The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

Go to the Moon in Greenwich, London

There’s moon stuff everywhere as we mark 50 years since humans first stepped on its surface. I’ve watched the documentaries and read the articles so it was time to head on one of the top exhibitions in London celebrating this moment.   The National Maritime Museum’s The Moon caught my eye for its claim to be ‘the UK’s biggest exhibition dedicated to our celestial neighbour’!

The Moon gives us a chance to understand how the moon has been viewed, studied, mapped, been an inspiration for art and religion and finally a destination. The exhibition runs broadly chronologically and thematically and following that format here are some of my highlights.

Some fascinating old books show us how scientists over the centuries have puzzled at how the heavens worked and what this might mean for us on earth.  This tome uses paper disks so that if the reader follows the instructions on the left to move the disks on the right hand page, they can calculate the movement of the planets, the moon and the sun and even predict the next eclipse! Not bad for 1540…

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

At a time before books, this tabled dates from 172 BCE and tells of the fears in Ancient Mesopotamia that an eclipse is an omen of evil forces that could threaten the king’s life.  We are told of the rituals used to ward of this evil in the ancient cuneiform writing.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

This Persian book dating from 1436 explains on this page how the moon’s phases are resulting from reflected sunlight whereas stars shine with their own light.  Beautifully drawn.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

This book particularly caught my eye due to its title, The Starry Messenger, as I went to see a play with this title on the London stage recently.  Starring Matthew Broderick as an astronomer who teaches adults students but dreams of doing research. I had not known that the title comes from this book by Galileo from 1610.  He shocked the world by suggesting the planets circle round the sun rather than round the earth as was believed at the time.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

I rarely see the moon going through its phases as I live in a city and the skies are often cloudy, so it was fascinating to see that there are 8 phases and ‘gibbous’ appears in 2 of them!

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

A wall of moons is a clever way of visitors being able to track what stage the moon is at on the day of their visit.  The wall goes right up to 31st and covers the 6 months of the rest of 2019.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

Moons, especially crescent moons, are often found in art and religion and these photos show the crescent moon found on top of mosques – this is the East London Mosque. The left hand photo shows an Egyptian moon god with a full moon on a crescent shape headdress

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching the phases of the moon pass through on the video on the wall was mesmerising so do stick with this link even if it takes a while to load:  The Moon’s phases at NMM Greenwich

Representations of the moon in art are found throughout the exhibition and so many were delightful but mindful I were I was, this piece by Henry Pether of The Thames and Greenwich Hospital by Moonlight was one I stopped by for some time.  Linking the naval traditions of Greenwich with its history of astronomy, this peaceful scene connects the moon and the sea quite beautifully.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

As telescopes got stronger, the moon’s surface could be studied in more detail and this massive, full wall sized 25 piece work is staggering and when published was the most detailed map of the moon ever made.  This is Hugh Wilkins’ 3rd edition published in 1951 and I was amazed to read he was an astronomer in his spare time and these maps were a life’s work – how proud he would have been to have his work in this exhibition. .

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

We move through this extensive exhibition into the sections about the space race when things really got going as Russia and the USA pushed technological boundaries to be the first in space and then the ultimate prize, to step on the moon.  Great moon visuals are dotted all around the large, well presented rooms:

The Moon exhibition at the NMM Greenwich

Another first was the first photograph of the dark side of the moon, taken in 1959 by an orbiting spacecraft. Therefore this was the first time humans had seen the hidden side of the moon and I feel an underrated moment.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

Photos of the earth were another first, showing our beautiful blue planet. This ‘Earthrise’ photo taken in 1968 and helped kick-start the environmental movement by showing its, and therefore our, fragility in space.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

The race to the moon advanced through the first cosmonaut, the first orbit, the first space walk and finally the event that led to this exhibition, the first step on the moon on 20th July 1969

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

Fake news claims were around even then and conspiracy theories that the landings were staged by the US government to beat the Russians.  The Fortean Times pushes this idea along with ‘face on Mars’ and ‘front line phantoms’.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

What about the British contribution?  Tom Bacon  developed this fuel cell electrode which produced electric power and the exhaust water was of drinkable quality. Bacon’s cell was much more efficient than any other available and President Nixon said ‘Tom, without you, we wouldn’t have gotten to the Moon. ‘ – wow!

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

The exploration of space has been great fodder for popular culture with films such 2001 A Space Odyssey and endless monsters such as this Harryhausen monster from The First Man on the Moon.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, the human imagination didn’t need the extraordinary photos from space to inspire them. With spooky foresight, back in 1870, Jules Verne’s Around the Moon has a take off from Florida and a splash down in the Pacific.

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

The last sections of the exhibition asks whether and when we will return to the moon or go on to other planets. Will there be enough political will, money, incentive to make these momentous journeys in the future?

Throughout the exhibition yo will find fun interactive activities and this with the range of displays and information make this an engaging, informative and visually arresting exhibition.

As you leave, this evocative photo stays in your mind….

The Moon exhibition at NMM Greenwich

For more information about The Moon and the National Maritime Museum click here.

Full disclosure:  I was invited to visit this exhibitoin by the National Maritime Museum as is customary in the travel industry. This has not influenced  my review but I believe in transparency.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman at the National Portrait Gallery

Cindy Sherman’s major show at the National Portrait Gallery looks back at her long career at the peak of world photography .  She is most well known for taking pictures of herself but this is not a world of selfies as she creates a wide range of personas using herself as the model, many of which are unrecognisable as the same person.  This show covers her 40 year career with examples from each of her major series of work.

The exhibition takes us from her earliest work, featuring her degree show pictures through each stage of her developing different personas.  We go through film sets,  history portraits, magazine covers, pornography, fashion  to society women.   The range is staggering and often it’s a challenge to see Cindy in them,  so brilliantly has she taken on the persona she is seeking, creating the illusion of a changed identity.

I was lucky enough to have a tour of the exhibition by the curator, Paul Moorhouse, and this gave me a deeper insight to Cindy and her work.  One thing Paul  told us that really stayed with me was that Cindy does not let anyone in on her creative process.  She works entirely alone in her study as she creates these characters, not even letting an assistant into the study.   Back in her early days she had done some work on location but this had proved difficult as it required help from others and getting dressed and ready in public so from then on all her work was made in the studio.

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Andy Murrah

What’s on in London Summer 2019

Here’s the newsletter which goes out to my subscribers giving them loads of information about what’s on in London. Summer 2019 is going to be a fun time judging by all the amazing events and shows on.  Enjoy…

It's Your London logo

Andy MurrahHere’s your Summer 2019 newsletter giving you a taster of the exciting events coming up in the next 3 months in our capital. If you want to hear more about anything listed (or other things you’ve heard about) send me an email (sue@itsyourlondon.co.uk) and I’ll get right back to you.

Have a look at Sue’s blog on the website (www.itsyourlondon.co.uk) to read about what I’ve been up to lately – a peek into life in London. I’m also on Twitter at @itsyourlondon so do join my 4250 followers for the latest news and I’m on Instagram as @sueinlondon for some lovely photos.

Hope you enjoy your newsletter and are excited about what’s on in London  let me know what you think!

Sue

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Serpentine Pavilion 2019

The Serpentine Pavilion 2019

The annual opening of the Serpentine Pavilion is a real sign that we are properly into the London summer, even if the weather is not always as warm as we’d like.

Each year a new architect is chosen to bring their vision of a temporary pavilion to the site next to the original Serpentine Gallery. This competition has been going since  2000 when the first winner was Zaha Hadid and it has grown into a showcase for emerging talent from around the world.

This year’s Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Junya Ishigami, a Japanese architect who is known for his experimental structures which reflect natural phenomena.   The result is a wonderful wing shape roof of Cumbrian slate which produces an open covered space.  The brilliance of the design and the construction gives us a structure which seems light and fluid in its shape.  The 61 tons of slate that make up the single canopy roof give it a strong organic feel but the way it is supported and shaped make it appear light and somehow growing out of the surrounding grass.

Serpentine Pavilion 2019

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Victoria at Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace, Queen Victoria’s childhood home

Kensington Palace has spruced up the rooms where Princess Victoria grew up to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth.  Alongside these permanent rooms is a temporary exhibition Victoria: Woman and Crown which examines her role as matriarch and monarch.   Victoria spent her formative years at Kensington Palace and became Queen here before moving the short distance to Buckingham Palace, the first sovereign to live there.

Victoria at Kensington Palace

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Leonardo da Vinci drawings

Da Vinci’s drawings grace the Queen’s Gallery

The Queen owns priceless art treasures and thanks to her ancestors’ collecting habits the Royal Collection is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world.

The Royal Collection contains the greatest collection of da VInci drawings, a group of 550 drawings that have remained together since his death in 1519 and rarely shown so they are in excellent condition.  At his death in 1519, Da VInci left all his drawings to his pupil Francesco Melzi who kept them faithfully until his own death when the sculptor Pompeo Leoni acquired them and mounted them in at least 2 albums. By 1630 one of the albums had reached England into the collection of the Earl of Arundel until around 1670 when Charles ll acquired it, perhaps as a gift from the Earl but ‘acquired’ is a little vague in the royal context! King Charles II was keen buyer and acquirer of art and his interest in these drawings was a master stroke.  In the 1900s they were removed from the album but luckily it was kept and preserved and here it is, on proud display.  Its contents remain an unbroken group as they were in 1519.

Leonardo da Vinci drawings

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Secret Rivers Museum of London Docklands

Secret Rivers tells a new story of London

It’s always a treat to travel on the Thames so when the Museum of London Docklands said they were launching their new exhibition Secret Rivers, we thought we should arrive by river boat to honour London’s watery past and present.

Taking one of the Thames Clippers along the Thames is a wonderful way to travel and see the sights that make London so famous. Whizzing past the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, St Paul’s, Tate Modern, Globe theatre, Tower of London and then under Tower Bridge is almost an overload of top sights.

Arriving at the museum’s building you are taken back in the days when London’s docklands were full of old warehouses and wharves, not Canary Wharf’s modern glass towers.  Their new exhibition Secret Rivers is really good and I learned a lot about the Thames and its tributaries, so many of  which are now lost or hidden.

Secret Rivers Museum of London Docklands

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Beasts of London, Museum of London

London’s Beasts come to the Museum of London

When you think of the animals which live among us in London,  you are likely to conjure up pigeons,  squirrels and foxes not the magnificent beasts of the jungle and arctic.  A visit to Beasts of London at the Museum of London will change all that.  Did you know that London has been home to lions since pre history,  to zebras and even a polar bear?  You’ll hear about these beasts and many more as you step into the new immersive exhibition at the Museum of London. Continue reading