diamond geezer

 Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Collins Guide To Roses (cover amended by Orton)Borough museums: There are 33 London boroughs. Some of these have their own museum devoted to telling the story of the borough's local history. And some of these museums are quite good. Alas, I can't say the same for the latest addition to the list - the Islington Museum. It opened earlier this month in a basement beneath Finsbury Library, up a very ordinary street you'd never visit by accident. No expense has been spared on a shiny new lift and access ramp down from the pavement, but alas not enough appears to have been spent on making the interior interesting. The museum looks a bit like a conference centre foyer filled with display boards... text-rich and artefact-lite. The permanent display is divided up into nine categories (fashion, childhood, sport, etc), although the selected information rarely makes the borough sound terribly special. A lot of the stuff on show (wartime memories, handbells, old medicines) could have come from anywhere - it's not especially Islington. Even the purchase of local historical souvenirs is currently impossible ["we are not yet able to process your purchases here"]. But there was one display case which made my visit worthwhile. Playwright Joe Orton spent his formative years defacing book covers in Islington Library, and earned 6 months in jail for his trouble. Four of these vandalised masterpieces are now in pride of place in the Lesbian, Gay and Transgendered section of the museum [photo][photo][photo]. Hypocritical of the council, maybe, but belatedly appropriate, and the only (current) reason that I'd recommend a visit. Still, at least Islington actually has a museum, which is a lot more than can be said for some...

London's borough-funded borough-themed museums
Barking and Dagenham: Valence House Museum [Becontree RM8 3HT] (closed for refurbishment until May 2010)
Barnet: Church Farmhouse Museum [Hendon NW4 4JR] (closed Fri)
Bexley: Hall Place [Bexley DA5 1PQ] (closed for restoration until late summer 2008)
Brent: Brent Museum [Willesden NW10 2SF] (opened last year) <thumbs up>
Bromley: Bromley Museum [Orpington BR6 0HH] (closed Sun)
Camden City
Croydon: Museum of Croydon [Croydon CR9 1ET] (closed Sun)
Ealing/Hounslow: Gunnersbury Park Museum [Acton W3 8LQ] <thumbs up>
Enfield: Forty Hall [Acton EN2 9HA] (closed Mon, Tue) (new museum opens 2009) <thumbs up>
Greenwich: Greenwich Heritage Centre [Woolwich SE18 4DX] (closed Sun, Mon)
Hackney: Hackney Museum [Hackney E8 1GQ] (closed Sun, Mon) <thumbs up>
Hammersmith & Fulham:
Haringey: Bruce Castle Museum [Tottenham N17 8NU] (closed Mon, Tue) <thumbs up>
Harrow: Harrow Museum [Headstone HA2 6PX] (closed Tue)
Havering (museum proposed within the Old Brewery, Romford)
Islington: Islington Museum [Finsbury EC1V 4NB] (closed Sun, Wed)
Kensington & Chelsea
Kingston: Kingston Museum [Kingston KT1 2PS ] (closed Sun, Wed)
Lambeth Lewisham Merton Newham
Redbridge: Redbridge Museum [Ilford IG1 1EA] (closed Sun, Mon) <thumbs up>
Southwark: Cuming Museum [Walworth SE17 1RY] (closed Sun, Mon)
Sutton: Honeywood [Carshalton SM5 3NX] (closed Mon, Tue)
Tower Hamlets
Waltham Forest: Vestry House Museum [Walthamstow E17 9NH] (closed Mon, Tue, Wed)
Wandsworth (closed last year, may reopen privately)

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