Forty years ago, punk exploded in London, changing the city’s music, fashion and culture. Our new exhibition, Punks, looks at the spirit of 1976 and its influence today. But how do you represent something as multifaceted, vibrant and anarchic as the punk scene in a museum? Exhibition curator Jen Kavanagh talks about how she captured the lives of London punks.
This year, Punk.London celebrates 40 years of music, fashion, and life in the city. The Museum of London has commissioned two new documentary films, Punks parts one and two, which feature interviews with former punks in iconic venues across the city. Watch them now, visit our Punks exhibition, or read a behind the scenes take from the film-makers below.
A new display at the Museum of London Docklands tells a story of extraordinary bravery in east London during the Second World War. Vyki Sparkes, curator of social and working history, and Nick Moore, son of the man awarded a George Cross for his heroism, discuss the medals and the man awarded them.
Pearly Kings and Queens are an iconic image of London, easily recognised by their distinctive suits and accessories covered with patterns of mother-of-pearl buttons. They’ve inspired fashion designers, costume makers, and been featured in everything from films to the London Olympics opening ceremony. We’re showing off some beautiful Pearly clothes ourselves, in anew display at the museum. But do you know the meaning and surprising history behind the costume?
The Museum of London website has had a makeover. As part of this we have changed where and how we display our blog content. You can still enjoy the same quality of in depth writing and curatorial expertise in the Discover section of the website.
What can you discover on the new site?
Photography curator Anna Sparham shares her thoughts on the extraordinary variety of subcultures and scenes on display in Dick Scott-Stewart’s pictures of young punks and rockabillies, wrestlers and the people who watch other people from the audience. Anna is the curator of Stomping Grounds: Photographs by Dick Scott-Stewart, opens on 27 May, free to visit.
It’s been claimed to be a Druidic altar, a Roman milestone, and the magical ‘heart of London’. It’s one of London’s most ancient landmarks, but most people have never heard of it – or if they have, they’ve heard one of the strange legends that have sprouted up around it. Curator Emeritus John Clark (formerly curator of the Museum’s medieval collections) examines the myths and the colourful cast of characters who created them, from William Blake to an eccentric Welsh priest. You can see London Stone for yourself, on display in the War, Plague and Fire Gallery at the Musuem of London.
Senior Fashion Curator Beatrice Behlen and Curatorial Assistant Natasha Fenner discuss the surprisingly physical act of making beautiful artificial flowers by hand. These astonishingly detailed, hand-assembled flowers were used to decorate dresses, bonnets and hats, several of which you can see on display in the Show Space exhibition: The Art of Flower Making.
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Opens 23 July 2016
Our first family focused exhibition at our London Wall site, Fire! Fire! offers families and interactive way to learn more about the history of the Great Fire of London. Visit the oven in Pudding Lane where the fire started and follow its path of destruction as you learn how the fire changed the physical make up of the city and things we now take for granted such as fire insurance and fire safety. Create your vision of the city and learn more about the plights of 17th century refugees. Find out more or book a ticket.
Mudlarks Gallery © Museum of London Docklands
Mudlarks is an interactive space for our younger visitors and their carers, introducing the stories told within the museum in a fun and stimulating environment designed to support children’s learning and development from babies up to 8 years old. Free, though a ticket is required. Book a ticket today.
by Natasha Fenner, Assistant Curator
Each year in February our attention is turned towards love, with the occurrence of Saint Valentine’s Day. This year in our temporary Show Space display we have featured objects and an oral history that tell the love stories of four London couples.
The objects, all quite new acquisitions to the museum’s collection, relate to pivotal moments in the couples’ relationships. They have been kept and treasured over many years, symbolic of the personal and unique ways in which love is expressed.
One of the items on display is an icing model of a liquid waste disposal truck that adorned the wedding cake of Eileen Rice and Reg Flavell. Married on 11 July 1937 at St Barnabas Church, East Dulwich the couple celebrated their reception at Pritchard’s Restaurant on Oxford Street.
The bride, reported as wearing crepe and silver, chose a wedding cake to match her colour scheme. The three-tier cake was decorated with delicate white and silver flowers and supported on an ornate silver base. It was topped with the finely detailed white and silver icing model of a gully emptier truck. These trucks, later known as ‘sludge gulpers’, were used to clean drains and suck up industrial and domestic waste, making the model a unique way for the couple to crown their cake. Their choice was a nod to the place they met; the Mechanical Cleansing Service in Burbage Road, Dulwich. Eileen worked in the office as a secretary and met Reg when he joined the business as an accountant.
The company, founded by Eileen’s father Alfred Rice in 1927, specialised in the removal and disposal of a wide range of liquid waste products for industrial, government, local authority and domestic clients. This included the clearing of household cesspits for which the advertising slogan ‘your business is our business’ was used! At its peak, the Mechanical Cleansing Service had a fleet of over 120 vehicles.
The model on top of Eileen and Reg’s wedding cake depicted the pride of their fleet, an Albion petrol gully emptier. After the wedding the model was preserved under a glass dome which sat on a filing cabinet in Reg’s office. He went on to become Managing Director of the company, a position he filled until his retirement in 1972. The couple’s son, Den, recalls that after his father’s retirement the icing cake topper was moved to their family home and took pride of place in the dining room.
Now a part of the museum’s collection it is an enduring symbol of their love and of the importance of the family business in their lives. It also reveals a lighter side to the necessary work of cleaning the dirt from the metropolis of London!
See the wedding cake topper and other romantic objects in Love Stories, in the Show Space display area.
Free to visit. Closes 17 March 2016.
Tell us what you think by tweeting your thoughts including #LoveStories and #ShowSpace.