Once again I went to what used to be the Royal Museum. Once again, I didn’t make it past the grand gallery. It really is the most extraordinary space.
I wandered up to the top two floors (I think they might be 3 and 5 by their numbering but I’m already confused by the main floor not being the ground floor) and saw the rest of the Windows on the World display. The more I see of this, the more I love it. The different items next to each other are very subtly related by shape or colour or texture or theme and the artistic effect is fantastic – their exhibition designer has such a pitch-perfect eye.
Up on these upper floors are some of the engineering models which you can set moving – I did feel slightly alarmed when a model engine seemed to rattle the ceramic bowls suspended above my head! Also notable were sea creatures in jars, some lovely geological specimens and a bicycle made for many!
I felt slightly uncomfortable on the top floor – my nonsense vertigo. I was very tentative when it came to moving to the railing to get a good picture, or even picking my way past the glass lift shaft. It reminded me of the balcony in Paisley Museum – I know that wasn’t as high up but I was much smaller at the time! I used to be absolutely horrified by the man-trap in one of the displays on their balcony which genuinely gave me nightmares. I wonder whether it’s still there?
I went to a talk at the National Gallery at lunchtime about the making of the museum and I was impressed to find out that 80% of the exhibits have never been shown before: it really is a new museum. I have two pictures in my imagination: one is the curators all rubbing their hands with glee at getting to redesign their exhibits from scratch, and the other is the taxidermists waiting by the phone for their call to say that a zoo in the US or Australia has some newly-dead animal and do they want it!