Best thing to do for free to get your cultural fix? Museums duh. I love going to museums. Art museums, cultural museums, fashion exhibits. Pretty much anything if I can stare at it or touch it or both…if the guards would let me. When I was little I was always on the museum guards’ black list because I would try to touch all the art work! Immersing myself in the Titan reds, the golden wavy hair of Botticelli’s girls, and the lush velvet that 16th century painters always seem to do on point. I could stare at them all day.
I stumbled onto The National Gallery (near Trafalgar square, free admission) when I was mindlessly walking through central London playing the quintessential Lost Tourist to perfection. It was a warm welcome (literally) from the ice cold winds to the ornate gilded frames and baroque moldings on the walls. It beat sitting in a Starbucks like a hobo.
My favorite pieces from the National Gallery below. Unfortunately I didn’t get to go through the whole exhibit forcing me to literally run (maybe not run but definitely power walk) through the many halls of paintings and Mona Lisa smiles.
Another amazing gallery (free but donations are welcome and much deserved) is the Black Archives Gallery in Brixton. A great exhibit showcasing British black style, Black periodicals, newspapers and magazines, emergence of black beauty, art, fashion and music, and activism for civil rights, women and British immigration.
All of the pictures, artifacts, posters, and printed media were donated by the people who lived through these hardships and documented this side of British history.
It was great and eye opening seeing the mix of British style through the 50’s to 90’s. My favorite being the 60’s. Mixing African and Caribbean roots to punk, Bob Marley, skinny suits and 70’s flair. A small niche in British fashion history which gave way to a larger portion of iconic British styles such as punk and skin heads (which derived from rude boys).
It showed me how rich history really is from global events such as civil rights movement to local triumphs such as the first black british beauty patents and neighborhood celebrities like Pinky. From the big to small they all had its place in time and had a purpose to people’s lives.