Mellow Mummy: Fire! Fire! at the Museum of London : Taking life as it comes...

Friday, 19 August 2016

Fire! Fire! at the Museum of London

Yesterday I took a day off work for a fabulous day out in London with Lara. It was a fun adventure exploring the fascinating world of the City of London complete with #BFGDreamJars , sightseeing, lunch with a city bigwig and a trip to the special Fire! Fire! exhibition at the Museum of London.

We started our journey with a tube to London Bridge; we walked across the bridge with wonderful views of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the old ports of London. Then we took a look at The Monument - a dramatic tower with a golden top built to remember the devastation of the Great Fire of London in 1666 and located at the edge of Pudding Lane, the place where the historic fire originally broke out.

Next, we wound our way through the streets of the City of London, past the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange to St. Pauls cathedral and up toward the original city walls where you'll find The Museum of London; a free family museum with exhibits to chart the rise of London from prehistoric times, right up to the present.

We had come to take a look at the special exhibition - Fire! Fire! which is on display at the Museum of London until April 2017. Fire! Fire! is an interactive exhibition suitable for families which details the events leading up to the Great Fire of London, how the fire unfolded, and how London was rebuilt afterwards.  It was particularly interesting for Lara who had learned about the fire earlier this summer as part of the KS1 curriculum and I believe it also features in KS2.

The learning opportunities at the museum were endless and yet Lara found it fun, engaging and inspiring - she whizzed from exhibit to exhibit with frantic enthusiasm, taking it all in. From the moment you step into the exhibition you are transported back in time as you walk through a dark, narrow corridor with overhanging wooden buildings, shadow puppets behind the windows setting the scene. You're taken through the bakery in which the fire started and you can read about the different reasons why the fire took hold. Next, a giant loaf of bread on which you can see the map of the city and how the fire burned through the streets.

We enjoyed the main hall where the sounds and smells of the city really set the scene. In this room there were lots interactive displays here - the chance to try and pack all of your belongings into one heavy wooden trunk, microscopes and magnifying glasses to see the effects of fire, up close, dressing up clothes to allow you to dress as a 17th century Londoner or even a fireman, and a touch-screen game where you could fight the fires yourself.  In a darkened room with flickering flames and orange lights it was all very atmospheric.  I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged Lara was with the detail of the museum - she found the time and patience to read the plaques and listen to audio descriptions of accounts written at the time and seemed genuinely fascinated to find out how it is we know so much about something that happened 350 years ago.

In the final area of the exhibition we learned about the politics surrounding the rebuild of London after the fire, and the blame game that followed.  Lara was less interested here (other than the chance to use building blocks to rebuild the city in her own design).  I don't think it was until a couple of hours later, as we walked around St. Pauls Cathedral (about a 5 minute walk from the museum) that she really understood the rebuild effort, and the extent to which London has changed since the fire.

I thought that Fire! Fire! was a great exhibition and we both enjoyed it - we spent about an hour in the exhibition and could have spent many, many more hours in the rest of the museum galleries.

The Fire! Fire! exhibition at the Museum of London is open until April 2017 with off-peak children's tickets from £4 and adults from £8. The museum itself is free to enter and explore.  Lara also particularly enjoyed learning about Roman London (Londinium) and how the Romans lived and settled on the banks where the city then emerged.
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