Sunday, November 4, 2007

"The" museum

I've been waiting for this day for a very long time. It was hard sitting in London all this time without getting here, but today I finally got to go to the British Museum. Rick Steves gives as good an intro as any, so I'll quote his Rick Steves' London 2008 book:

"In the 19th century, the British flag flew over one-fourth of the world. London was the world's capital, where women in saris walked the streets with men in top hats. And England collected art as fast as it collected colonies.

The British Museum is the chronicle of Western civilization...The British museum is the only place I can think of where you can follow the rise and fall of three great civilizations--Egypt, Assyria, and Greece -- in a few hours with a coffe break in the middle."

So basically, what Rick is saying in a slightly more diplomatic way is that the British Museum is completely awesome because they stole all the important stuff from the entire rest of the world and then refused to give it back (and still do). For example, you can see the entire pediment and all of the friezes from the Greek Parthenon, and they're still named after the guy who climbed up there, sawed them off, and shipped them all back to dear old England. So maybe they're a bunch of jerks, but their museum is exquisite.

Oh, that chunk rock you see to your left is the Rosetta Stone. It has the same text written in three different languages, and one of them is Egyptian Hieroglyph. Did I mention this museum is beyond amazing? And free?

We also saw the special temporary exhibit containing some of the Terracotta Army, built by the first emperor China ever had.

After all of this, we actually went looking for more and headed over to check out England's art museum, called the National Gallery. Among the Vermeers and Rembrandts were paintings by Michaelangelo, Raphael, etc.

No comments: