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Friday December 09, 2022

Museum of London packs up 46 years after Queen Elizabeth opened it

Despite the challenge, the museum decided to move to a more visitor-friendly location.

By AFP
November 20, 2022
Museum of London packs up 46 years after Queen Elizabeth opened it
Museum of London packs up 46 years after Queen Elizabeth opened it

London: King Charles I´s execution vest and 20,000 human remains are among the objects that need to be packed up as the Museum of London makes a daunting £250 million ($260 million) move.

The museum tells the story of one of the world´s great cities through more than six million artefacts -- the largest urban history collection in the world.

But it has long been hampered by its location, tucked away among the glass towers of London´s ever-expanding financial centre, The City.

When the building was unveiled in 1976, The Times newspaper reported that "Her Majesty, the Queen is opening the Museum of London today, if she can find the entrance".

"We´ve been struggling with that," admitted the museum´s director of content, Finbarr Whooley.

The museum is preparing to move to a giant disused market building in the capital´s "cultural mile", with the formidable three-year task of relocating the items set to begin on December 5.

"When you think about moving your own house, you think about packing up and moving and the stress of that. You just take this and put it on steroids," Whooley told AFP.

"Some of those objects will be tiny, some of them will be monumental, literally.

"But they will all need to be individually packed, individually numbered, recorded, and then moved very carefully. We are approaching it with military precision."

- Visitor boost -

Some of the items are so large that they were built into the current building, on a roundabout near St Paul´s Cathedral and the Brutalist towers of the Barbican Estate.

At the other end of the scale are delicate objects, including the stained vest reputed to have been worn by Charles I when he was beheaded in 1649.

The 20,000 skeletal remains of historic Londoners will also need to be transported with care.

"We as an organisation have to be incredibly respectful of the fact that these are all people who are Londoners," said Whooley.

Despite the challenge, the museum decided to move to a more visitor-friendly location.