I managed to get off the treadmill of work for five minutes yesterday to take a look at the fabulous new camel on display in the Central Hall (below) as a preview for the soon to open Animal Inside Out exhibition. It stood imposingly, surrounded by admirers taking photographs of themselves beside it ‘and practically kissing it as they did’, according to Julian, our Sales and Systems Manager.
This was in between his trying to make arrangements to fix a guttering light in the Central Hall, removing some children playing at being pterodactyls on the balcony and discussing with me and Gary, newly promoted to Head of Visitor Services, whether the best place for the camel at tonight's late opening would be in the middle of the Blue Bar (no!). To see where it will be standing, you'll have to come to the Museum tonight.
Above: Last month's late opening of our Scott's Last Expedition exhibition (left) and the enigmatic Captain Scott who was thought to have died on 29 March 1912, as photographed by Herbert Ponting.
Earlier this week I was at a conference at the Royal Society, which is situated very close to Waterloo Place where there is a monumental bronze statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. I gave it a nod as I passed, for not only do we have Scott's Last Expedition exhibition on here at the Museum, but one hundred years ago on 29 March 1912 the intrepid – not to say superhuman – Captain Scott and his companions finally gave up their unequal struggle with the mighty powers of Nature and passed into history. I have just found out that, movingly, the statue was sculpted by Kathleen Scott, his widow, which explains the special resonance that the statue possesses.
We are marking the anniversary at Lates with Mastercard with a special free poetry and song performance by poet Kiran Millward Hayward (left) and folk-guitarist Jake Wilson in the Darwin Centre café (close to the entrance of Scott’s Last Expedition) between 18.30 and 19.45. Kiran will be performing readings from Last March, a collection of poems about the expedition commissioned by the Scott Polar Research Institute. These readings will be woven around by songs from Jake’s All’s Well, which are inspired by Scott and his men.
Scott’s bronze overlooks a rack of blue Boris bikes. As the weather has been so fine I was pretty tempted to hire one of these after the conference and cycle back to the Museum, as long as Lycra wasn’t involved. And, if I was not already going to be here chained to my desk like a camel to a water wheel on Friday, I would indeed be very tempted to bike over to us in the evening for a glass or two at our bars.
I hope that you will be equally tempted to join us for what was After Hours with Mastercard and is now called Lates with Mastercard (After Hours is now the title for all our adult evening events, not just the final Friday of the month) and raise a glass or two to the heroic endeavours of Captain Scott and his team.
To book tickets for the Scott's Last Expedition exhibition for tonight, please call 020 7942 5725.
Animal Inside Out opens to the public on Friday 6 April, and has its first evening opening at the Lates in April.
Read the recent blog about Scott's last days remembered in our exhibition. And read the news story about this week's visit from the British Services Antarctic Expedition team.