The Wallace Collection was somewhat of a surprise to me. I expected a small house museum, but in actuality, it has 25 galleries with a collection strong in 18th century paintings, furniture, and porcelain, as well an impressive armour collection. I was excited to see that there was an entire gallery dedicated to conservation! The Ritblat Conservation Gallery is the first pertinent gallery dedicated to conservation in a National Museum in the UK. It highlighted conservation work going on within the collection. Also, there were displays illustrating the manufacture of the decorative techniques seen throughout the museum, such as Boulle marquetry and wood veneer.
I made a trip to the Leighton House Museum, which belonged to the Victorian artist Frederic Leighton. The showpiece of the house is an Arab Hall that showcases Leighton’s collection of Islamic tiles. I also saw maquettes of Leighton’s “An Athlete Wrestling with a Python,” which is currently on view at Tate Britain, and “the Sluggard,” which is currently in the lab.
Greenwich was a true test to my tourist stamina. In one day, I went to the markets, the Painted Hall and Chapel at the Old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House, and the Royal Observatory (with the Prime Meridian). I also went home past the Cutty Sark clipper ship that is currently undergoing conservation and walked through a dark, damp, and somewhat spooky tunnel under the Thames. My feet hurt just reflecting upon the day.