Through the first half of his bicentenary, Museum of London hosts a comprehensive exhibition about Charles Dickens, his influence on London life, and the influence of London life on his work. We went to the opening night – 9th December.
We went to the @Late event which also marked the opening night of the exhibition. Getting in to the Museum was our first obstacle. For reasons I still can’t understand we had to show our (pre-purchased) tickets at a desk, have our name checked on a list and our hand stamped before entry. We asked why, no one seemed to know.
We arrived a little early. Surprisingly, it was our first Cog Night at the Museum so it was great to get the chance to explore the galleries whilst we waited for our official time slot. There was a bar and food available, and the London Gay Men’s Chorus provided carols to enhance our Xmas spirit.
When we arrived at the exhibition entrance, no one checked our tickets (or our stamped hands), instead our names were checked on a clip-board list; most peculiar.
The exhibition was great, really well paced and packed with objects and insights. I wish the ‘map’ of the exhibition had been pointed out to us at the beginning (it was on the pack of the free guide but it was too dark to read and I didn’t discover it until the end). The space was laid out with a clear narrative and we were guided through in a very clever way, it just took me a long time to figure out how it all fitted together.
The exhibition was great; really well paced and packed with objects and insights.
The collection of exhibits was second-to-none: original manuscripts, etchings and paintings by Victorian Masters, the great man’s desk, and many contemporary objects that really brought the stories to life. The favourite section for us designers was the ‘Amusement of the People’ section, featuring bill-posters and theatrical ephemera, including original wood-blocked posters and colour-your-own cards.
As is often the case we were disappointed not getting to take part in the @late events. The Museum team had obviously gone to a lot of trouble to have people in costume, readings of the novels, badge making and a quiz (which we never found). It’s just a pity that we didn¹t know what was happening where and when. Perhaps the timetable of activity is obvious if you’re working on the event but you do need to tell your visitors.
Overall, a good night and great exhibition but if you’re going, do skim through the exhibition guide before you make your way around the space.