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One CDMX Museum

A while ago I came across a Facebook post title, ‘If You Had To Choose One Museum In Mexico City, what would it be?’, with the basic premise that the visitor will be in the city for just three days. I never got around to putting in my suggestion, but I enjoyed reading other people’s recommendations. I’ve seen my fair share of Mexico City’s museums. In fact, there can’t be that many people who’ve been to more of the city’s museums than I. Continue reading

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Be a Culture Vulture: Top 3 Museums in London

Visiting London is an absolute must at some point – whether you’re a local who wants to spend a couple of days appreciating everything that a city so familiar has on offer to those living further afield in search of a rewarding city break, London has so much going on that it’d be a shame not to see it. With plenty of cheap hotels in London available from Hotels4U, you have no excuse this year – head to the big smoke and see what all the fuss is about!

Whilst you’re there, be sure to check out some of the museum offerings. London is famed for its museums and art galleries and the selection is phenomenal. Here are our top three that are not to be missed.

Natural History Museum

If it’s only to see the colossal dinosaur skeleton replica looming above you in the main foyer, a trip to the NHM is totally worth it. Add to that plenty of exhibitions and displays that cover all elements of natural history, you will be able to while away many an hour. Pop by the café before you leave too – the food is delicious!

Science Museum

Popular with kids and the young at heart, the Science Museum has a plethora of interactive displays and artefacts, meticulously strewn across eight floors, including a 3D IMAX cinema and the Wellcome Wing, dedicated to digital technology.

As one of the three main museums on Exhibition Road, it can’t be missed because of its vast size and shouldn’t be missed due to what it has in store.

Victoria & Albert Museum

The third of the Exhibition Road offerings, the V&A Museum focuses largely on art and design through the ages and with over 4.5million permanent artefacts, there’s plenty to feast your eyes on. Despite its 145 galleries, only a small percentage of their collection is ever on display at one given time.

The great thing about museum visits in London is that, unless you want to pay to see the special exhibitions, entry is completely free to most of them – perfect if you’re visiting the city on a shoestring. Start planning your break in the English capital, today.

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Museum Gallery

I recently took a swipe at people who walk around museums taking photos of every single exhibit. I must confess, I have gotten snap happy in plenty of museums before. Never have I tried to document every item though. That would be silly. But I did get to thinking, was all the effort worthwhile? Do I have enough photos to create a decent gallery to display to the world. Well, the answer to that question is subjective.

The browse through a whole load of old museum based photos did drive home what a vast quantity of very mediocre photos I possess. Museums are poorly lit, and decent photography is difficult without a DSLR.  And that did reinforce my opinion that spending your entire visit photographing everything is wasted time. Still, I have curated a selection of my better photos for you. You can be the judge. Featuring museums and exhibits from both the UK and Mexico.

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Museum Etiquette for Photographers

More and more museums, galleries and other places of interest are banning photography. Some museums have always forbidden photography for various reasons, or limited photography due to copyright issues. It is ever so frustrating. But I don’t entirely blame them. There are more photographers out there than ever before, and far too many of them break the rules or otherwise cause a disturbance. I’m sure most museums would actually like people to take a few snaps. They get uploaded, tagged and shared – free advertising! If only everyone could be trusted to behave themselves. Here’s my quick guide to Museum Etiquette. I know. It’s all so obvious. To everyone bar millions upon million of museum visitors, anyway.

Ask Permission

If you see no signage giving guidance on photography, then ask someone. It’s so simple. Preferably someone who actually works there. As opposed to a random passer-by. Find out if you can take photographs, if there are any restrictions and if flash is allowed or not.

Turn Off The Flash

Before you even take the first photo, check that your flash is turned off. Take a practice shot in the foyer. Quite frankly, inconsiderate idiots who start shooting with their flash turned on when it is not allowed should be kicked out of the museum, and perhaps even kicked into the gutter a little bit. They ruin it for everyone.

Go With The Flow

If it’s busy, don’t hold everyone up by insisting on shooting the same thing from every angle, or getting the same shot a half dozen times for each friend you’ve got with you. If possible, visit when the museum is quiet. But regardless, once you’ve got your shot, move on and allow others to have a go. This is precisely why St Pauls Cathedral in London have banned photography – too many people loitering under the dome in a massed huddle.

Pick and Choose

This one really gets me. There are countless people who now seem to want to shoot every painting or exhibit in the museum. Why on earth would you do that? Just because you can? Seriously, to all those people in the Van Gogh museum who snapped literally every painting…Van Gogh is actually quite famous. There’s not a single piece of his work that is not already available to see on the internet. Your photo is not going to be the slightest bit better than what is already out there.

Just try and think about why you’re taking the photo. I like to take photos in museums. I’ll grab a few shots of museum scenes and a few shots of some of the exhibits. For memories and to use on my blog. Sometimes I’ll see something that I feel I want to shoot in a different way. Or something that is not well know. Or something that is particularly interesting. But I’m not going to ruin my whole visit, as well as other people’s, by trying to document every last shard of pottery.

 

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Museum of London

The Museum of London is a truly great museum. A must see, if you’re passing through town. You’ll rarely find a museum so welcoming – a uniformed host greets every visitor and offers help. The museum is logically laid out, the exhibits beautifully displayed and the thought that has gone into creating the ‘London experience’ is admirable. It’s an intelligent museum.

I’d like to think I know London, having lived there for so long. My knowledge barely scratches the surface. I found the first gallery, London before London, particularly fascinating. That’s a part of the city’s history (or pre-history) that I knew little about. Later on in the life of the city the exhibits introduced information I have been privy too before now. Amongst the photos I uploaded to Flickr and Google+, there are a number of snapshots of facts and figures that I liked.

Britain hasn’t always been an island. The river Thames was once a tributary of the Rhine. We English are commonly  referred to as Anglo Saxons, thanks to the Germans. And our language also comes courtesy, in large part, of the Germans. That’s something for the fringe BNP loons to ponder next time they start foaming at the mouth at the prospect of ‘German domination’ in the 21st century.

One more thing I like about the Museum of London. They really get social media. More so than any other museum I’ve yet visited. Their website, blog and Facebook presence are all well integrated, regularly put to use and provide worthwhile material. It works. It helped to get me through the doors.

 

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The Mystery Museum

I took Paola to her favourite museum in Bournemouth on Saturday. It’s an art gallery housed in a most fabulous old house with an equally fascinating story. It’s very much the English version of Mexico City’s Dolores Olmedo. But better. This pair of travellers set off around the world by boat, long before the advent of the airplane. I suspect they were a little wealthier, by a magnitude or five. On one stop, they filled a hundred cases with art and antiquities.

The name of this must see attraction? Meh. This museum has a flaw, one it shares to a degree with the Museo Dolores Olmedo. No photography allowed. My blog posts are more often than not an accompaniment, sometimes just an excuse, to explain from whence my latest photos were taken. But because of the ban, I can only show you the one below, of the exterior of the building.

I do understand why some photography might be limited. These sort of houses often host artwork belonging to other galleries, stately homes or other collections, and have to respect the wishes of the copyright owners. But that doesn’t justify a blanket ban. I’d have loved to show you photos I’d taken of the permanent exhibits and the interior architecture of this museum. But I can’t. And it does seem a bit pointless. There are photos available on the web of many of their sculptures, paintings and antiquities. For example, a quick Google search soon turns up a multitude of results for perhaps the most famous painting of their entire collection.

There’s a better way, and it benefits both the visitors and the museum. Grant permission for visitors to take photos for non commercial purposes. Visitors take away memories in full technicolor. The museum gets free advertising. Simply put clear signage to show where photography is and isn’t allowed. Charge a small fee if necessary to cover the costs. Give photographs a sticker to put on their cameras to show they’ve paid. Worried about flash photography. Put the sticker over the flash!

It’s that simple. Encourage photography. Be clear what is allowed. Make a little extra money. Get a whole load of free coverage across the net. The name of this museum? I more often than not simply don’t even go inside museums with photography bans. And given that photography is my hobby, I definitely don’t offer free advertising. It wouldn’t take long to identify it from the clues I’ve given. And it really is a great museum. I just wish they’d let me show you how great.

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Maps, Movies and Modern Marvels

The San Il Defonso museum (map), just behind the Metropolitan Cathedral that towers over the Zocalo in the heart of Mexico City, has always been one of my favourites. It´s a big museum, and often hosts two or even three exhibitions alongside its permanent stuff. Sometimes those exhibitions are good. Some even fantastic. Occasionally there is a ´must visit´amongst them. At the moment, all three temps are in the latter category. And there is a British flavour to two of them.

Old maps are always interesting. Not that they help you see how the world looked centuries ago, but to see how the people of the time thought the world looked. A map was a political, economical and imperial tool as well as a status symbol. There`s plenty of British maps on display – they are noticeably more accurate. That`s a key reason why zero degrees longitude goes through London, not Paris or New York.

There´s also an exhibtion dealing with the Mexicvan revolution and cinema. They are even showing old films in a projection room. Get along to the museum early, allow yourself plenty of time, and get comfortable. And finally there is a fabulous exhibition showing the international works of Norman Foster, the British architect, through photos, models and drawings. Including a large mock up of a proposed Campus Biometropolis in the south of Mexico City. This was, I have to say, the first I`d heard of it.

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