Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 7: British Museum, Dickens; British Museum! Dickens!

Wednesday morning started out with a tube ride up to the British Museum. We got there just as it opened, and yet there was still a hoard of people, cameras flashing, surrounding the Rosetta Stone. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I think I was the only person looking at the back of the stone, trying to tell what kind of rock it's on. From there we walked back to the Parthenon room, followed by a quick stop at the Easter Island head. I really enjoyed seeing some artifacts from Arctic peoples in that last room.

Our morning visit to the British Museum ended quickly then, with the promise of return after a visit to the Charles Dickens Museum. The Museum is located in a house in which Dickens lived for two years. The rooms of the house make up the museum galleries; some are refurnished to imitate what they probably looked like when Dickens lived in them, others contained artifacts pertaining to Dickens, his family, and his works; and others dealt with special topics. In this case, the special topic was Oliver Twist, meant to coincide with the current stage production of Oliver on the West End. The Dickens Museum only took a little more than half an hour's perusal, and even for someone like me who isn't particularly a Dickens fan, it was well worth the visit.

After our smaller library group reconvened for lunch in one of the British Museum cafes, we had a bit more time for looking about on our own. Where did I spend my time? Why, with the Lewis Chessmen, of course! I always enjoy looking at them, focusing in on details while many museum visitors simply walk around the display case. What a treasure!

Speaking of treasures, my group was lucky enough to get a tour of the public library within the British Museum itself, the Paul Hamlyn and Central Libraries. At the risk of repeating my library visit-specific post, may I mention that this tour involved a secret door? A secret door hidden in plain sight? Fantastic.

On the way back to the flats from our day up around Bloomsbury, some friends and I got tickets to see Oliver! What with our Dickensian theme to at least part of our day, it seemed very fitting.

And, boy, was I glad that we went to see that particular musical! The cast was phenomenally talented, especially the young boy playing Oliver; I couldn't believe the clarity of his voice! The sets, also, were simply amazing. The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, where the show was performed, is apparently a deeper stage, and the scenery was so intricate and nuanced that it really felt as if you were in a place in London. Add in the power of a pretty large chorus and you're bound to have just such a whopper of a show.

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