January 3, 2000

The Go See Card

Monday was the first day of our trip that much was open. But, because it was a bank holiday, our choices were still limited. We decided to start with the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The V&A and about 15 other museums had a cooperative ticket arrangement. You could buy a 3 or 7 day ticket that would allow you unlimited access to all participating museums (some special exhibitions are extra). The GoSee Card (formerly called the White Card) cost us £ 26 each for 7 days. Adding up the admission fees for the museums we were planning to hit, the card was only a break even proposition. But, we were able to experiment with a number of museums that we wouldn't have otherwise paid to go to. In most cases we were pleasantly surprised. And in the few cases where we were disappointed we were able to leave quickly without feeling ripped off.

Noticing that my link to the GoSee card site was not working, I did a little web searching. It looks like GoSee is now gone and has been replaced by the similar London Pass. This new pass has a longer list of attractions, is more expensive, and no longer includes the V&A.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The V&A is one of the must see museums in London. Its collections are simply phenominal. Their focus is antiquities from around the world.

One of the star attractions are the Elgin Marbles. These are a substantial portion of the sculptures from the outside of the Greek Parthanon. The Louvre in Paris also has a large collection. Very few of the pieces remain in Greece although there is an effort to return the pieces there. The marble pieces are arranged along the walls of a very large room in the order that they would have been found on the outside of the real building.

The Elgin Marbles

Some more Greek sculpture

The Great Bed of Ware is a famous huge and elaborate bed. Its referred to in Shakespeare and other 16th century sources.

The Gread Bed

Lloyd enjoys 16th Century fencing. So, he spent a lot of time and film on the V&A's rapiers and daggers.

I thought spring loaded daggers were a movie invention.

Two views of the same weapons. Note the large metal practice tip on the dagger.
(Lloyd's recreation weapon in pretty close to the sword on the left)

Some elaborate rapier hilts

A bunch of pistols

The V&A is also home to a large collection of artifacts from the Sutton Hoo archaeological site. The dig has located artifacts ranging from the bronze age to the 8th Century.

Helm artifact and a modern copy.

Patty beside a recreated kettle.

One of Patty's hobbies is crazy quilting. So we of course had to get a shot of her beside one in their collection.

On our way out, we passed...

A really big lion

The Natural History Museum

Next door to the V&A (and part of the GoSee card) is the Natural History Museum. This is a very nicely done, high quality natural history museum, but it was tuned more for children than for adults and due to the rainy holiday full of them. We visited a couple of exhibits including the dinosaurs and then headed off.

The Science Museum

Behind the Natural History Museum is the Science Museum. Since the natural sciences are pretty throroughly covered down the street, this museum focuses much more on techology. We enjoyed a very nice exhibit on DaVinci era mechanical science, including working scale models of many of the amazing machines. (This extra fee exhibit was still free with our GoSee cards).

Another large exhibit was the computing machines. They were even working on building a working model of a Babbage difference engine. Only small prototypes of this first mechanical computing machine were built by Mr. Babbage due to the cost of the detailed machining. They're working on a full scale machine. Still unfinished, it is nevertheless an impressive piece of work.

The Babbage Machine.

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Copyright © 2000 Lloyd B. Eldred, all rights reserved.