On Thursday 15th October, the first year History students (myself included) set out on a journey to the City of London. This was especially exciting for two of our members, one of which was me, as it was our first trip to the capital. We arrived at the Museum of London at around 12pm, a bit behind schedule due to London traffic. We set off for a tour of the city’s great architecture under the tutelage of our esteemed lecturer Iain. The early parts of the tour were spent distinguishing between Modernist and Post-Modernist examples of architecture. We then moved on to looking to older examples of architecture such as various circuses (two semi-circle sets of buildings with mirrored exits from the circus). From there we went to examine the Broadgate development, which occupies the middle ground between the old city – the financial heart of the old empire – and Canary Wharf, the breakaway financial sector which appeared during the time of economic de-regulation. The Broadgate development was a mixture of high end shops and interesting post-modern architecture, including the coliseum-like centre piece – the Broadgate circle. Further round the work we examined the Lloyds building (a vast building resembling an oil-rig), the Gherkin, and the designs of various new buildings around the city. From there we moved onto Bank Junction where we observed the Bank of England, No 1 the Poultry and the Royal Exchange, which were all fascinating pieces of architecture.
We subsequently moved on to the second part of the trip, the Museum tour. This museum tour differed massively from any that I had previously experienced. We were split up into groups and half the groups walked around one half of the museum and the rest walked around the other half. The aim of looking around was to analyse the museum and discuss whether it took a modern or a post-modern approach to being a museum. It was decided that actually different parts of the museum utilised different methods of putting its point across and different ways of teaching you about history. Some favoured a more hands on and interactive approach, whereas others favoured the traditional museum approach of exhibits in glass boxes. Upon finishing our self-guided tour of the museum exhibits we presented our findings to the rest of the groups. It was here that we discovered that many of the exhibits which displayed artefacts in the traditional manner were the ones that were exhibiting earlier history. The more modern the history the more interactive the museum display seemed to be. My personal favourite of the exhibits was the incredibly ornate Lord Mayor’s Carriage, which my group believed to be an example of a post-modern design. All in all the trip was a great success. We learned a lot on our tour around London and especially in the museum which was fascinating. We returned home tired and a little hungry but a lot more knowledgeable. Although personally I won’t be returning to London anytime soon (too many people, not enough green space, trees or cows for my liking) I can certainly see the appeal for more city orientated people.