British Museum members’ evening

14 December 2011

To the British Museum for a members’ evening. They only happen five times a year. The woman in information told me there are about 30,000 members. About 2,000 come to any one of these evenings.

In the Great Hall a choir was singing Christmas carols. The main lights were off and a son-et-lumiere effect projected giant snowflakes on the walls and ceiling. The big draw of the night was Grayson Perry giving a talk about the exhibition he’s curated. Quite a long queue for tickets so I gave it a miss. I walked up to room 63, a long gallery, to listen to an Indian woman tell an Indian folk story. Then up more stairs to the top of the building to the Japanese gallery. A woman explaining how one of Japan’s leading manga artists has created a manga adventure story based in the British Museum and an ancient mystery connected with BM treasures. I’d never been to the Japan gallery before. Very stylish and calming, even the full size samurai outfit.

Back through the Egyptian galleries to the bridge to the raised restaurant. People were eating fancy meals to the accompaniment of the choir’s carols. I sauntered round the shop fingering books and scarves and figurines. Christmas is coming!

Finally I sauntered out under the massive portico and into the drizzly London night. I was only there for forty-five minutes but I felt inestimably cleansed, elevated and purified from the trivia of work. I wandered off through the wet London streets, floating a few inches from the pavement.

The British Museum

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