STUDENT BLOGS: Theatre in London: Sites, Sounds, and Situations
the british museum
by Mary Alice Nichols
After an evening of the best sleep you can ever imagine, our rejuvenated group hit the streets and headed over to the British Museum, which was just a short walk away.
As the name of the museum lets on, its sole purpose is to hold the goods that have been "acquired" by the British Empire. So, in the museum there is everything from the Rosetta Stone, to an Easter Island statue, from Greek vases, to many African tribal masks. When examining the museum map in order to try and determine where to start, you get lost in the dizzying wealth of objects and exhibitions that it contains.
However, lucky for me, I had been to the British Museum just this past fall, so I decided to pick up right where I left off, in the "Enlightenment" hall. In this extremely long corridor used to live some sort of royal library (Although whose, I cannot remember. My apologies.), but now it is home to anything and everything associated with the Enlightenment period. So while there are still books, there are also collections of roots and stones, "new" scientific instruments, and objects obtained during this period on many of the "Great Tours" that younger men of wealth (Specifically Sir John Sloane) took during this period.
There were several things that caught my eye and I took enough time with them to memorize the details and so I can share with you all! The first was among the roots and stones collections where I found some funny trivia about chocolate. When Sloane (from whom much of this exhibit can be attributed to) was in India on his Grand Tour, he discovered chocolate, but he found it so disgusting until he mixed it with sugar and milk. After which he used it as a method to help cure indigestion until he passed the secrets off to the Cadbury brothers, who were the founders of the ever-popular Cadbury chocolate.
Next, in the same hall, I discovered some of the British Treasury's old tick mark sticks, which they used to help calculate taxes and were stored in the basement of the Houses of Parliament. It was all of these sticks that are given the credit for fueling the burning of the Parliament building in 1834.
The British Museum contains many other treasures which I might be able to explore more of later in the week, but we had a schedule to adhere to, so we had to begin our walk of Shoreditch and East London later in the morning, leaving us little time to explore the entirety of the British Museum.