Mostly artefacts and artifice: history in public

This week’s wrap-up stretches across museums and institutions concerned with history.

The Money Gallery: Britism Museum
The Money Gallery is a gallery that, would benefit from being properly expanded. The historical coinage/artefacts of trade are really interesting, including the chinese coins that didn’t change in 2000 years (that’s good design for you. The modern era of currency hasn’t really been explored that well and could unpack the nature of currency, value and monetary history.

The history of accounting was briefly covered with a monument to pretty much the first auditor, but could have expanded right out. Questions that could have been investigated include: How did accounting evolve? How did we, as a society, come to agree on ways of managing money? How did we establishing methods of checks and balances?
Given that money and trade and currency underpin society, British history and London as the centre of global Finance, I think it would give laymen an insight into finance and the ways in which it intersects with history, art and anthropology.

On the Road: British Library
The British Library is currently displaying the original scroll manuscript of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Toad. It’s a beautiful object that just oozes that manic style of the book and connects history, the importance of collection and the legacy of beat poetry. You couldn’t really read the words on it – with low lux protecting the manuscripts integrity making it a little difficult – but there were chunks of break-out text that reminded me of how great the book is.

The Jewellery Gallery: Victoria and Albert Museum
As a compliment to the history of trade and artefacts at the british museum, the jewellery gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum is about craftsmanship and social identity through the history of personal ornamentation. Of course it could be waaaaay bigger but, for a mostly-private collection, It is still pretty amazing.  Although it rarely changes, it is a gallery that those living in or visiting London can pop into for inspiration and a reminder of the immense wealth and power that is conveyed through bespoke jewellery.

On the street: Blue Plaques
When not popping into museums, of course you still get to experience a sense of history about London and history through the blue plaques scheme.

We walk past places where REAL SHIT HAPPENED. Yesterday I came across the old residence of Emmeline Pankhurst. Being a foreigner, Emmeline Pankhurst has, until now, been just be a name in the history books, or a link on wikipedia. Not a real person who did amazing things! Yesterday I had a moment where the history of her life and the reality of mine suddenly connected. Lineage.

In Australia, I’m removed from that. Which is exactly why colonisation works – I’m completely divorced from the immense history of the land I was raised on because my ancestors killed pretty much everyone who could have possibly passed down that history. And, because I’m from english stock and so far from the sites of my family history, the concept of being connected to history is a little foreign to me. Which is why I’m particularly enjoying the cold, dark and grey city I’m in.

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