305 Summer task: Power

“Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.””                
(Michel Foucault)

Choosing a museum was the hardest part of this task, I have spent many an afternoon trawling around London and visiting all the museums from the prolific Imperial War museum to the lesser known medical mystery museum. My favourite, that I have been to repeatedly despite the fact its attractions hardly change is The London Dungeons. Even as you queue outside, actors come out dressed as characters from history to entice you. I have spoken to a judge of traitors gate and have smelled the burning flesh of Bloody Mary.

I love this museum as it brings history to life, the way it is set out is you walk through each exhibition and they make you feel like you’re in that era. For instance they, like many other museums, have a section based on Jack the Ripper. I have read a lot on him and thought I knew everything but nothing could prepare me for walking down the alleyways and hoping that I was not Jacks next victim. The only thing I think needs to change is that the London Dungeons only tells the horrific parts of history and I don’t think you get a full picture. Sure it brings history to life, but sometimes you want to sit and read all the facts.

The museum has almost become a part of me as I have grown up, with an interest in horrible histories as a child, I believed that the only importance in historical events is the gruesome details. Obviously, as I have aged, this is changing and I’m realising that no element of history is ever ‘simple’, whenever I go to the dungeons I feel as if I am learning all over again. There is so much to learn that it is impossible to do it all in one day.
Also, I feel the museum represents my creative side. Explaining history to my next door neighbour I try hard to keep them interested. Being animated and explaining the gruesome details makes them interested for all of five minutes so the Dungeon gives me brilliant ideas.

Advertising itself as a ‘horror’ museum, I think the dungeon has put a limit on how far its attractions can go. Sure there have been some horrendous acts in history that can keep them in business for at least another 10 years, but what then? And it can not use news as features, an exhibition on horrors in the news would just be distasteful. Going into the museum with this task in mind, I found myself looking at it slightly differently, many of the ‘historical’ horrors are based around myths such as Sweeney Todd, and Bloody Mary. These people may well have existed but the stories surrounding them have been corrupted over the years through the various translations meaning we never truly know the facts.


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