Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Photo #9: Cheeky Monkey

Click image to view larger size…

One of the first places I visited on my return to London in March 2008 (after an absence of over 30 years), was London’s Natural History Museum in Kensington.

Originating from collections within the British Museum, the landmark Alfred Waterhouse building was built and opened by 1881. The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, and include specimens collected by Charles Darwin.

The foundation of the collection was that of the Ulster doctor Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). Sloane's collection, which included dried plants, and animal and human skeletons, was initially housed in Montague House in Bloomsbury in 1756, which was the home of the British Museum.

Walking through the building taking in the many displays, my attention was captured by the sight of hundreds of carved monkeys climbing the internal walls and support structures of this magnificent building. Like the gargoyles which were the subject of a previous Friday Photo (Friday Photo #4: London Gargoyle), these monkeys and other decorations represent an age when workmanship and beauty were greatly prized and appreciated.

There is much to see and appreciate in the Natural History Museum, and not all of it is behind glass cases. The next time you visit this building, take the time to look around and see how many of these cheeky monkeys adorn the main entry hall, and marvel at the skilful hands that created these objects of delight and splendor.

Note: visible in the photograph are at least 18 similar monkeys on the curved column on the far wall to the left of the monkey shown here in close-up. Presumably someone knows the exact number of monkeys

Visit the Natural History Museum here…

Photograph: Cheeky Monkey, by Jim Lesses

Location: Natural History Museum, London, England

With thanks to Wikipedia for the background information on the Museum

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