London (week 2)

Our second week in London was incredibly densely packed. I feel like I need two weeks alone in a cottage in Somerset to process the images, experiences and thoughts.

This was more of a research week for me as I had the chance to visit the Natural History Museum (South Kensington), the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory (in Greenwich), Sir John Soane’s Museum and the Hunterian Museum (Lincoln’s Inn Fields) and finally the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

I was chasing several diverse but interconnected obsessions simultaneously – the history of collecting and the evolution of museums, the enlightenment pursuit of a rational view of the world through scientific observation, the European exploration of the South Pacific, the early history of furniture making in the Australian colony, the history of Antarctic exploration and the technologies employed by the early explorers, the early drawings and writings from the Antarctic and finally our changing perception of whales and the histories of whaling.

London is the perfect city in which to conduct this research but my limited time here is only really sufficient to unearth further avenues of exploration. I’ll try to provide a taste of what I found and provide some of the links I hope to pursue myself in the next few entries.

One tidbit which I want to share here though is the Evelyn tables from the Hunterian. They are large wooden boards with the dried remains of painstaking dissections mounted to or more strictly dried onto them. Slightly creepy but also exquisite – like a macabre japanese byobu screen.

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