What I really liked about all of the statues is that they were out on the floor interspersed through the collection so you could see things at eye-level (and not through panes of glass). Although there were moments where I was envisioning accidentally knocking over a bust and being banned from all museums ever, it's always nice to be able to walk among the art and imagine what it may have been to live like when these were the types of things used to decorate. From an artist's standpoint, I am always happy to be able to get close enough to see the marks the artists made and the way they created the different effects like facial hair or fabric.
The glass and ceramic vessels always have a special place in my heart, having spent a lot of time working in both mediums. It makes me feel connected to the historic tradition of the processes, especially since barring electric heating, they probably would have made these pieces the same way I would today. I especially like how if you look closely, you can see individual brusk strokes in some or marks made while building it in others- you can see the hand of the artist thousands of years after their deaths. It makes me want to go out and build something!
Does this one really need any explanation? People have been making awesome things to wear out of gold for thousands of years, so I'm pretty sure the appeal is hardwired into us. The collection of jewelry and other gold objects is vast, and it will give you major jewelry envy. Also, as a note because I was so amazed by it- that picture on the top right? It's tough to show scale, but it goes around your NECK- it's like an inch thick of solid gold, plus the huge ornaments on the ends. Nice.
Overall I had a really nice time at the museum- it was totally different in feel from the Victoria & Albert Museum, so it was fun to see them close together to be able to compare. There was beautiful soaring architecture in the main rotunda area that brought the outdoors in, an easy to navigate and well-marked floor plan, and an amazingly comprehensive collection of historic artifacts- if you've studied it in history, they've probably got a room for it here. As an American, it really reminded me that the Brits were exploring and conquering and accumulating these treasures for centuries before there even WAS an America.
-This is another FREE museum- woo woo! Cultural appreciation FTW!
-Very navigable- everything goes in a straight line, in a square, and is easily numbered both on the map and in the rooms so even the directionally challenged like myself would have no problem getting where you are trying to go. And in the rooms there are maps pointing you to some of the more interesting displays. It's like museums for dummies.
-A truly expansive collection- probably the biggest museum of historical and cultural artifacts that I have ever been to.
-The Parthenon sculptures (commonly called the Elgin marbles)- I know there is controversy about these statues being in a museum in London rather than in Athens (I, too, was bummed when I went to Greece and saw how little there was of it at the Parthenon), but it really is thrilling to see these up close in the galleries designed to hold them. For me, they alone would be worth a visit even if I didn't want to spend the whole day at the museum.
-That marble got really tough to walk on after about 3 hours, and the seating was neither as plentiful nor as comfortable as at the V&A. My fault for not wearing more comfortable shoes, but be forewarned.
-The collection is vast- its really a double edged sword. There is so much to see that even when I tried to follow the map's list of must-sees for a short visit, I spent about four hours- who can walk past all of that amazing work to only see like 12 pieces? By the end I was burnt out.
I can't think of how to say this other than it was a very "museum-y" museum- a lot of marble, a lot of history and culture, not a lot else. If that's up your alley, you'll have a great time. If not, you may find this one less to your liking. However, because it is free and pretty central, if you are visiting London and have time I would still recommend popping in to see the Parthenon statues on the first floor- they're pretty amazing in person.