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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

This is a museum ..... not a snoozeum!

After my recent jaunt out to take in the sites of the town last week, Miss Mannequin is thrilled to report on what is happening over at The Museum of London, where five gloriously informative galleries have recently been relaunched. Not even a mile from my Barbican showgirl's home, this magnificent institution charts life in our fair capital. From the Great Fire of London onwards, the lower galleries tell the tale of the developments and grand schemes of London and more importantly perhaps, the everyday lives of its citizens. Miss Mannequin was most especially fascinated by the costumes and paraphernalia of London society (high and low brow) and came across many of my old mannequin mates.

A particular highlight was the beautifully engineered Pleasure Gardens gallery (of which i showed you a sneak preview last week), where Miss Mannequin imagined how much more interesting life was during the 18th and 19th Centuries when pleasure gardens were the height of novelty and fashion. Privately owned and often sited on the outskirts of great cities, pleasure gardens could be accessed (at a small fee) for the public to take a turn in, enjoying tree lined avenues, fountains, orchestras amongst the greenery and the like. Imagine taking refreshment in a night-time walled garden with fireworks popping overheard as you admire the fashion parade passing by you. Quite delightful. Miss Mannequin wholly approves and thinks we should resurrect such amusement immediately .... on the other hand, is that not what shopping malls and high streets have become these days? Not quite the same me-thinks!

The other high-point i want to tell you about from the galleries, is the exquisite mantua style Fanshawe dress on display. Named after it's owner (former Mayoress Anne Fanshawe), this beautifully preserved garment is exhibited on a cutaway mannequin (it takes all kinds - invisibility was never my thing though!). This wide, but narrow style of dress was popular around 1750 and held it shape with the aid of a panniered underskirt constructed from whalebone. Taking up to six months to weave the fabric alone, the expanse of material could be grandly displayed to show not only its beauty, but also the wealth of its owner! A bit of a problem for getting into carriages however!

Miss mannequin admired many other exhibits and will divulge more soon. In the meantime, you really should visit and .... don't forget to let me know what you think.

The Museum of London is at London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN

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