Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Museum-Go-Round

For our final day in Edinburgh, Mom and I visited a cluster of museums near where we were staying. The first was the Museum of Edinburgh, and featured an impressive collection of silver. Across the street was a museum that focused on the lives of ordinary working-class people through the centuries. Called "The People's Story," it showed what their families and living conditions were like, what they did for leisure, and what kind of jobs they had. It was fascinating to know that as late as 1968 there were families of 10 living in a single room. At that time the city had public washing facilities where people could do their laundry, these facilities had these large racks that you could hang your clothes on and then push into a super heated cabinet that would dry out the clothes in about 20 minutes.

From there we visited the crazy modern Scottish Parliament. We were able to go inside the assembly room, and noticed that the back walls are decorated with silhouettes of whisky bottles! Another really interesting feature of the building are the stepped window bays that stick out from each member's office. Each bay has an upholstered bench, and windows that open, and was designed to be a place for private peaceful contemplation for the members.

We wanted to tour the Palace of the Holyroodhouse, but it was closed for a government function. We were able to tour the Queen's Gallery in the gatehouse, though, and took in an exhibition of informal paintings of various Kings and Queens of England. My favorite one was by Landseer, of a young Queen Victoria going out riding with some of her ministers. She was very young when she came to the throne, and I think many people these days forget how glamorous she was.

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