Sunday Afternoon at the British Museum

Sunday, Evan and I spent the afternoon starting to explore the British Museum. We pretty well conquered the first floor, and we’ll be back to check out the other areas soon, I’m sure.

First stop was the Rosetta Stone, which was quite impressive and always had a crowd around it. The we wandered among Egyptian artifacts, causing me to often ask, how did they get that here? Truly, the size and scope of the collection is pretty amazing. Though it also leads to the question, how did they get it here without someone from the original country intervening? Really, you’d think someone would notice their immense national treasures being exported. Apparently only recently countries have started to try and reclaim their historical goods, though I don’t think there’s too much movement there.

After the Egypt rooms, we went to see statues, urns, plates and jewelry from ancient Greece. The gold jewelry was really amazing. I really enjoyed checking out their coins, too. From there, we proceeded to a room with a reconstruction of a large tomb that looked like a temple, and on to pieces of the Parthenon, which seemed to be a lot of stone carving of naked men and horses or some hybrid of the two.

We stopped for tea at the museum restaurant, which is actually a Do & Co., which was a pleasant surprise. It’s upstairs in a neat lofty area in the center of the large covered entryway courtyard. It was quite elegant, with white tablecloths and a sort of white tent/sun shield above, so we were a bit surprised when they gave us a table slightly outside the short wall around the dining area. We felt a bit like the riff-raff, but our green tea, spring rolls and egg custard puffs were a nice break in our visit.

Once we were done with tea, it was almost time for the museum to close, so we checked out one last exhibit on the main floor — one about life and death. The exhibit brought together ceremonial items from indigenous cultures all over the world, bringing together colorful masks, statues, headdresses and robes and well as smaller items like tarot cards together in large display cases you could walk all the way around.

The centerpiece of the exhibit, though, was my favorite part: It was a sort of quilt woven together with pockets to include all the pills a person had taken in a lifetime. One side represented a man, the other a woman, and there were all sorts of medications there, from indigestions meds to nicotine patches to birth control pills and simple aspirins. It was striking to think about, and the quilts, which had markings for the age of the person, stretch most of the length of the large gallery. They were also accompanied by photos of life moments with captions. I believe I read that people are estimated to take about 14,000 pills over their lifetime in the UK. It was striking.

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