The Museums of Kensington
Our first point of call in London was the Natural History Museum. The students were awed by the impressive grandeur of the museum’s exterior architecture, and from the excited discussions taking place as we queued it was clear that everybody was really looking forward to investigating the treasures hidden within. Once inside the museum, the dinosaur exhibition was particularly popular (inspiring our dinosaur-themed group photo!), with students enjoying the robotic tyrannosaurus rex and commenting on how incredible it was that so many dinosaur fossils had been preserved for many millions of years. The volcano exhibition was also keenly investigated, while the iconic full skeleton of a blue whale in the “mammals” section led to a certain amount of jaw-dropping among students and staff alike. All in all, everyone really enjoyed the museum, with the only negative feedback being disappointment that the group couldn’t have even longer to explore before heading to our next stop.
On arriving at the Victoria and Albert Museum, often considered the world’s leading museum of arts and design heritage, students were impressed at the marble facade and imposing staircases hidden behind the red brick exterior. The Pink Floyd temporary exhibition proved exceptionally popular with much of the group, offering an in depth look into the band’s long running career and the opportunity to view memorabilia and original props up close. Similarly the second floor balcony, home to a large blown glass installation, was a favoured spot for selfies and Instagram pictures! Much of the ground floor captivated the interest of international students, as it focuses on world culture, art and design, and so they found they were able to experience a slice of their home country in the midst of a very British city, and explore links and influences between the two. The V&As garden courtyard provided a shaded outdoor space in which to eat lunch or have a snack, with many of our students choosing to relax and enjoy the sunshine before it vanished.
Our final stop for the day was a short visit to the Science Museum. As soon as we arrived you could sense the excitement as the students discovered the full range of simulators and interactive experiences on offer, from the 3D Red Arrows to the robot exhibition. The NASA exhibit was a particular highlight and our British students enjoyed telling all the other students about Tim Peake, the first British European Space Agency astronaut, and learning about the capsule he used to travel to the International Space Station, which was on display.
After an exhausting day touring three museums the students were more than ready for some dinner. To round of the day we headed to Hyde Park for a truly British picnic complete with strawberries and cream, scones, sausage rolls and biscuits. One of the students, in true British fashion and the words of Roald Dahl, described the picnic as “scrumdiddlyumptious”. It was a lovely way to spend the evening relaxing taking photos and playing games in the park.
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Students enjoyed London's museums: Natural History Museum's dinosaur exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum's Pink Floyd display, and Science Museum's simulators. The day ended with a British picnic in Hyde Park.