diamond geezer

 Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Evolution of a blogpost

I wonder how much a cup of tea costs in a museum?
I could visit a few and find out.
Nipping round the big free London museums, that'd be interesting.

Ooh, two of the big museums have up-to-date menus available online.
Maybe I could do this from home.

Natural History Museum£3.00
Science Museum£2.80

Both of these are for a "selection of tea", i.e. English Breakfast, Earl Grey, peppermint or whatever.
We already have a 20p discrepancy.

While I'm doing this I should check coffee prices too, people like coffee.
I'll pick a latte as representative of the cost of a coffee.
And throw in a can of Coke.

Natural History Museum£3.00£3.35£2.45
Science Museum£2.80£3.25£2.35

Prices are close but not identical, despite these being neighbouring buildings.

The other museums I'm actually going to have to go and investigate.

First the Museum of London.
No I did not "pre-book a free general admission ticket" before I arrived, it's early on a Tuesday morning, it's not 2021 any more. What is the point, especially if you're just going to let me in anyway?

Ooh there are two new mini-exhibitions, one on Harry Kane and one on the evolution of grime in East London. I enjoyed the latter, especially the cab ride video where past protégés drive round E3 and adjacent manors reflecting on how everywhere important's been wiped away.

OK let's check the cafe, which I see is a smug Benugo franchise.

Museum of London         £2.70£3.15£2.30

These prices are still very much ballpark.

Next to the British Museum.
Sheesh, look at the queue. It stretches all along the front wall and then inside to the security pavilion and it's not moving very fast and quite frankly I cannot be bothered. It wasn't so long ago you could just walk in, even when it was busy, but now you have to be properly committed and today I am not.

The British Museum does have prices online for its Great Court restaurant but I suspect these are on the inflated side.

British Museum              3.953.23.2

"A selection of loose-leaf tea" and listing prices to one decimal place, ooh get you.

Ever onward.

National Gallery£3.00£3.25£2.50
Tate Modern£2.60£3.20£2.00
Imperial War Museum     £2.35£3.20£2.60

I love how you can walk into the National Gallery and see all those really famous paintings right up close.
Actual Sunflowers, actual Fighting Temeraire, actual Bathers at Asnières.
Thankfully no activists are despoiling The Hay Wain today.
The 'Espresso Bar' is a muted space not much more appealing than a Pret.

Tate Modern always feels half-wasted during the long months when the Turbine Hall is empty.
The videos on show in the Tanks are almost as dull as the roomful of rolled-up carpets.
That's the cheapest can of Coke we've seen yet.

The IWM has the cheapest tea so far.
They only do bottles of Coke, not cans.

And while I'm here, I see the Second World War Galleries are new, I should go round those. They're big and completely revamped, telling the story of the war on a much more global scale than previously. The underlying themes of instability, megalomania and catastrophe resonate today. Try not to go round at the same time as a school party leaning on displays while filling in worksheets, it diminishes the experience somewhat.

Also completely revamped and reopened last November are the Holocaust Galleries. They're more visual than before but still packed with much to read and be appalled by. Kicking off with a room celebrating ordinary Jewish life in Thirties Europe is a masterstroke. The build-up to the Final Solution takes longer than before, packing several punches. The wall of shoes is gone, and the horrific mechanics of the concentration camps are peculiarly located in an unsigned sideroom it's all too easy to miss or bypass. The very last exhibit before the exit doors is a tiepin, and that blindsided me.

I really ought to hike over to the V&A at this point, for completeness' sake, but I have spent too long at the IWM.

So it's probably about time for a hot drinks conclusion.

Natural History Museum£3.00£3.35£2.45
Science Museum£2.80£3.25£2.35
Museum of London£2.70£3.15£2.30
National Gallery£3.00£3.25£2.50
Tate Modern£2.60£3.20£2.00
Imperial War Museum£2.35£3.20£2.60

The price of museum lattes is remarkably consistent. It's also almost exactly what Starbucks charges, I checked in the branch opposite Tate Modern.

The charge for a cup of tea is a lot more variable. That's rich when essentially it's a teabag dunked in hot water requiring virtually no skill whatsoever. A nice bit of china might merit a higher charge than a paper cup.

Conclusion: A coffee is a coffee. Tea is all in the theatre.

Oh and I could always head home via the Museum of Docklands.

Museum of Docklands    £2.20£2.80£1.80

Blimey, that's noticeably cheaper on all fronts. The cafe feels homelier too - less of a bland corporate concession - and attracts a clientele a world apart from the financial types filling up the fancier refreshment options around the rest of the docks.

But no I'm not stopping for a cuppa, thanks.
I can have one at home for pennies, not pounds, plus I know exactly how long to leave the bag in and how much milk to add.
Best not visit a museum solely for its cafe.

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