Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ocean Liners at the V&A

There are three major museums in South Kensington, but when I was young there was really only two: the spaceships and robots museum (aka Science) and the dinosaur museum (aka Natural History).

On the other side of Museum Road I knew there was something called the Victoria and Albert (V&A) but it seemed to be all about textiles, clothes and plates, which was clearly really dull.

So it is only recently that I've been inside and found out that V&A has a fantastic courtyard (one of the best in London) and is only mostly dull, for there are sometimes exhibitions of interest, such as the one on the moment about Ocean Liners.

This exhibition covers the world of the ocean liner when it was a glamorous way to travel, so from the end of the 19th century to the start of the 2nd World War (mostly). It's also limited to a few of the big firms and routes, with a large emphasis on the transatlantic route to New York.

So nothing about the Blue Funnel Line then.

It was full of interest, from the old posters (like the one above) to magnificent models, such as this cut-away that shows the different levels of opulence from 1st to 2nd and finally 3rd class in the bowels of the boat:

There is of course mention of that most famous of all liners, with this deck chair from the Titanic:

There's also focus on the glamour of liner life during the roaring twenties and fabulous (darling) thirties when top movie stars and socialites graced the decks of the super-ships battling for the Blue Ribbon:

Post war the emphasis was on leisure, swimming and sunbathing:

Then air travel took over and the super liners ended up dismantled or in the case of the Queen Mary, turned into a museum in its own right.

At the exit, film clips show the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Leonardo DiCaprio, as if to remind us of how they influence us still. The memory of those glamorous vessels, and the rich and famous that sailed on them, remains strong; echos of those glorious days and nights at sea.

An exhibition worth popping into the V&A for, even if, like for me, it isn't your usual haunt.

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