Each of the masks above represents one of the young people (over 100 of them) involved in curating the new, cleverly named Our Londinium 2012, recently opened at the Museum of London. The exhibition constitutes the Museum of London’s contribution to Stories of the World
I visited a few days after opening, intrigued by the concept of seeing how Rome is still an influence in today’s London, and having already posted my picture of the Portico in Hackney to their Flickr group Londinium through a Lens I was very pleased to see they’ve used it as part of the exhibition!
(The Portico has been an orphanage and headquarters of the Salvation Army, and is now the Portico City Learning Centre. They’ve cleverly added a modern bit behind the Roman-influenced bit.)
The exhibition isn’t just about ancient Roman finds – it’s about finding similarities between the way we live in London today and the way we used to at the time of the Roman empire.
These specially designed WAH nails, for instance, as well as the Piz Buin and shaving accoutrements, show that we look after our physical appearance just as much as the Romans did, though perhaps the technology and fashions have changed to the extent that we can now glue plastic garish nails onto our fingers and cover ourselves in orange goo in the name of “beauty”.
This juxtaposition of the V for Vendetta masks used in the Occupy London protests with a bust of the Emperor Hadrian is a comment on power and authority then and now.
And these two beautiful items clearly show that we still have a love of beautiful objects.
Olly Gibbs was responsible for the look of the exhibition, and the centurion’s helmet (above) is his. You probably can’t see the detail but inside the helmet are pictured such modern items as headphones, doughnuts, trainers and Japanese waving cats, Maneki Niko.
What I thought was clever about Our Londinium 2012 was the surprise of finding out of place modern items (are they really so out of place?) amongst the ancient artefacts. Some may find it comforting that we haven’t really changed that much since the days when Londinium had its own forum (now it has Westfield), though to be honest I find it a bit depressing.
Anyway, a splendid effort, and Andrew who showed me round advised that this exhibition is a sort of tester to see how some of the ideas in this sort of display can be used within the museum’s upcoming and newly designed Roman London Gallery.
The next exhibition at the Museum of London will definitely be of interest to Quirky Travel, as it’s all about Doctors, Dissection and the Resurrection Men and it opens in October. Our Londinium 2012 runs until 2014.
Museum of London Address
150 London Wall
London EC2Y 5HN
Opening times: Monday to Sunday: 10am-6pm
Nearest tube stations: Barbican and St Paul’s