Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is another free museum in London.  Since I had some spare time today, I thought I'd check it out, even though I had no idea what was in it.  It's named after Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert.  The museum is really fancy, and is like an art museum, but not quite.  There's no real way for me to explain it, so be patient with me.  Not only does it have art on display (more than traditional art too, it has jewelry, fashion, theater, etc), but it has displays on how they make the artwork and replicas of it as well.

What I thought was one of the coolest exhibits was this huge "statue garden" of sorts (it was inside, so it wasn't really a statue garden) where it had replicas of all sorts of famous statues.  One room was dedicated to Italy and the other to the rest of Europe.

Unfortunately, the Italy room (picture above) was closed down for work, but you could still look down into it.  Perhaps the most famous work of art you can see in the photo is a replica of the famed Statue of David.  Michelangelo created the statue between 1501 and 1504, and it now resides in the Accademia Gallery in Florence.  I couldn't go up to it, but it was absolutely HUGE, the real statue is 17.1 feet tall.  I know it wasn't the real thing, but that was about as close as I'm going to get to the real thing at the moment.  This statue in England actually has a fig leaf that can be attached for modesty's sake.  This was created because Queen Victoria was so shocked at the fact that the statue was completely naked.  It was only used when Victoria was going to come and see the statue.

Now you could go down into the European room and walk around, which was really cool.  It kind of reminded me of an artist's studio with statues and everything all over the place, and you just wandered around looking at them.

The European room is dominated by two huge replicas of Trajan's Column.  Trajan was a Roman Emperor from 98-117 A.D.  This column was built in Rome to commemorate Traja's victory in the Dacian Wars.  Including the pedestal, the real column is roughly 125 feet tall.  On December 4, 1587, Pope Sixtus V had a statue of St. Peter added to the top, which is still there today.  These are, of course, two replicas that aren't nearly as high, but they're still huge and intimidating looking.  Other highlights of the European room include replica effigies of famous rulers such as Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Eleanor lived during the High Middle Ages and was one of the most powerful women of the time, she was queen in her own right of both England and France; she lived from 1124-1204, not bad for the era she lived in.  The room also had replica Celtic crosses and entrances to various churches scattered throughout Europe. 

For obvious reasons, my favorite room at the museum was the theater room.  A lot of it was early theater, very little musical theater, but I did manage to find some displays that particularly caught my attention.

Above is the orchestration book to one of my favorite musicals ever, Jesus Christ Superstar.  It opened on Broadway in 1971 and was written/composed by the famous duo Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.  It chronicles the last week of Jesus Christ as told by Judas Iscariot (in a subtle way), all to the tune of catchy rock music.  It's a fantastic musical that came out as a movie in 1973 starring Ted Neeley as Jesus and Carl Anderson as Judas, and it was made a movie again in 2000 with Glen Carter as Jesus and Jerome Pradon as Judas (that's the movie I prefer, but both are equally excellent).  The book above is open to one of the first songs, "What's the Buzz?"  Below is a YouTube video of that song in the 2000 movie.

I also got to see two costumes from the also excellent musical, Lion King, based on the wildly successful (no pun intended) Disney movie of the same name.

Above are Scar and Sarabi's costumes.  Scar is Simba's uncle and Sarabi is Simba's mother, for those of you who forgot.  On the Scar costume, he is holding a cane, and the mask can come down to cover the actor's face, which is does a few times.  On Sarabi's costume, there are white/blue ribbons hidden in the eyes, and they are used as tears.  The musical opened on Broadway in 1997 after a successful opening run in Minneapolis, Minnesota (kind of a random place to start in my opinion).  It went on to win multiple Tony Awards (the equavalent of the Oscars in musical theater), and is still running strong both on Broadway and in London, along with several other locations.  Check it out, there's a trailer below.  It's definitely worth seeing in my opinion.

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