This weekend the Museum of London will be celebrating another children’s Takeover event, organised in partnership with the Kids in Museums charity. This national event offers children and young people brilliant opportunities to get actively involved in organisations, take on museum roles and have their thoughts and opinions heard by cultural organisations across the country.
At the start of this year, the legendary club Plastic People shut its doors on Curtain Road in Shoreditch for good. It came among an ongoing wave of club and venue closures, and it was one of the smaller venues in London – fitting just 200 dancers – but it provoked a huge wave of nostalgia. This wasn’t just a sense of loss though: notable in all the tributes that were paid to the venue were an enormous sense of pride in the values of the club and how it represented all that is best about London and its people.
Christina Broom captured thousands of images of London at the start of the 20th century. This summer, in celebration of the first major exhibition of works by Christina Broom at the Museum of London Docklands, we invited you to follow in her footsteps with a competition to use Instagram to create images of some of the locations Broom photographed. The winners are in!
Who were the Kibbo Kift?
Were they the pacifist and feminist version of the Boy Scouts? Were they banker-bashing radicals or performance artists? Were they, as some accused, secretly fascists, communists, or connected to the Ku Klux Klan? Now, for the first time in decades, this extraordinary and visionary social movement of the 1920s and 30s is back in the London spotlight.
My ideal job would give me licence to stare at people all day. Maybe I should have become a photographer, but while I get the depth of field thing (I think), I never really felt totally at one with a camera. Instead I have become the next best thing for a people-starer: a dress historian. My profession (no sniggering at the back!) provides me with a legitimate reason – or so I am telling myself – for gazing at others and for dissecting their appearance. I’m not too bothered whether someone is fashionably dressed or looks – or pretends to look – as if they don’t particularly care about their clothes. And when I say dissect I don’t mean judge. Whether the clothes are beautiful, ugly, boring or unremarkable (in my eyes or by general consent) is neither here nor there. I want to know why that particular person chose to wear that particular thing in combination with the other things they’ve put on. (Naturally my curiosity extends to accessories, jewellery, hair and make-up as well.)
On Thursday 8 October we welcomed guests to the private view of The Crime Museum Uncovered. The evening was opened by author and journalist Tony Parsons with speeches given by Sharon Ament, Director of The Museum of London, Clive Bannister, Chairman of The Museum of London and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Helen Bailey, COO of MOPAC.
While the most ferocious animal you’re likely to find within the M25 nowadays is probably an urban fox or a territorial chihuahua, London was once home to an abundance of enormous creatures – from wolves to hippos and rhinos to mammoths. The Museum of London has a selection of ancient animal remains from all around the capital.
London’s Docklands have gone through huge change in the last 70 years – from being one of England’s primary ports, to falling into disuse as cargo ships outgrew the Thames. It has seen vast industries come and go – the same warehouse that once stored tonnes of tobacco is now a dance floor, and what was once a 900 year-old fish market now hosts film premieres.
The 1700s were a shameful time in London’s history. Although slavery was something that happened far away, on American cotton farms and West Indian sugar plantations, England had many critical, if slightly murkier, parts to play. From MPs owning Caribbean plantations to a newly-discovered British appetite for sugar, England was implicit in human slavery. This uncomfortable past touched much of British life, and was hidden in a great many everyday objects and institutions.
Three years ago, when I started researching Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames, I thought it would be quite a short book. After all, how many people would want to swim in the Thames?
But I soon realised that bathing in London’s great waterway used to be the norm, that river racing reached its peak in Victorian times and that now, with the Thames the cleanest in living memory, there has been a real resurgence in ‘wild swimming’.