Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Snow Black, Laura's visit, animals, mummies and legs at the National Museum of Scotland

Last week the lovely laura susan simmons came to stay and somewhere between drinking lots of tea, brewing the occasional alcoholic coffee, eating our way through a stupid amount of strawberries and cream and chatting for so long that getting dressed didn't always happen until mid afternoon, we had a really productive drawing and photoshopping week.
We visited the National Museum of Scotland on a really rainy day. We mainly looked around the animal world which I really liked, though I wasn't keen on the way the taxidermy fox had been mounted to the wall (impaled on a metal bracket....)....Laura got a bit freaked out about the animals being killed just to be a museum piece and really didn't like the dead baby animals, and we both felt a bit sick when we thought too much about getting the job of stuffing a giraffe...sometimes it would be better for us both if our imaginations were less vivid maybe...(read Laura's blog for more on the taxidermy and animal behavior)

Before the Victorian part of the building was refurbished I used to love sitting in the grand hall on a rainy day, the mood would change when the sky clouded over and you could sit and watch all the fish in the 1960s ponds and it felt like escaping from the city. With the refurbishment i'm quite sad that its no longer that place. Although it is still an amazing space to be in, it doesn't feel like you can stay for long, it feels more like a circulation space. I read somewhere in the architects intent that only 10 percent of visitors ever made it above the first floor gallery, so what I don't really understand is why the top floor gallery space now hosts an exhibit of marble busts because it doesn't encourage you to go any further up.
Its really confusing how they have also changed the entrance because internally it doesn't seem to work as the large entrance doors are now redundant and it makes for a really confusing space, its like everything i ever read in the psychology for architects in practice..
From the outside of the building, I'm really not keen on the new entrance either, I think that the original architect's wishes of how to enter the building should have been respected and that excavating to create a new entrance must have eaten up a lot of budget, leaving the original steps outside redundant. I'm not sure of the architect's intent with the new entrance,(Laura's guess is that it was all a bit like the Tate Modern in that you entered through a dark space at the base of the building..) I have heard of some of the design intent being related to having light and dark spaces, and so maybe the intent was to bring visitors through an underground dark space (the vaults) and escalate them up into the light (the main hall) to make a big impact, but it all seems to have got a bit lost again with bad planning of circulation routes. I think it would work if you entered the vaults and there was a really clear pathway/stair that led you straight up into the gallery but instead you have to navigate your way though exhibition pieces that don't seem to have any relation to each other or to that space. I think its a shame as the vaults have never been open to the public before and now that they are, I dont think they are being used well.
Laura and I have an aversion to any exhibitions on ancient Egypt as we both think its wrong and just plain weird to have mummies in museums. It really freaks me out and the last time I saw one in London I felt like I was going to be sick, especially when people take photographs, it's a dead person, you freaks, what are they doing with the photos when they get home?! it's wrong, it's weird,stop it! i used to love learning about ancient Egypt when i was at school and i think that if they had such strong beliefs in the afterlife and that so much care was taken in how they were prepared for burial then they should be left even if they are thousands of years old. I hope they haunt the freaks that take their photos. Needless to say, we didn't visit the ancient Egypt exhibition incase we encountered a mummy, but Laura did have a good point that maybe the exhibition should be in the vaults as, if we had been to see it, we're sure it would have been full of artifacts (and dead people) that have been buried in vault like spaces.
I will visit the museum again because I am still in love with the main hall despite being sad about it being less of a public space, but I'm not really in love with the way parts of it have been redesigned. Though, it is easy for me to be really critical when i didn't actually work on it, faced with a museum design I would probably sit and scratch my head, consume a stupid amount of tea and panic a lot before doing anything productive because I love museums and galleries and the pressure of making it successful might just tip me over...(for a much more insightful review of the building's refurbishment from a designer's perspective click here!)
Whilst there we also took a walk over to the modern part of the building to get out of the crowds, I've not been in that space for quite a while and it was quite a rushed visit. It's a shame that it seems to have lost some of its sparkle now that the Victorian part has been restored. One thing I really like about the new part is the seats that are recessed in staircases and in spaces near the lift lobbies. There's something i like about not being able to see the person sitting there from certain angles, just a pair of legs....I don't know why I like it so much, here are some sketches of my most regularly worn shoes at the moment so if you are ever at the museum and you see these legs and shoes worn by someone in a recessed seat, it may well just be me....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...