It gives me great pleasure to post the first entry here as Blogger in Residence for the Museum of London. Having lived on the doorstep of the Museum of London for six years, it has always been a place to come to access London’s history in a matter of minutes, from a Romano-British child’s shoe, to a 17th century mummified cat, to a silver tankard commemorating the Great Fire, to a century-old black cab. Over those years the Museum has moved from being a dark place filled with remarkable artifacts to a bright, interactive and welcoming space to learn more about the city. It is an invaluable resource: somewhere that instantly enables me to feel at the centre of the City in both geography and time.
So, as I love nothing more than a good story and live next to a place simply spilling over with them, it seemed like the sensible thing for us to put our collective heads together and bring some of the Museum’s, and hence London’s people and objects to you on a regular basis.
There can be few greater statements of the Museum’s commitment and respect for London than the 17,000 skeletons of Londoners from pre-history to 1850 carefully interred in its brick rotunda, forming the Western edge of London Wall, the ancient boundary of the City. The innovative new Modern Galleries reflect this commitment to bring the people of London’s past – the artisans, street performers, tourists, the pleasure garden and theatre-goers into the experience of today’s museum visitor. As blogger for the Museum (the first ‘in residence’ for any museum in the world), it will be my aim to bring out the tales within the Museum and its huge collections. I hope to spark debate on objects and their purpose, people, buildings and on how London has, and continues to grow and change. Blogging is interactive and organic: involvement and comment is encouraged. It is hoped the blog will create another way for visitors to enhance their enjoyment of the Museum of London and promote an awareness of its holdings and work outside the London Wall site.
One little known aspect of the Museum’s work is the Archaeology Department’s involvement on every earthworks within the City of London. The quiet, industrious MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) is responsible for discovering and preserving the history hidden beneath the high-rises. The blog will be bringing more of this fascinating and extensive work to light, which recently involved uncovering the theatre in Shoreditch where Romeo and Juliet was first performed, and whose timbers when dismantled were rowed across an icy Thames to build the original Globe.
And blogging for the Museum doesn’t mean I’ll just be sitting behind a screen: I’ll be donning everything from white coats to waders, looking at bones and boxes of treasure, and also taking photos and making podcasts. The blog will be a chance to see behind the walls of this very special, very lively museum. I hope you’ll join me – I think it’s going to be amazing.