Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 25 -Blythe House

Day 28

Today we took a bus ride out to the Blythe House.  This is where a rather large collection of children's books are held.  Blythe House was built around 1900, originally as a post office and bank.  The building was eventually handed to three museums.  This place is used for study or reserved collections.

Alexia, the Art and Design archivist showed us a few interesting items.  Her department collects British and British based designers.  Most of the collections are from the 20th and 21st centuries.  They have all kinds of leaflets and flyers and some objects.  Most of the collection was gifts.  We viewed a sampling of the Lucile Duff Gordon collection.  She is a designer that went from designing her own clothes to designing for others.  She is considered an early developer of the catwalk show.

We also got to view some exhibition catalogs for the Ideal Home.  There was even a photograph album from 1956 of the House of the Future.  This showed what they believed houses would be like in the 1980s.

Francis described the children's literature to us and showed us some of the Beatrix Potter collection.  The children's literature collection is housed here almost in its entirety.  There are 100,000 books.  The Beatrix Potter Archives is the largest archive in the world. The main collection was put together by Leslie Linder. Leslie Linder was the man who deciphered Potter's journals she left behind after her death.

We got to view a 1901 printed copy, an 1876 sketchbook, and some family photos.  Beatrix Potter loved nature and drew lots of flora and fauna.  She also loved creating her own drawings from other stories.  She did her ideas of Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella.

That is all for now...

July 24 - Middle Temple Library

Day 27

Today we visited the Middle Temple Library.  This is a law library that is a part of the four Inns of Court.  The other three are Inner Temple, Lincoln's Temple, and Gray's Temple.  The current building opened in 1958.  The building is made of reinforced concrete and the architect Sir Edward Maufe actually built in offices for the librarians.  Maufe didn't want his buildings to be destroyed by enemy action.  The previous library building was completely destroyed during WW2.  Each of the three floors houses various collections.
Middle Temple library was founded in 1641 when Robert Ashley left his book collection to the library.  Today the collection holds about 250,000 texts, reports, journals, and papers.  One of the items on display are these two large globes.  These are the Molyneux Globes.  There is the Terrestrial Globe and the Celestial Globe.  They date back to 1592.  They were the largest printed globes in the world to that date as well as the most geographically correct.  This is the only known pair and the first to be made in England by an Englishman.

Part 2 - BFI Reuben Library

I spent a few hours in the afternoon visiting the Reuben Library at the BFI (British Film Institute).  I was working on research for my paper.  While relatively small, they hold a lot of material.  I was searching for Doctor Who related materials for my research project.  They had 289 records of scripts, documents, and other ephemera.  Articles and stills were many more than that.

I spoke briefly with a librarian who works in special collections.  I asked how they go about preserving the items.  They clean them and most items are stored at 8-10 degrees Celcius in acid free boxes.  Everything is climate controlled.

I was unable to view actual scripts as everything is stored off site.  All viewings must be requested and appointments made.  I was told it would take 2-3 weeks before I could view any items.

That is all for now...

July 23 - British Library Center for Conservation and more...

Day 26

Today we went to the conservation center at the British Library.  There is a team of 6 who work on conserving the items that come through the center.  They hold about 150 million items.  They have to constantly estimate and create bids on how many hours it will take to do the restoration or conservation of the item in hand.  Each team member works with different departments. There is a dialog that is built between the conservators and the curators of the items in hand.

We got to view a 1649 dictionary that was getting a new spine.  To conserve this, the old leather is pulled up, new leather is put down, and then the original is laid back over.  They try to keep it as original as possible when working with these old books. All the items they work with need to be in a working order since they are a part of a reference library.

We also got to see how gold finishing was done.  We got to see the differences between gold leaf and gold foil.  Leaf is much more delicate and time consuming to use.  Gold leaf is used on leather while gold foil is used on cloth.  

Part 2 - Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour

This evening was a total blast!  The studio tour is amazing!  I had so much fun.  SPOILER ALERT!  If you do not want to know about my experience and the tour, do not read any further.

When you enter the the experience you feel like you are in a movie theater.  We start off in a room and watch a video talking about how it all came into being and.  Then we go into this room like a movie theater.  We watch a short video clip where Emma, Rupert, and Daniel talk about their experience and then they walk through the door.  The screen rises to reveal the door they had just walked through.  This takes us into the Great Hall of Hogwarts.  There was so much to see. Each of the house tables were set up and costumes for each house.  The head table had all the teachers costumes and plaques with info about each actor that played that character.  From the Great Hall we moved into this huge room filled with various props and costumes and sets.  

I saw some beautiful sets from the potions classroom to the Gryffindor common room and the boys dorm.  There was also Hagrid's hut, Dumbledore's office, Professor Umbridge's office, many more costumes and so many things to see. After wandering through stage J, you step outside to find another world.  I got a Butterbeer and took photos of the Knight Bus, Hagrid's motorbike, the Weasley's Ford Anglia, Privet Drive, Potter Cottage, and the most amazing bridge ever.  There were even giant chess pieces from the giant chess scene in the first movie.  This was a nice place to chill for a bit on such a nice evening.

I continued on to stage K.  Here we delved into the movie magic that was make-up, hair, and even creature development.  The creature rooms were insane.  I loved Buckbeak.  Aragog was a bit frightening though.  Then there was Diagon Alley with all the shops.  This even included Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.  Continuing on we got to see drafts and sketches of artwork as the films were being created.  It amazes me the time and detail that go into some of these pieces.  After weaving your way through some of this artwork, you turn a corner and spill out into the most incredible and amazing site ever.... a scale model of Hogwarts Castle.  In it's entirety.  I almost cried it was so incredibly beautiful.  They had lighting scheme set up that flowed through the day as the sun rose and the sun set.  I couldn't stop staring.  Then after soaking in the castle, you get dumped into the huge shop.  There were clothes and wands and even lots of candy.  Totally worth the trip out!

That is all for now...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 22 - Hill of Tara and Newgrange

This day was the absolute best!  I finally got to see some of the beautiful Irish coutryside.  Hill of Tara had some amazing views.  I even got close to some grazing sheep.  This is one of those posts where I have to let the pics speak for themselves.

The same for Newgrange.  This tomb pre-dates Stonehenge and the Pyramids.  There are 3 main tombs, Knowth, Douth, and Newgrange.  Newgrange is fully excavated, Knowth is partially excavated, and no one is allowed into Douth.  There are even some smaller tomb mounds that have been discovered nearby.  There are many speculations and theories as to what the swirls and engravings on the entrance stone mean.  Some believe it could be a map of the area, others believe something different.  Whatever the beliefs, there is no way to prove one over the other.  When you enter, you walk through this very narrow path that is about 19 meters long.  It opens up into the main chamber.  There are three recesses off the main chamber where it is believed various rituals were done.  The ceiling has a very carefully laid out stones that create the dome effect and then the capstone keeps it very dry.  No moisture has been in that chamber for thousands of years.  We got to also see a recreation of what it would be like in the chamber on the winter solstice when the sun shines through the entrance and lights up the chamber.  It only happens from 8:58 - 9:17 am.  It is very brief but truly quite amazing.