The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The First Emperor: Initial Thoughts

So, yesterday, I finally made it to the First Emperor exhibition at the British Museum. Here are my initial thoughts (I will probably write a more complete review in a few days when I've had a chance to 'digest' my visit):

* Many people are woefully ignorant of exhibition-visiting etiquette - I'm all for subverting the built-in directional 'flow' in larger, or less crowded, exhibition spaces, but where people have paid a great deal of money to see something really special in a limited time frame, pushing-in and hogging cases while having inane conversations about totally unrelated business, or trying to impress one's friends with pseudo-intellectual musings on the subject is a great annoyance.

* Audio-guides are the Devil's work. People wearing them go into a kind of trance state wherein they pick their noses, stand on other's feet and barge past without apologising (or even being aware that they've just knocked you flying) and other such anti-social, aimless behaviour.

* Why do certain types of men, of a certain age, have to belittle the experience? 'Well', they say, when stood in front of a 2,500 year old finely modeled terracotta warrior, 'I'm quite disappointed'. What exactly did you expect? The massed ranks of the terracotta army, rivers of mercury and Qin Shi Huangdi himself as your personal exhibition guide?! *she fumes*

Having said all that...

* The standing 'warriors' are brilliantly displayed in the round, and despite the crush of bodies it really is possible to get a really good 360 degree look at them all.

* And, it's well worth a visit - just to stand at the top of the central exhibition area and look across at generals, infantry, charioteers, archers and their horses face-to-face, something only dignitaries get to do at the archaeological site in Xi'an.

* It's a totally cynically commercial addition to the menu, but the Chinese Afternoon Tea (exorbitantly priced at £14 per person) served in the Great Court restaurant, is FAB!

More thoughts to follow...

2 comments:

Ceri said...

I had a tremendous chuckle reading your comments Amy as these are the very socially conditioned visitors who museums are trying to diversify, the so-called 'educated' elite. But then maybe the draw of the warriors has let in a more 'common' crowd? Anyway I only jest, it sounds like it is still worth a visit even if the BM are milking it for all its worth and limiting the time available... but then I spent only 30 minutes in the Millais exhibition at the Tate Britian and still felt I saw everything, there is no need to stand and stare at everything in detail, makes my eyes go funny anyway....

Amy said...

I don't know if they were regular museum goers or not, but there was a definite sense that a lot of people were acting out a role - how they thought they were meant to behave. And then others were rushing about like kids in a sweet shop. And the two approaches don't mix! Glad it gave you a chuckle anyway. :)

Which reminds me...I'm supposed to be writing a proper review of the exhibition. Hmmm...