Tag Archives: British Museum

A Day for Arts and Culture

For those of you have been following my blog, you know that over the last couple of summers I have traveled for internships to fulfill the requirements of my Masters in Arts Management from George Mason University in Virginia. 

My focus during my time at Mason was on international arts management, as I hope to one day move out of the United States and work in the arts or cultural realm abroad. England is a good place to start, I think, for someone who is interested in arts policy and fundraising because, despite still being quite different from the US, the UK has the closest related system that wouldn’t be such a stretch to learn and adapt to. 

That being said, I had hoped to visit several performing arts organizations during this trip and have a chat with some of the administration just to get a feel for what it might be like to work in the UK, and in London specifically. As you know from my previous posts, it didn’t really happen. 

But today I was able to visits several different arts and cultural organizations that have solidified even more my desire to someday move to and work in Europe. 

The first stop today was at the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts. It’s been a dream of mine to visit this amazing school that had produced some of the finest actors Britain had ever known, as well as top-level theatre technicians and set/costume designers.

Sadly, my friend Jeniffer and I were not allowed to visit any classrooms, but we did get a chance to speak to a woman who works at the cafe which is open to the public. She was able to tell us a lot about how the school functions and what it takes to be a student at RADA. We would have loved to see a performance, but the school had just opened again from winter break, so there was no chance of that happening. Guess I’ll just have to come back sometime. 



We then returned to the British Museum. The forty-five minutes there the other day was simply not enough to fully grasp the amazing amount of knowledge and artifacts available in these halls. 

Jeniffer and I walked through ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, medieval Europe, and the empire of the Mayans. There were some famous pieces like the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chess Pieces, and the double-headed turquoise serpent. Tons of lesser known, but no less important, pieces grabbed our attention and filled us with wonder and interest. 




We could have easily spent another couples of hours than we did in the British Museum because we didn’t see anything from the Middle East, Asia, or Africa. Such an amazing museum!

Once we left the British Museum, we headed across town by Tube for the Victoria and Albert Museum. This is a world-famous museum, yet none of the exhibits really caught my fancy. That is to say, except one in the history of underwear. It was a special exhibit, however, requiring a tickets and I was already spending so much money today that I thought it would be best not to go. 

There were some pretty things-mostly clothing and instruments from the 19th century. But soon we decided to move on to something a little more interesting. 


That something happened to be right nearby. 

Royal Albert Hall is a fantastic performance venue that presents all sorts of acts. The big show they are currently advertising is an act from Cirque du Solei called Ama Luna. 

We didn’t get to go inside and explore, but it was cool to be able to see the venue again and be reminded of good memories from the NEYE 2009 tour. 


One thing I don’t remember doing the last time I was here was walking around the back of the Hall and seeing the monument to Queen Elizabeth as well as the Royal College of Music. 



While we still were not able to explore classrooms and the like, Jeniffer and I were able to see a lot more of the building than we did at RADA. There was gorgeous marble everywhere and mosaic-tiled floors. No performances were taking place, but it sounded like a rehearsal of an opera or something was taking place in the hall. 

As if all that wasn’t enough, the final touch was to see a performance of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. 

Wow. Just wow. 

I was completely blown away by the sets, the costumes, the lights, the orchestra, the actors, and of course, the music. No spoiler warnings, but I will say that it definitely helps to be familiar with the Wizard of Oz story, either from the original book or the 1939 film, in order to catch or understand all the references in this phenomenal musical. 

It was a treat for me (so much cheaper to see it here than on Broadway), but it was an extra special treat for Jeniffer because she had never been to a musical before. What a show to give a first impression of the wonderful world of musical theatre!


It truly has been a wonderful day, my second to last in London. I have yet to see what my final day will be filled with, but I’ll be sure to share tomorrow. 

-Wandering Minstrelette

PS – I hope you’ve been enjoying the pictures I’ve been sharing. They were all taken from my iPhone 7. 

Cramming in the Highlights

There are so many wonderful things to see in London, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do. 

So I was thankful when potential plans to go out of the city fell through, because it meant I was able to see a few more things I had on my list. 

One thing I had always wanted to see was the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Online I had discovered that the Band of the Scots Guard was going to be participating in the ceremony today, so I knew I had to go. 

My new friend Jeniffer, whom I had met last week, joined me in the massive group of people craning to see anything of the time-seasoned tradition within and near the gated palace courtyard. 


The soldiers were wearing their winter gray coats instead of their brilliant red uniforms, but the bear hats seemed fluffier somehow from when I had come last time (which had been summer). 


There were no bagpipes in the band, as I had been hoping, but the members of the ensemble were without a doubt amazing musicians and I enjoyed everything they performed. It was kind of cute that some of the instruments, brass mostly, had little leather jackets. I’m wondering if it was to keep the instrument warm or help the player hold it while marching. Probably the latter. 

As I had mentioned before, there were tons of people present to see the ceremony meaning not everyone really had a good view. Jeniffer, myself, and some others nearby started watching everything from some other guy’s phone screen, since he was filming with a selfie stick and was able to stick it through the fence to get a better angle. 


Maybe seeing something like this on TV would have allowed us to have better views, but I actually really enjoyed the experience of being out there and feeling the atmosphere of tradition and pomp. 



Once the ceremony was over, we met another friend, Barbara, by the National Gallery and took a bus to Tower Bridge. The setting sun shone perfectly for pictures of the bridge and the nearby buildings. 




Eventually Jeniffer had to split, but Barbara and I continued our adventure by visiting the British Museum. Hopefully I will be able to go back before I leave London because in the 45 minutes we had before the closing of the museum, we saw some wonderful things and there was so much more yet to see. 





I always love seeing artifacts from ancient cultures and imagining how life must have been once upon a time. Some of the pieces were quite stunning and thought provoking, but the lion from Babylon’s gate had a special sense of nostalgia, bringing me back to my trip to when I had seen the whole Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. 


After the museum closed down, Barbara decided she was ready to head home. I, however, felt like the night was still young and pondered what to do for a while. Purchasing same night tickets for the West End was expensive, there were no movies out that I desired to see, and most everything interesting was already closed. 

Then I remembered that there was a place I wanted to visit that was certainly open – the extravagant and magnificent Harrods department store!

I had been told many stories about this place, so I had to experience it for myself. 

Gracious, it was overwhelming. 


Six floors, plus a ground and basement level, with literally anything you could ever think of. Furniture, books, technology, toys, jewelry, perfume, wine, top-of-the-line (sometimes exotic) groceries, and of course, lots and lots of clothes. 

Each area was decorated to create a certain mood that aligned with the products. I mean, highly decorated. I can’t imagine how long and how many people it must have taken to put this whole thing together. 


One special moment in the store, though, was coming across a memorial statue and fountain to Princess Diana and her lover, Dodi Al Fayed, that supports underserved children in the community that the princess was originally from. It was touching and very human. There was even a condolences book that people could sign. It’s amazing how much Princess Diana is still missed after all these years. 


Wandering through the halls on nearly every floor, I observed the types of things sold and the prices they were marked at. You did not come to Harrods to find something cheap. Even things on sale were pretty far out of my price range, including the groceries section. It truly is a place of wealth and extravagance.  

Literally, there is a restaurant dedicated to all things truffles. 

By that alone, I think you get my point. 

It was only after meandering on most of the floors, that I decided it was finally time to end my day and head home. Besides, tomorrow is going to be very exciting and I want to be well rested!

But I won’t tell you what it is, you’ll just have to stop by the blog tomorrow to find out. 

Hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start!

-Wandering Minstrelette