The Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, London, contains the national collection of Western prints and drawings, in the same way as the National Gallery and Tate hold the national collection of paintings. It is one of the top three collections of its kind in the world. There are approximately 50,000 drawings and over two million prints dating from the beginning of the 15th century up to the present day. The collection is available to the public through a programme of temporary displays in Room 90a exploring objects from across the collection. There's a fascinating exhibition opening in Room 35 from 6th September to 20th January. Its working title is ‘I Object' and it explores how people have used objects to subvert official ideology and to mock the powerful or to challenge the status quo throughout history. This exhibition will feature a range of objects, the earliest of which are 5,000 years old – from ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Egypt to modern America, Mexico, Africa, China, Britain and Europe. Highlights include the suffragettes of the Edwardian era, and the work of outspoken Chinese artists. Take a look online for more details at britishmuseum.org.
Explore our Maritime Past
2018 is an exciting year for Royal Museums Greenwich with the opening of a number of new galleries and exhibitions. Autumn will see the opening of the Exploration Wing, four new galleries spanning Pacific and Polar exploration and Britain's maritime past. At the National Maritime Museum enjoy the work of some of Britain's best loved photographers, Martin Parr, Tony-ray Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts in the special exhibition, The Great British Seaside: Photography from the 1960s to the Present. The ‘Exploration Wing' will bring four new permanent galleries to the National Maritime Museum. Looking into exploration in its widest sense, each of the four new galleries will bring the themes alive for people of all ages: ‘Pacific Encounters'; ‘Polar Worlds'; ‘Tudor and Stuart Seafarers'; and ‘Sea Things', a gallery showcasing the richness of the Museum's collections. In March, ‘The Great British Seaside: Photography from the 1960s to Present' will open. Delving into our love affair with the seaside it will feature over 100 works by some of Britain's most celebrated photographers and explore our changing relationship with the seaside over the last six decades. Expect to see images from the archival collections of each of the photographers, news film as well as some never-before-seen images. Take a look online at rmg.co.uk.
In love with letters
Promising a first class day out, The Postal Museum in London holds a collection spanning five centuries of postal history. It incorporates everything from groundbreaking design and quirky technology to the intimacy of personal letters. The Museum only opened last July and the eagerly awaited ‘Mail Rail' transported visitors into uncharted tunnels in September. The opening marked the end of an ambitious year and a half project, to convert a disused Clerkenwell printing factory into the new museum site, and bring the disused Mail Rail tunnels back to life as a ride for the first time in their 100-year history. Celebrating the surprising and quirky history of Britain's earliest social network, the post, The Postal Museum contains five zones, leading visitors through five centuries of worldclass curiosities and providing a different view on some of the world's most significant historical events. Each zone contains interactive exhibits designed to bring the story behind the post to life, from a growling lioness telling the story of the time an escaped circus lioness attacked a Mail Coach, to an interactive game where visitors take on the role of a Mail Coach guard, to a cinema showing ground-breaking films by the General Post Office's own film unit, set up in the 1930s to promote the organisation's work. All of that, plus you can see the sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II used to produce the iconic image replicated more than 220 billion times on stamps. The list of quirky things to see and do goes on and on. Tickets for The Postal Museum and Mail Rail can be bought online in advance at postalmuseum.org.
Ponderin g Pl ants
Kew’s iconic Temperate House is set to re-open on 5th May, after a five-year restoration. The biggest in its history, the undertaking has been truly immense - the entire framework of the building has been painstakingly repaired, and its thousands of panes of glass replaced, along with its intricate ironwork and expansive paved flooring. Around 500 plants were taken out and housed in a temporary nursery, with an incredible 10,000 going back in, many of them propagated by Kew's leading horticulturists. While retaining its Victorian splendour, the renovated Temperate House will embody cutting edge engineering techniques, and is expected to be a vital, forward facing beacon of contemporary plant education. This magnificent structure will once again be home – as it had been since its birth in 1863 – to some of the world's rarest and most threatened plants. The plants in the Temperate House will be made up of 1,500 species, from temperate regions around the world - the Mediterranean, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America, Asia, and Island floras. A programme of interactive events and artistic entertainment, running throughout the summer and designed for the whole family, will really bring the stories of these plants to life. Be one of the first to see the restored Temperate House by booking online at kew.org.
Engineerin g Feats
There's a fabulous opportunity to see the amazing Concorde at the new Aerospace Bristol this year. This new heritage museum and learning centre in north Bristol tells the story – past, present and future – of the South West's world-class aerospace industry. The museum opened its doors back in October to showcase the brilliance of British innovation, design and engineering, displaying artefacts spanning 100 years of aviation history and bringing together nationally significant exhibits and hidden archive records for the first time. The show-stopping centrepiece will be Concorde Alpha Foxtrot, the last Concorde to be built and the last to fly. There will also be an archive store and reading room, conference and meeting spaces, play and picnic areas, and a café and shop. Book your tickets online at aerospacebristol.org.