MUSEUM TOURS

I am an established, friendly and informative guide with over 20 years of experience of guiding for heritage institutions and independently.  You can sometimes spot me guiding at the National Trust property, 2 Willow Road; the V&A; London Transport Museum’s Hidden London programme and the Roman Billingsgate Bathhouse in the City of London. 

I also specialise in intercultural / faith tours that can be booked for interest or for faith / community awareness training and engagement.

Museum tours I offer vary from 1- 2 hours and can be tailored for different requirements.

Private tours cost £150 per group of up to 20 people.

 

Other than the museum tours listed, I can also arrange visits to Hampstead Museum, Burgh House; 2 Willow Road, Hampstead and the Isokon Gallery, Belsize Park.

See my calendar for public museum tour bookings >

THE VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM

FAITH & INTERCULTURAL TOURS

World Religions and Symbols of Light 

Over the centuries many religions have celebrated the significance of light, often for similar reasons, whether practical or metaphysical. Within the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum there are many examples of lamps and candleholders made for religious purposes, as well as religious objects and images that are intended to convey light, both literally and spiritually.

Picture: Mosque Lamps, Egypt or Syria, 14th Century, Gilded and enamelled glass. In the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, photo © Marilyn Greene

Faith and the Senses

Discover how our senses and spirit are engaged in rituals in world religions such as within processions, washing before prayer, lighting candles, drinking and eating symbolic foods or simply meditating and stimulating the mind. On this global tour we will visit the European, Sacred Silver and Stained Glass, Medieval and Renaissance, Islamic and Asian galleries.

Picture: Siva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance Tamil Nadu, India, 12th century  Copper Alloy cast by the lost wax process. In the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, photo © Marilyn Greene

The Art of Burial

Since prehistoric times, humankind has been united by its practices associated with the rituals and practices around what happens to a body after death. This tour looks at both items which are now seen as art found within tombs and discusses the imagery and representations on tombs, monuments and reliquaries to the dead. We will discuss the practices associated China, India, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The tour also includes a couple of amazing archaeological discoveries of tomb monuments from the London area.

Picture: The Becket Casket,  Limoges, France ca.1180-1190 . In the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, photo © Marilyn Greene

The Judaica Collection at the V&A

The first items of Judaica were bought for the Museum of Manufacturers before the establishment of the South Kensington Museum in 1857,and several items were bought before the establishment of any Jewish Museums in the world.  The V&A pioneered collecting Jewish art, but the collection is not representative of the Jewish Religion as a whole as the objects were collected not for their cultural value, but because they were well designed or interestingly decorated. The museum now also displays examples of contemporary Judaica.

Picture: Torah Mantle, Amsterdam, Holland,1675  

Silk velvet and brocaded silk, embroidered and trimmed with various metal threads. In the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, photo © Marilyn Greene

Three faiths Tour
(Jewish Christian and Islamic)

This tour looks at examples of objects relating to the “Abrahamic” faiths who all view the God of Abraham in the Old Testament as the only true God whether named Yahweh, God the Father or Allah.  They are also sometimes referred to as the “People of the Book” as they all claim that their sacred texts are the word of God either directly or through God’s mediators. All faiths originated in the Middle East – either in Israel or Arabia (now Saudi Arabia); all faiths are based upon their sacred texts and view Jerusalem as an important centre for their faith. The tour looks at objects on the themes of sacred texts, ritual, light, festivals and design.

Fountain Basin Hama, Syria. In the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, photo © Marilyn Greene

Asian faiths tour
(Hindu, Jain and Buddhist)

Concentrating on faiths that originated in the Indian sub-continent we discover the differences between Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism through their art, sculptural depictions and stories. See how the faiths compare and contrast and learn to recognise iconography specific to one or several faiths. We will also discuss the processions, pilgrimages and rituals associated with these religions as well as the significance of the younger Sikh religion.

Shakyamuni Buddha figure, China 1740-1786, Cast and gilded copper with painted hair. In the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, photo © Marilyn Greene

Treasures from the War Booty

A number of significant cultural items in the V&A came in to the collections in Victorian times and as a result of war or disputes. The V&A does not hide this fact and this tour gives up the chance to discuss in more detail their stories. Objects include Tippoo's Tiger the mechanical organ depicting a tiger mauling a British soldier from Mysore, India taken from Tippoo Sultan’s palace after the Siege of Seringapatam in 1799; the Golden Throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh from Lahore taken by the British East India Company at their annexation of the Punjab in 1849; and the crown and chalice taken during siege of Maqdala in Ethiopia in 1868.

Tippoo's Tiger, Mechanical Organ, Mysore, India ca.1793. Painted wood with metal fixtures © Victoria and Albert Museum

Cultural Highlights Tour

This tour takes us on a highlights journey around the V&A galleries and  around the world taking in culturally significant objects and objects associated with stories and legends from Britain, Europe Asia and Africa.

Picture: The Bed of Ware, by Hans Vredeman de Vries, Britain 1590-1600   Oak, carved and originally painted, with panels of marquetry, Victoria and Albert Museum   

OTHER VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM TOURS

The Constable Collection at the V&A

The V&A has one of the most extensive collections of the art work of John Constable. Works by him were amongst the first donations by John Sheepshanks to the newly opened South Kensington Museum in 1857 intended to form a National Gallery of British art. Then, in 1888, Constable’s last surviving daughter, Isabel Constable donated some 390 landscape sketches to the museum from his family collection and later bequeathed three paintings to the museum. This tour will look at a selection of sketches and final academic art works by Constable and explain how they reveal his personality.

Picture: Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishops ground by John Constable. Oil painting, 1823.  Given by John Sheepshanks,1857.© Victoria and Albert Museum               

British Landscapes in the V&A
The V&A has a significant collection of nineteenth-century landscape painting which gives a sense of changing attitudes to the land and landscapes at the time in a period which saw much agricultural unrest.  In this tour we can compare painting by Turner and Constable and their near contemporaries as well as look at some of the artists who influenced them. We conclude by considering how photography took on the role of recording the romantic vision of the British landscape in the latter half of the century.

Picture: View across Sandown Bay, Isle of Wight by Richard Burchett. Oil on canvas, 1850. © Victoria and Albert Museum               

 

The Cult of Ruins in the 18th century

During the eighteenth century it was common for gentlemen from the upper echelons of society to further their education by taking the Grand Tour to Europe where their adventures often culminated in Rome.  Here they could be acquainted with the grand ruins from a former mighty civilisation. It was also a time of the great archaeological discoveries such as of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Soon the influence of the artistic discoveries there filtered their way back into British design.  Art and literature expounded the sublime nature of ruins and ruin themed pictures and decorative art became all the rage. With the advent of the Napoleonic Wars, people turned inward and started romanticising and depicting the ruins of castles and abbeys nearer to home.

Ludlow Castle, Shropshire  by William Hodges  Oil on canvas, 1778 © Victoria and Albert Museum                                                 

Henry Cole and bringing taste to the people

Discover the origins of the South Kensington Museum and learn about its founder, Henry Cole and his desire to bring taste to the people. Henry Cole knew how to market the museum.  It had the first ever museum restaurant and was one of the first buildings in London to have electricity and open late so that people could come after work. The building and galleries were beautifully designed and he had the Government School of Art (now the Royal College of Art) moved to the South Kensington site. As well as admiring the decorative schemes of the building and galleries we will also look at examples of objects which Henry Cole believed to show principles of good or bad taste.

Memorial to Henry Cole on the Ceramic Staircase, Victoria and Albert Museum, © Marilyn Greene

© 2018 Marilyn Greene