Monday, July 27, 2009

Musings from the Museum - Part I

"All I want for my birthday," said my newly-octogenarianized mother-in-law, "is to go see the British Museum's 'Treasures' exhibit in Victoria.

"That's it??", we all queried, incredulously.

"That it.", she replied.

Wow. What a gal.

I, for one, was baffled by the simplicity of it all. I am quite sure that when I turn 80, I will expect accordians, banjoes, crates of the finest champagne, and burly waiters in leopard-skin Speedoes feeding me flax rolls ,chocolate-covered strawberries and Lorazepam.

Is that just me?

Last summer, it was The Baron and I gallavanting around Europe, hitting all the hotspots in France, Belgium, Germany, and partying with the blondes in Luxembourg.

I was able to be your decent docent in my two-part post (I here and II here) "Lessons from the Louvre".

This summer, just like everyone else, we are scaling back.

Our museum sojourn is a mere 1.5 hour ferry ride away from home. This is the only blonde we are currently partying with:

(...and between you and me, I do not think the carpet matches the drapes. Poser.)

But just because we're closer to home does not mean that there are not great discoveries to be had/mocked/intelligently (?) commented on.

I will have you know, though, that the British Museum (who loaned out the exhibition) is indeed both hoity AND toity. With liberal does of high-falutin' thrown in for good measure.

Whereas I could snap my craptacular photoessay to my heart's content in The Louvre, these puckerbutts will not allow photography. Guards break into a cold sweat if you so much as take your cell phone out.

Something about stealing the souls of the statues. Gah. They're statues, people.

So, in order to enhance my sparkling commentary, I have had to sequester some photos from the World Wide Interwebs that I feel are down to my level. Some are better; for that I apologize.

So not me.

Are you ready for some culturalisin'? Splendid. Let us goeth.

Before you even enter the hush hush inner sanctum, you are met by this guy at the ticket counter:

I'm sure he's a totem of some import, but it's interesting to me that he's absolutely perfect for setting the tone. Like maybe he's not so old after all. Like maybe there's some sort of undercover factory churning these out, custom-ordered.

He's pointing - YOU! Over there. Throw your bottled water away, take the SIM card out of your phone, pack up your camera.

He's gladhanding - YOU! In line. Wallet out. Exact change appreciated.

Once we run through the ticket line gauntlet, it's on to the full-body cavity search by some British ponce with bad teeth and an attitude.

Phew! We're through.

First section of the exhibit - Egypt.

While I'm furiously scribbling down notes, I can hear my husband and his sister kibbitzing back and forth:

Sister-in-Law: Did you see that sarcophogas?

Husband: It must have been for a small child. It's pretty short.

Sister-In-Law: I think you should be able to fit in it, no problem. Let's try.

Husband: Oh, look. It's the Rosetta Stone. Look here, Sissy - there's the part about your first date.

All I could think of with the Rosetta Stone:
was the potential infighting amongst the three scribes who engraved it in Heiroglyphics, Demotic and Greek.

"Did you see the sh*t work that Stavros did? My three-year-old could write better."

"What about that guy Anwar? Pictures. That's it. Pictures. And they don't make a lick of sense. Eyeball, bird, dancer, eyeball. What the hell is THAT supposed to spell? Loser."

As for the coffin that my husband thankfully did not try to lie down in (officially referred to as "The Inner Coffin of Djeho"), what caught my eye was the description below:
"The images and texts below Djeho's large collar are associated with protecting dead men in the afterlife".
Yeah, protecting.

Like from Mr. Blackwell maybe. Because large collars? So gauche. So passe. So Babylonian.

We cruise through the Africa exhibit, and on to the Middle East.

Here's where the treasure trove (of insolence) really begins. First off, The Ossuary:
Not to be confused with this:

The Estuary

Or this:
The Cassowary

I get so easily confused.

This ossuary is a container that houses a loved one's bones, kind of like a creepy hope chest. "Here's the Royal Albert, Granny's Irish linen and wait a minute - is that a thorax? Or a tibia?" I am told that it was important to keep these things around.

And my husband calls me a hoarder. Sheesh.

The next piece is a bronze figure of Harpokrates:

His name was originally Oprahkrates, but a mixup at the birth certificate office led to his official moniker.

Oops. Fate can be cruel.

I was charmed by the finger on his chin.

"Hmm. Now where did I leave those feet?", or "Hmm. I'm thinking I might have to find a new hairdresser. Side ponytail? Really?"

Then there is the set of Arabic bowls from Central Asia, circa 10 AD "The use of sayings was a popular form of decoration for pottery at this time."

Like "Finish your congee - there's people starving in North America", or "My Husband went to Hunan and all I got was this Lousy Bowl."

Last but not least for today, may I present to you, direct from 13-14th century AD Egypt:

The Astrolabe.

This wondrous device, as well as being distractingly shiny, was a hard-working piece of technological wonder that served many functions. According to sources, "In the medieval Islamic world, it was used primarily for astronomical studies, as well as in other areas as diverse as astrology, geography, navigation, Qibla, Salah prayers, surveying, and timekeeping."

I think they left out union mediation, julienning of root vegetables, and electrolysis.

And that if you ordered one within 30 minutes of advertisement, a free set of ginzu knives were included with purchase.

Tomorrow, we will conclude our Museum Musings whilst meandering through Greek Civilization, Oceania, The Americas, and last but not least, The Modern Era.

Until then, Rising Sun, Rising Sun, Slug, ZigZag, as we used to say in the 'hood.


Cormac Brown said...


Great(X 20)grandfather of the Marx Brothers.

Grandma J said...

I never understood the no camera rule in museums. The Getty in Malibu has the same rule. Then again, when my grandson was four, he knocked over a bay of lit votive candles in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris....while his grandmother was taking pictures of Joan of Arc's relics.

♥~♥ Nine Acres ♥~♥ said...

Oh my God. I think I just peed my pants. I do believe you are the funniest person on earth. And I missed meeting you in person by one day. Damn it.

Mental P Mama said...

::snort:: I hope your in laws appreciate your humor;)

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

One time I severely damaged my sarcophogas during a severe coughing bout with the flu.

My astrolabe remains intact because I never pierced my ears.

Estuary! Finally a word I recognize. I'm oh so estuary and really need a good night's sleep.

baronessvonb said...

Count Cormac: Not to be confused with Grouchostotle.

Countess Grandma: Well, if they're going to allow picture-taking, there should be someone looking after the kids while you're busy. What on earth do they pay these 'guards' FOR, anyways? Gah.

Countess T: Peeing. Spitting. Snorting. Maybe not meeting me was a good thing for you. It could have been messy.

Countess MPM: I've finally gotten over caring what my inlaws think. That only took 23 years.

Countess CBW: Might I entice you to have a nice nap in this comfy ossuary? To help your estuary. Just don't mind the cassowary.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I want to go with you next time!

Daryl said...

Why are those Brits so uppity, who wants pix of their tatty old esophoguy anyways

Grace said...

"kind of like a creepy hope chest" .... that just cracked me up!

baronessvonb said...

Countess NNG: Well alright, but we'll have to be careful. Apparently having fun is not allowed.

Countess Daryl: I DO!!

Countess Grace: It's all I could think of - can you imagine hauling around one of those every damn time you move? Right up there with pianos and china cabinets.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Did I tell you when I saw the actual Rosetta stone in London that I got teary-eyed? Yeah. Big dork here.

baronessvonb said...

Countess NATUI: Was it the bad penmenship that got to you?

It can do that to some.

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