Back in October (I think), David Mentiply mentioned he was organizing a Museum Marathon to raise funds for Guide Dogs. I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went but soon after, I booked my tickets for December 7th to take part.
Yesterday, I woke up at 5 am to catch the early train to London full of energy. Ok perhaps not quite that much energy but I was definitely excited. After dropping bags off to Lovely Laura (who I can’t thank enough for meeting me), I rushed to our meeting point: V&A.
When I arrived (slightly late), they were just doing a group photo. I was handed a Guide Dog mask and told to smile.
The day was pretty much going to continue on like that – I was surrounded by people who were prepared with paperwork and maps – scary stuff! My role as a follower was clearly labelled (and I was quite content in this role!). I was also going to try and Tweet as much as possible to share (and hopefully guilt a few into sending a donation!).
1) V&A, and went quickly to
and 3) Science Museum.
4) We followed on to Churchill War Rooms
At this time, we were going to try and step foot in each of the museums along the way. However, when we got to 5) Household Cavalry Museum, this soon stopped (as it wasn’t an option!).
6) Then to Benjamin Franklin House. When we rang the doorbell, they knew who we were (that was quite nice to hear!)
8) Library and Museum of Freemasonry – we weren’t allowed in as it was shut but I was told how gorgeous it was inside.
8a) Cartoon Museum *wasn’t on list but it was there
9) British Museum where we stopped for much need cake made by David’s mom and girlfriend – THANK YOU!
10) Brunel Gallery, SOAS
11) Grant Museum – only a quick wave to the Jar of Moles.
12) Wellcome Collection – I went in and looked at the steps. Decided to take a picture of them rather than tackle them.
13) British Library – we were suppose to have lunch here. However, some people wanted to keep moving (as we were afraid if we stopped we wouldn’t start again). The group got a little divided at this point but not for long!
14) Foundling Museum – a hidden gem that I was first introduced to with Pop Up Festival in 2011.
15) Charles Dickens Museum – they were very supportive when we came in to get the twitter id. Got talking and the group almost left without me!
16) Sir John Soane’s Museum – the front of house were very supportive and explained we were raising money for charity when someone in the queue assumed we were going in the wrong way.
18) Courtauld Gallery – A minor confession, I only realized this was also called Somerset house when I saw the big SKATE sign hanging up.
19) Museum of London – the group that stopped at the British Library managed to catch up with up again. We were told to mention ourselves when we arrived as they arranged Mince Pies for us! We had a group photo together (I haven’t seen it yet).
From Museum of London:
21) Bank of England – might have just been me, but was a pretty depressing building. (Reminds me a bit like the scene from Mary Poppins).
22) 19 Princelet Street aka Museum of Immigration and Diversity – the absolute STAR of the marathon. As we were approaching the street, many in the group were talking about 19 Princelet Street and what a hidden gem it is. There were stories of standing in the freezing cold during London’s Open House to get a glimpse inside. As we turned the corner and approached the house, a lovely man appeared in the door way (a bit like the Wizard of Oz). He asked if we were from Museum Marathon and said he was waiting for us!
Not only did he have beautiful snacks for us, he also had much needed glasses of water! I don’t think he realized how important his kind offer was – we were ALL flagging, tired, hurting, very low on energy (when I say ALL I mean me but sure I wasn’t alone). He totally re-lit our spark! Not only did he provide us snacks and drinks, but he opened the door
‘Its shabby front doors are rarely open to the public: beyond are secrets and suitcases, poems and potatoes, threads of history linking to today’s debates over migration, minorities and multiculturalism.’
I was incredibly humbled and honoured that he opened the door to us on our plight to raise funds for Guide Dogs.
23) Tower of London – How can you not love the Tower? I will admit that I was very slow at this point and only saw the walk over the bridge looming at this point. But there is nothing like seeing the huge Tower of London to bring a smile to your face.
24) Design Museum – as much as I LOVE the Design Museum (and I really do), the cobble stones leading up to the museum were a bit too much for me. However, one thing that I adore about the Design Museum is how brilliantly they use the space outside. Many in our group decided to take a lot of pictures (can’t blame them!) but I was really running on low so decided to find HMS Belfast on my way (hey, it is on the river, it can’t be that hard right?). Luckily someone from the group came with me. Unluckily for me, it was a student who apparently wasn’t tired AT ALL and it was everything to keep up with him.
25) HMS Belfast – Gorgeous evening to see HMS Belfast. I was lucky enough to go on Belfast before so after a quick wave and picture, we made our way to our next and final stop …
26) Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – Sweet Jesus we made it! Seeing the Globe was like seeing the Holy Grail – only with more power.
We were soon followed by others from the group – all of us totally elated and proud to have completed this journey together. It was soon time for the Pub!
As I was tweeting throughout the day, I was getting into discussions about equality for blind people with museums and art galleries. I also had a lively discussion related to whether National Portrait Gallery was a museum or not (which also lead back to if a Jaffa cake was a biscuit or cake – biscuit, just leave it at that).
While David Mentiply’s original goal was to raise money for (and hopefully put a spotlight on) the Guide Dogs, I truly believe this turned into something bigger along the way. A big well done to David and everyone who took mark, including the museums!
As exhausted and in pain as I am, I’m already excitingly looking for to Museum Marathon II. And this time, I’m wearing sneakers!