museum in snow cropped

The Museum of Marco Polo keeps it Light

It’s one of those deep, dark, mid-winter mornings and outside the damp London darkness has acquired a hushed and metaphysical feel.  Which may be why it is that I am leaning up against the radiator to keep warm, and dreaming of an alternative universe in which I am the Director of a major museum and putting on a blockbuster show on the subject of Light.

So ‘Light’ (as my daydream goes) will run from December to February every year (special rates for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder) and will tell the story, half a million years old, of how human beings have carved light out of the darkness and used it and played with it.

Artefacts on show will include –

Neolithic lamps, made from oil poured into oyster shells;  Roman glass;  beeswax candles;  medieval spectacles; magic lantern slides and shadow puppets;  Victorian gas lamps;  miners’ lamps;  moonlight and starlight;  a Turner painting that flaunts his beautiful effects with light; a portable sundial from the middle ages;  Bronze Age treasures gleaming in the darkness; bonfires, lightning flashes, shadows and shooting stars, the Northern Lights and the Burning Man.

There will be soft light; glittery light; light refracted through ice and shafting down from the heavens;  light practical and playful, serious and metaphysical; and – because what is light without darkness? – there will also be a section on Dark Matter, the great, dark, apparently empty spaces of the universe (at which point the show will become a Museum of Nothingness – now that’s going to be tricky to pull off).

And all adding up to a glorious, mid-winter, light-in-the-darkness moment.

Happy Xmas.  We are back in January with pieces on miniature worlds and our annual ‘looking into the tea leaves’ moment, when we predict the year to come for museums and look back to see how accurate our previous predictions have been.  Don’t miss it.