Renowned for its literary associations, the Bloomsbury area of London boasts three first class cultural institutions – the British Museum, the British Library, and the Wellcome Collection – all of which are putting on a series of exhibitions, talks, tours and events which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area this summer.
A highlight of the cultural calendar in London 2013 is the British Museum’s exhibition on Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Items which have never left Italy before are included in this British Museum exhibition which continues until Sunday 29th September 2013, bringing to life the daily routine of the Romans who were caught out by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Related events include ‘Up Late in Pompeii’, a special late-night event on Friday 10th May 2013 which will allow visitors to have a night out in the Bay of Naples complete with Roman food and forum debates.
One of two blockbuster exhibitions currently at the British Museum, equally as intriguing as Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum is Ice Age Art which brings together sculptures, figurines and engravings made in Europe from 40,000 to 10,000 years ago, placing ancient masterpieces alongside modern works of art. The exhibition includes fascinating stone, bone and ivory sculptures and continues until Sunday 26th May 2013.
Added to these are smaller, free exhibitions including In Search of Classical Greece, on display at the British Museum’s Print Room until Sunday 28th April 2013, and Bubbles and Bankruptcy Financial Crises in Britain Since 1700 which continues until Sunday 5th May 2013.
To the north of the British Museum, the British Library hosts a major summer exhibition ‘Propaganda: Power and Persuasion’ which begins on Friday 17th May and continues all summer long until Tuesday 17th September 2013. Among more than 200 exhibits on display are propaganda leaflets dropped on occupied territories during WWII, Nazi propaganda, posters, films, cartoons and everyday objects including bank notes and badges.
Related events include a talk by Alastair Campbell on Friday 17th May, a late-night party on Friday 7th June 2013 with music by DJs Alexis, Al and Felix (Hot Chip), a debate on ‘The Art and Business of Persuasion’ between advertising legend Trevor Beattie and PR guru Mark Borkowski on Monday 1st July, and an appearance by former US Presidential candidate Mike Dukakis on Tuesday 6th August.
The British Library’s ongoing ‘Murder in the Library: An A-Z of Crime Fiction’ exhibition, which ends on Sunday 12th May 2013, indulges our addiction to detective stories and includes the original manuscript of the Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Retired Colourman’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
As part of Britten 100, the London-based festival celebrating the centenary of the great composer, The British Library presents Poetry in Sound: The Music of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) a free exhibition in The Folio Society Gallery, from Friday 31st May to Sunday 15th September 2013 exploring the poetic and literary influences on Britten’s work.
Just seven minutes’ walk from the British Library, The Wellcome Collection remains open to the public throughout the GBP17.5m building project which begins this summer, due to be completed in summer 2014. Improvements include creating 30 per cent more gallery space and doubling the capacity for public events as well as adding a new restaurant.
In the meantime, the Wellcome Collection’s spring/summer exhibition of Japanese Outsider Art, Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan, continues until 30th June 2013, showing more than 300 works in a huge diversity of mediums by 46 Japanese artists.
Insects are celebrated in the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Who’s the Pest’ series of events in April and May including an Insects Au Gratin Installation (Tuesday 23rd April 2013 to Sunday 5th May 2013) and a debate on ‘Who is more of a pest?’, humans or insects?
At the Bloomsbury Theatre comedy is a strong suit and this summer is no exception. Highlights include two nights hosted by Robin Ince, best known for presenting the BBC radio show The Infinite Monkey Cage with physicist Brian Cox, on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May, and Stand Up for Women starring Michael McIntyre and hosted by comedian James Mullinger on Monday 13th May.
In May, Olivier award-winning choreographer and director Peter Schaufuss comes to the Bloomsbury Theatre for the first time with his Hamlet inspired dance drama (15th to 24th May). And June brings the inaugural London Student Drama Festival on Wednesday 19th June, drawing on the theatrical talent at four well respected London universities (UCL, King’s, SOAS, LSE).
One of the more quirky events but still very much a part of spending summer in Bloomsbury, The Chap Olympiad is a celebration of buffoonery and sporting ineptitude. While dates and details of this year’s event are yet to be confirmed it typically takes place in the summer in Bedford Square Gardens, Bloomsbury.
Looking beyond summer to autumn, the Bloomsbury Festival takes place from 15th to 20th October 2013 offering an innovative arts, community and cultural programme at venues across Bloomsbury.
If you’re planning to visit London this summer keep track of all the latest events with LondonTown.com where the latest information on all major London museums, theatres, art galleries and festivals is provided.
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