Let’s begin with a thought, how many people in today’s society succumb to hoarding tendencies? Plenty of us, myself included. There’s even reality television shows about extreme hoarders. Take hoarding to a royal scale and prepare yourself to be blown away.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, fondly known as the “V&A” to locals, puts to shame any television hoarder. 12 acres, 6 floors, over 4.5 million objects. The museum was created after the Great Exhibition burned down post-Decorative Arts Movement in the 19th century.
This museum reminded me of a labyrinth of art. Anything from biblical tapestries, to Italian fashion, to wedding dresses, to sculptures….the list goes on and on. But the jewels. OH. THOSE. JEWELS. (Hint hint, future husband wherever you are) Forget the Hope Diamond or Tiffany’s. I took in views of crowns from the Babylonian era, ancient Egypt, Caesar’s time. It was incredible, and of course, no pictures allowed in the jewel section due to security.
Ancient sculptures filled the halls, beds from royal kings so old there aren’t even pictures of them anymore. The collection was overwhelming, and I probably didn’t even glimpse half of it after three hours.
After the V&A, our group separated for the afternoon and I headed across the street to the Natural History Museum. Going back to my younger years, I played with every interactive exhibit I could get my hands on. My favorite was the earthquake demonstration. I stood in a set that reminded me of a grocery store in Japan. Shelves piled high with canned goods and food. All of the sudden, earthquake! The rumbling and small vibrations from the floor didn’t seem bad, butI didn’t realize this was just the beginning. The actual earthquake made me lose my balance and grab onto the nearest rail for safety. Jolting around violently, I held the rail tightly as food on the shelves slid everywhere, glass jars “breaking” as they fell onto the “floor” (it was a suspended pulley system for the demo exhibit), and I could hear screams coming from the people in the streets (off set). I’ve personally never experienced an earthquake, so this experience enlightened me about the sheer terror Earth’s natural disasters can cause.
Tagging along the earthquake exhibit was the tsunami education section. I watched footage from the Indonesian tsunami of 2004, which I remember seeing on the news. To have only 4 minutes from earthquake onset to tsunami arrival would be so terrifying to me, I would panic and not know what to do. The first wave was over 10 feet high, traveling so fast that poor people with no emergency information access didn’t stand a chance and were swept away. The power of the water astounded me as I watched cars, houses, people and anything else in its path be pushed aside as if it were a feather.
Beyond the geological sections, more jewels (yay) and life science exhibits fascinated me. Thousands of animal collections were on display, an entire floor devoted to the human body, with organs and different parts preserved in formaldehyde, and the “Darwin Experience,” which was outside and included an enormous butterfly cage.