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Dinosaurs, Star Wars, Severed Heads, a Dalek and Sherlock Holmes!
London Film Museum (London)
Member Name: karenuk
London Film Museum (London)
Advantages: Interesting, educational, well - organised, good toilet facilities, good value
Disadvantages: Some parts could be more interesting .
It is a relatively new museum, having been opened by Jonathan Sands in 2008. It is situated on the first floor of the County Hall, which is on the Southbank, so is easy to find. It is right near the London Eye and across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament. It costs £12 for adults and £10 for concessions and is open from 10am to 5pm in the week, 10am to 6pm on weekends.
The museum was ideal for the Fan Fest event, as there were two large rooms they used for the signing sessions and a lot of space for the dealers to set out tables of books and memorabilia in the corridors. The Question and Answer sessions were held in the Debating Chamber, which used to be the home of the Greater London Council and it is a beautiful room with high-backed chairs and a wonderful atmosphere.
The museum itself is quite spread out and it seems that every time you turn a corner, you find another corridor with some display there or an entrance into another room. There are toilets dotted around too and these were clean on both days.
There are many models around the corridors including one I liked of Marilyn Monroe in the famous Seven Year Itch dress scene. There are also Star Wars characters, transport, chairs from films and scary statues. I took some photos of these, but was unclear how much photography was permitted. I only saw one 'No Photography' sign, but this appeared to be just in one corridor. Anyway, plenty of people saw me use my camera in various parts of the museum and no-one told me off!
There is an interesting permanent exhibition in the museum called Charlie Chaplin - The Great Londoner, which has a life-size statue of the familiar figure at the beginning of it. There are cabinets of original documents, a video of some of his films and many interesting items. The rooms are well designed with plenty of space to walk around too.
I was especially interested in seeing Chaplin's autograph (being an autograph collector myself) and the display cabinet of dolls and little Chaplin figures from several decades. My husband enjoyed watching some original film footage, as it was the first time we had heard Chaplin's voice!
I also loved the video footage provided by the Chaplin family. It was amazing to see him as an old man, playing with his grandchildren and walking through gardens. He looked so different from the iconic image of Chaplin in black and white with his bowler hat and little moustache!
There are a lot of original props and costumes from films dotted around the museum. These include Little Nellie (the Gyrocopter used in James Bond), a TARDIS and a Dalek from Doctor Who, monsters from the Alien films and my favourite was a full-size dinosaur (Rexy) from A Night at the Museum 2, which I stood near for a photo - only to find that it moves and roars, so watch out for that!
Along the corridors are various boards with photos and information. These range from the rather boring (biographies of famous actors like Kate Winslet) to the more interesting history of British film studios - Bray, Pinewood, Ealing and so on. These were relevant to me, as I love British films and I enjoyed seeing the videos of the films in each display. (I think I had seen all the Hammer films they were showing on the Bray Studios film!)
There are rooms dedicated to Thunderbirds (including some of the models used), Star Wars and Sherlock Holmes amongst others. I had a look at all these and thought the Sherlock Holmes room was beautifully done, as part of it is like a film set or the stage of a play and I enjoyed seeing all the details used.
Along another corridor, there are themed rooms featuring different genres such as comedy, war, horror, musicals and so on. Each one has costumes, props and figures relating to each genre. I was pleased to find the costume worn by Kenneth Williams in Carry On Don't Lose Your Head in a glass case in one of these rooms.
The horror room is rated 15 and is definitely not suitable for little ones. The items in here include a very realistic severed head, a decomposing mummy and a chimpanzee being operated on.
There are various exhibitions which have a brief stay at the museum. The one there when we went was a visiting exhibit of the Clash of the Titans. This featured five original costumes from the recent film release and was there for six weeks. These rotating exhibitions mean you are almost certain to see something different each time you go.
While we were there, they announced that an exhibition of Ray Harryhausen's work is coming up in June, to celebrate Harryhausen's 90th birthday. We were lucky enough to hear him talk and to see some of the models he used in such iconic films as Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad films and the original Clash of the Titans. I got to meet him and get his autograph too. I hope to be able to return to see the exhibition.
I liked the educational aspect of the museum too, with various activities aimed at children. (There was a Spy School taking place during Fan Fest.) The museum's official website even has downloads of Charlie Chaplin worksheets for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 and offers group discounts for schools. (Sadly, the end of their 'education' section on the website concludes with this sentence - "Shoul teachesr require the ansers sheets please contact us on..." [sic]. Oh dear!
On the ground floor of the building, there is a nice café called the Zen Café, which sells sandwiches, wraps, paninis, cake, crisps and so on for reasonable prices (though not cheap). Their coffees are very good too! If you want something more substantial, there is a Chinese place next door and if you fancy something a bit sweeter, just outside are ice cream vendors and over-priced waffles (£6.20 for a waffle with strawberries and cream on!!!).
Transport links are good with the museum being in such a central location. We got the Tube in and it was just a few minutes walk round the corner from the Waterloo station.
Overall, I would definitely recommend a visit to the London Film Museum if you are a movie fan. You could easily spend a couple of hours here and I think it is worth the entrance fee.
If you want to read my review of the Fan Fest convention and see the photos of who I met, check out my blog -
More information on the London Film Museum and a video tour is available on the website -
Summary: An interesting musem in London for film fans.
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