I managed to squeeze in a second Nice Day Out last week, hurrah!
After skipping a few weeks here and there due to deadlines & illness (plus fun stuff like attending my sister's wedding) I am determined to try and catch up on my Nice Days Out so I get one get-out-of-the-house-and-go-somewhere-interesting day off per week, even if I don't get one each and every calendar week.
On Monday I spent a lovely day touring some of London's free galleries & museums with a friend (and yakking so much my voice was all croaky on Tuesday!)... and then on Friday I felt like looking at some more art so I decided to make use of my Art Pass and go to some exhibitions.
I started at Trafalgar Square...
... and went to the National Portrait Gallery to see Elizabeth I & Her People (half price, thanks to my Art Pass). I love the Tudor portraits in the National Portrait Gallery (and 16th Century portraiture in general) so a whole exhibition of Elizabethan portraits = right up my street.
As well as the portraits, there were some cabinets containing things like books, jewellery, and gloves from the period plus some pieces like a comb and a gun that were very similar to items shown in some of the pictures, which was very interesting. I really enjoyed this exhibition but that was I think just because I love the art of this period more than because there were any really stand-out pictures / displays that really captured my imagination.
Then I went to Facing the Modern: the portrait in Vienna 1900 at the National Gallery (also half price thanks to the magic of the Art Pass, hurrah!) ... which included some very different portraits to the Elizabethan exhibition! There's a lot of "compare and contrast" going on in this exhibition, with older and more traditional Viennese pictures displayed in themed rooms with modern, experimental works by artists like Egon Schiele. At times this worked really well, but at others the older pieces felt like padding for an exhibition that didn't have enough "modern" to fill the exhibition space.
The strongest room was the one themed around death, with deathbed portraits, death masks, and memorial portraits of the recently deceased. Powerful stuff but - unsurprisingly - also a bit depressing (one picture in particular is quite heartbreaking).
Then I went a few stops along the Tube...
... to South Ken and the V&A, for lunch and a look round the Pearls exhibition. I had lunch in the lovely cafe but never made it to see the pearls... I did manage to check out one temporary exhibition while I was there (Elmgreen & Dragset's installation "Tomorrow" which was very cool) but mostly I got totally sidetracked by just wandering round the museum, soaking in all the loveliness.
"Oh, I'll just visit this gallery I love!"... "Oooh, maybe I'll just pop and visit that gallery too, I've not looked round there in years"... "Ah, now these galleries look so interesting!"... "Oh dear, is it gone five already? Oops!"
So, the Pearls exhibition is in the diary for a future visit!
Luckily I am always happy to put "go to the V&A" in my diary. On each visit to the big free museums and galleries in London I'm marking my copy of the floorplan so I know which rooms I've seen (I'm gradually ticking them all off, like a big nerd) and scribbling notes so I'll know for future visits where that particularly awesome painting was, which room that cool vase was in, which galleries were mindblowingly good & worth a re-visit, and so on. There are a LOT of notes scribbled on my map of the V&A! So much great stuff crammed into one building.
Then it was time to head home. It's always a bit depressing how early it gets dark at this time of year, but when all the Christmas lights start going up it's quite wonderful. The Natural History Museum is looking especially fabulous at the moment!