On Friday 28 May 2010 the Museum of London
unveiled the Galleries of Modern London, a spectacular £20 million redevelopment of the Museums galleries, which will tell the story of London and its inhabitants from the Great Fire of London in 1666 to the present day. Supported by an £11.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the new galleries provide an inspiring vision of the worlds greatest city, and place the Museum at the heart of London ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
On display are over 7,000 fascinating objects telling the stories of Londoners over the past 350 years. Ann Fanshawes extravagant 1750s court dress will make visitors wonder how its wearer was able to walk through a door with its two metre-wide skirt. A reconstructed Georgian pleasure garden, with its parade of exquisitely dressed strollers modelling specially-commissioned hats and masks by Philip Treacy, will expose the excitement and intrigue of Georgian social lives. But hardship was just a turn of fortune away, as the Wellclose debtors prison, etched with inmates graffiti, shows.
Moving into the twentieth century, the stunning Art Deco lift from Selfridges department store is evidence of the opulence of the new century. The flurry of political campaigns and voices of protest is exposed in stories of the suffragettes fighting for womens votes, and of the emerging communist and fascist groups as the nation moved closer to war. The refugee trunk belonging to the Seelig family, who escaped to London from Dresden in 1939, tells the story of those forced to move to the city in hard circumstances.
From the citys more recent history, visitors can learn about an increasingly multi-cultural post-war London, and the swinging sixties with the new era of fashion and design that the decade welcomed in. The Ghetto, an artwork by Tom Hunter, reveals the harsh realities of London life as it uncovers a Hackney street of the 1990s populated with squatters.
The Museum will offer new items on display as well as old favourites; the famous sparkling Lord Mayors State Coach will have its own gallery with street level windows for passers-by to see in for the first time.
Professor Jack Lohman, Director of the Museum of London, said: The new Galleries of Modern London breathe new life into the Museum, bringing together over 7,000 objects from vehicles, costume, jewellery and paintings. They provide a home for the story of London celebrating the unique spirit and energy of the city ahead of the 2012 Olympics. It is thrilling to see this ambitious and complex project realised at last, transforming the Museum and placing it at the heart of the city it celebrates."