Musings of a Museum Fanatic: May 2017

5.31.2017

Museum of London


When we decided to visit London I knew there were several museums on my must visit list. One that actually wasn't on my original list was the Museum of London. I'm not sure why but there were others before it but I ended up calling a hail Mary and we thought it would be a fun one to visit while we were in the City of London.


I was bummed out that we missed an exhibit about the Great Fire of London by just a few days but they had this fun mural up outside of the museum still.



The Museum of London walks you through London history from before it was even anything to the present day. Won't lie we did skip over the pre-history section pretty quickly, it's not my thing and to me it tends to look the same no matter where in the world it is.


One thing I always always always look for in a really good museum is their interactives. A good museum will engage it's guests with hands on learning. Usually people think of these as only for kids but I love taking time in whatever museum I'm in and playing with all of the interactives. The Museum of London did this really well. You can see the find the object clue boards above but there were a number of other great interactives.


Getting to see parts of the original wall that surrounded London was really cool. I wish we could have gotten an up close look but at least we were able to see it.







I was surprised at how many larger more architectural pieces that were on exhibit.




How ridiculous is that dress?! I cannot imagine wearing something like that. It's like something that you see on a cartoon!



There were also several large immersive areas that were a lot of fun. I think my favorite was the Pleasure Garden. These were a really common type of recreation during 1700 and 1800s London, probably the most famous being Vauxhall Gardens. With life size dress forms they walked you through all the different characters one might meet at these somewhat scandalous pleasure gardens. Some of the costumes were reproductions but there were originals. The most ridiculous was the ship hat. That hat is why I wish hats were still a huge thing here haha.





Kevin really enjoyed the immersive. The bartenders were terrible though, he was ready to hop over and pour himself a drink. The museum professional in me had a momentary freak out when he started fake jump over the bar.








When you got to the more modern day exhibit galleries they walked you through the history by showcasing the fashion. There were other objects but the clothing and shoes were exhibited to really be the main focus.

My work friend Pam, who's been to London a number of times, kept saying how I had to make sure to see the Beatles dress. While I like the shape of it I'm not sure I'd want to wear their faces across the dress like that! I loved seeing the really new styles, like the Dr. Martens! Glad to see I'm old enough that stuff I've worn is in a museum.



This was just a small teeny tiny slice of all the centuries of history that the Museum of London shares. While some museums on my must visit list were kicked off I'm glad we added this one. It's a must visit.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

5.29.2017

History Happy Hour with Medici Museum & Chicago History Museum

Last week I was invited to attend the first History Happy Hour which was put on by the Chicago History Museum (CHM) and Medici Museums. While the Chicago History Museum is a familiar face in the Chicago museum scene Medici Museums is a new face. Medici Museums is a new tech company that is working on releasing an app for a one stop shop for museum ticketing. While the app is still in beta testing Medici is working with museums in the Chicago area on fun special events. 


The first of these events is the History Happy Hour with the Chicago History Museum. These monthly events will feature rotating beverage company sponsors. Koval was the partner this first month. 




Koval is a Chicago distillery that produces whiskies, liqueurs and other spirits. This was definitely a good pairing for the first event, it looked like a lot of people were really enjoying the tasting. In addition to the tasting your ticket also included a craft beer.



While the happy hour part and the socializing are all well and good, let's be honest I was super excited for the flash tours. Lauren and I were able to go on two of the tours, I wish there had been more time to go on the other two we really wanted to go on the Playboy one.



The first tour we went on was led by Russell Lewis, the Executive Vice President and Chief Historian at CHM. We knew that would be an amazing tour and we were right. Russell took us to two of his favorite areas in the permanent exhibit, the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition and the 1933 Century of Progress World's Fair. While both Lauren and I knew some of what he shared it was great to hear those details that you know only someone who has been working with this collection and Chicago history their entire career knows. I think I could have listened to him talk on those subjects all day. 



Our next tour was a ton of fun, it was a choose your own adventure tour with Marne Bariso, Volunteer and Intern Manager. First off she had us vote on a photo that interested us the most, as any good Chicagoan I voted early and often. The we picked the first initial of someone's first name and a color.



Marne took us around and showed us artifacts that were in the photo and that started with an "S". My suggestion was something that was the color blue. Which brought us to the Chicago flag!


This flash tour was so much fun! We had a blast. The entire happy hour event was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to joining Medici and Chicago History Museum again this summer for their other events. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!




Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

5.26.2017

Food During our London Trip

I was really excited to research restaurants for our London trip. In the end I'm pretty sure I showed Kevin dozens of options and his mind was spinning. I worked really hard to make sure we didn't end up going to any places that were only meh and in the end we really enjoyed every meal we had. If you want to see more about our Afternoon Tea Bus Tour check out my post from Monday. 


While they didn't originate in the UK the freakshake has definitely been making a big impression so our first night we had dinner at Maxwell's Bar & Grill in Covent Garden. We topped off our first meal with a Mars bar freakshake. It was divine.


One thing I wanted to do this trip was to get in a little more shopping at some of those famous department stores. Fortnum and Mason was heavenly. It was like stepping back in time. One felt very proper and fancy shopping there. Kevin and I went a little gaga over their candy counters. You just felt luxurious picking your treat from the piled high trays. I will say we got a carrot marzipan from the below photo ... still not a fan of marzipan.



While Kevin really didn't have many things he for sure wanted to see and do during our trip there was one must on his list. That was enjoying a Guinness beer and other London beers. From what I understand the Guinness that we get in the States is a somewhat sub par to what you can get in Europe. He very much enjoyed his drink.


My favorite TV shows are pretty much any cooking show, there really aren't many I don't enjoy. Kevin and I really enjoy watching Hell's Kitchen and Gordon Ramsay together. While I know he has restaurants all over the world there's just something about making sure you get to one of his restaurants in his home country (well sort of home, he was born in Scotland). After I scoured the menus multiple times I decided on Heddon Street Kitchen, that had the best looking menu plus the added bonus of free prosecco because of our visitor Oyster passes was pretty awesome.


We ended up ordering an appetizer randomly and were so glad we did! The little fried gnocchi balls were filled with creamy sausage with just a little kick. They were pretty delicious. 


Kevin went with the fish and I enjoyed the burger with triple fried chips. If you've ever eaten out with us those meals are usually reversed but I was so glad I got the burger it might have been the best burger I've ever had. Ridiculously good.



They even surprised us with a little anniversary treat. Supposedly it was an apple cinnamon type cake but I'm not sure about that. Looking at the menu I think it was the sticky toffee pudding. We were so stuffed before this came but it was so good there was definitely an empty plate.


We also thought we saw Ramsay at Heddon Street Kitchen. Doesn't he look like him?! It was our main topic of conversation for most of the meal. 



Like sometimes when I'm on the L you're always able to find random things and clearly the Tube was no different. No we did not eat the bananas. 




Kevin was so excited to visit one of the oldest pubs in London Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which was rebuilt in it's current form after the Great Fire in 1667 but there has been a pub on this spot since 1538. It was such a neat pub, the cellar was definitely the coolest part. In the photo below that little nook on the left is where we sat! Kevin definitely almost fell off twice.  






Our tour guide on our Stonehenge tour said Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was a fun place to visit and there was one thing we HAD to do. They put a grate over the front step because centuries of wear and what not but we had to put our feet below the grate. We had to walk where so many great people had stepped, like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Alfred Tennyson to name just a few.


Yup we splurged on another freak shake. There were three whole Reese's peanut butter cups on the top of it and an entire piece of Oreo cheese cake. Ridiculously good.



When in London one must purchase tea. I'm pretty sure it's a law or the Queen will say off with their heads! We hoofed it to the Twinings store, which is actually pronounced not at all how we thought it would be.


Kevin got really into trying several different kinds. He ended up purchasing a very robust strong bitter tea. I was not a fan. I went with my favorite, Earl Grey plus there was one that smelled exactly like a chocolate bar. We haven't tried it yet but if it tastes half a good as it smells it's going to be wonderful.




In all my crazy research I found a few articles about the best desserts in London. Unfortunately so many of them were in Zone 2 or a little further out but there was one that was right in Covent Garden. Yolkin is a pop up dessert shop that pops on the weekends specializing in macaron ice cream sandwiches. I won't like macarons are not my favorite cookie, I know some people adore them I think they're alright.

Holy cow this ice cream sandwich was amazing. We took a 12 pound cab ride to get to the pop up before it close and it was SO worth it. The ice cream was amazing, the cookie melted in your mouth. If we had more cash we probably would have bought another. The one of the left is a macadamia nut and the right is red velvet.



One food I tried during this trip that I hadn't on my last visit was mushy peas. I tried them two different times, the above image was at a pub by Harrods. The is a large chain that owns tons of pubs and has the same food menu. I liked these peas a lot, the ones I had with my meal at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese were too watery for my taste.

Kevin and I split the pub sampler platter. For the two of us it was perfect, we both love to get a little taste of everything especially when trying new foods.



After our lovely drinks at the Sky Garden we wandered around the area attempting to find a restaurant and came across a tapas place. We were slightly worried since it was 5:30 and just us in the place but the food was delicious. There are at least three really great tapas places in the Chicago area and I would say this place was just as good.



The food during our trip was awesome. There wasn't a meal that we had that we wouldn't repeat. Even on days we had to hustle and eat on the tour bus the sandwichs we purchased from the local grocery store were delicious. London definitely lives up to it's reputation as a first class food city.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!