles. Babel is a tower comprised of layers of radios. The radios emit various stations and play an incoherent, scattered harmony. It stands like a monument in a darkened room, tall and clear in its connection to the biblical story. It’s pieces like Babel and Shooting Picture that reveal the eccentric, all-knowing heart of the Tate Modern-a place that challenges us to see beyond a pretty picture.
3. The National Gallery
The National Gallery is the perfect place to leave your responsibilities at home and escape into the grandeur and beauty of the art world. Even the painted ceilings captures the eye into an otherworldly getaway. Located in the heart of West London, West End plays, Covent Garden, and River Thames are a ten-minute stroll away. The most popular artists in the museum are Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Monet and Van Gogh.Observe the waterlilies in Monet’s Water-Lily Pond, or strain your neck to take in Giordano’s frecos in Room 40 Other must-see highlights include the Virgin of the Rocks by da Vinci, Venus and Mars by Botticelli and Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael. Visit their website to learn of other must-see paintings.