Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday picture quiz

After a meeting in central London I took some time off to visit this building, but:
  • What is it?
  • What was it?
  • Why did something that happened here cause a spot of bother in the 20th Century?
  • What would you currently find there?
  • Why is what you'd find there rather topical?
  • Can you think of way of connecting it with the theme of "navigation"?


Chris Partridge said...

Gerard Hoffnung's advice to tourists included: "Have you tried the famous echo in the reading room of the British Museum?"

O Docker said...

Hopefully, a minimum of modern Egyptians will need the 'book' currently on display there.

tillerman said...

Hmmm. Well I guess Chris has given the game away, so I'll try to answer JP's specific questions.

1. Ceiling of the British Museum Reading Room, currently a space for exhibitions.

2. It really was a reading room once.

3. I have no idea.

4. There is currently an exhibition of the ancient Egyptian book of the dead.

5. Egypt? Duh?

6. The book is a guide for the deceased on how to "navigate" through the dangers of the underworld, ultimately ensuring eternal life. No? Well, it was all I could think of.

I am ashamed to admit I have never visited the museum. Must rectify the next time I am in London.

Baydog said...

Did we ever have a chance? O Docker, did you live in London as well as Lambertville? BTW, the ice on the Delaware is gone, finally

O Docker said...

In the post-Google age, Baydog, we are all virtual citizens of the globe.

Interesting that for many years only scholars and professional researchers were allowed access to the volumes in the reading room.

Will the only reading rooms of the future be found in museums?

I wonder how much this democritization of access to information has been responsible for revolutions like the one we're watching in Egypt.

Chris Partridge said...

I used to work in the Reading Room back in the day. It was very odd going from the classical grandeur of the museum to the lovely dome through a corridor that felt more like a passage in a warehouse. Samuel Butler wrote a hilarious essay on working in the reading room which you can read here: It is brilliant.

JP said...

All are absolutely correct (apart from Gerard Hoffnung's advice of course).

It was the home of the British Library before it moved to the new purpose built building next to Kings Cross / St. Pancras station.

As to 3), it was here that Karl Marx did a spot of writing.... alas.

Shocked by Tillerman's confession - must go next time you're in London.

The new courtyard is spectacular and its free to enter most of the exhibits so you can (for example) pop in and see just the Rosetta Stone.

tillerman said...

That Samuel Butler was quite a wag wasn't he? Seems like he was the O Docker of his day. I love that line saying he was "about to try and diminish the large and ever-increasing circle of my non-readers."

I'm sure all of us bloggers know exactly how he feels.