diamond geezer

 Saturday, May 22, 2010

Whoever came up with this idea deserves a round of applause. And also a simultaneous slap in the face.
CultureLine is a group of 10 museums and galleries which can be found along the length of the London Overground East London extension, which opens officially on Sunday 23 May 2010. The CultureLine has created a corridor of exciting destinations that will be a real draw for visitors, and which offers huge scope for many diverse itineraries that will appeal to a wide range of people.
What a great way to brand together some of east and south London's lesser known museums and galleries to bring them to the attention of the wider public and boost visitor numbers. But what a shameless attempt to promote certain institutions which are actually nowhere near the East London line at all.

Here's my report on the ten - almost all of which I've visited. Are they worth going to? Or are the curators pushing their luck?

Hackney Museum (Dalston Junction station??): CultureLine kicks off with an impostor. It's a full mile from Dalston Junction to Hackney Museum, which is actually located hugely closer to Hackney Central (obviously). A room under the main library houses various displays about the London Borough of Hackney - with a slight nod towards tales of immigration, but also a walk-in pie and mash shop tucked away at the back. A bit council, a bit worthy, but not bad. [I've been]

Geffrye Museum (Hoxton station): Probably the London museum I visit most often, with its delightful collection of historical interiors. A string of almshouses containing period rooms, plus an ever-changing domestic exhibition in the modern extension at the end. It's so close to Hoxton station that you can peer down into the ornamental garden from the northbound platform. Alas, no entrance from the station side yet. [I've been]

Wesley's Chapel (Shoreditch High Street station??): No no no, the nearest station to Wesley's Chapel is most definitely Old Street. Take the Overground and it's a none-too obvious backstreet trek to this City-side place of worship, which houses the UK's Museum of Methodism in the crypt. A bit niche, a bit low-key, but endearingly different. [I've been]

The Royal London Museum (Whitechapel station): My local hospital's museum tells a stirring story stretching back more than 250 years. It's very small, so don't expect to linger long. And it's only open Tuesday to Friday, 10am-4:30pm. But at least it's near the station. [I've been]

Whitechapel Gallery (Whitechapel station??): Absolutely not. The Whitechapel gallery is very firmly attached to Aldgate East station. It's a fine and cutting edge gallery though... most of the time, apart from last time I went, which must have been between exhibitions because almost everything was closed except the cafe. But people of South London, do come. [I've been]

The Women's Library (Whitechapel station??): Whoever compiled this list clearly failed in Geography. The Women's Library is actually closer to Shoreditch High Street than to Whitechapel station (which isn't that close at all). This is the only one of the listed ten that I haven't visited. How depressingly male of me.

Brunel Museum (Rotherhithe station): The East London line runs through the oldest under-river tunnel in the world - an engineering first celebrated in Brunel's old engine house. Without their bravery and foresight, the people of Penge would never be able to ride to Hoxton as from tomorrow. Marc and Isambard, we salute you. [I've been]

[There then follow five consecutive stations with no nearby museums at all, so don't get off]

Horniman Museum (Forest Hill station): Ah, the eclectic Horniman, home to preserved beasties, musical instruments and ethnic treasures. Home too to a rather dinky new aquarium, and a very badly stuffed walrus. The surrounding gardens are lovely, and there are fine views from the hilltop across London. And all this less than half a mile from the station. Citizens of North London, you're in for a real treat. [I've been]

Crystal Palace Museum (Crystal Palace station): It took me three attempts before I found this place open. But I enjoyed my brisk look round a room of Palatial mementoes, and learnt plenty about all the entertainments this site used to support. Come visit at a weekend and lend the willing volunteers your support, then hang around and enjoy the park afterwards. [I've been]

Museum of Croydon (West Croydon station): This remains the only London museum I've ever been kicked out of. There weren't enough staff to keep the rest of the Clocktower complex running, apparently, which suggests this modern backroom isn't the council's top priority. Don't come all the way down to Zone 5 specially. [I've been]

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