|by Alex Robinson||Museums, United Kingdom, London||4|
The world's largest urban museum, the Museum of London re-opened today with five new galleries.
The museum has long been a London highlight. It tells the story of the city from the Great Fire of London in 1666 to the present day, using state of the art interactive displays, re-creations of period urban scenes, and cleverly designed neighborhood maps.
The five new "Galleries of Modern London" sit in a stunning glass cube perched over the street. Rooms are decorated with models, posters, paintings and artifacts. There's a lavish gilt Lord Mayor's coach, gritty displays showcasing the troubled 1970s and 1980s (with the rise of the fascist National Front and the Poll tax riots) and cutesier items like an old two-penny red phone box, which was once as much a London icon as the black cab and bowler hat.
There's also an 18th-century "pleasure garden" and an interactive map of the Thames showing how London is changing with new high rise buildings and modernist architecture.
Browse on your own or take a guided tour with Cockney "Pearly King" John Walters, who gives colorful running commentary dressed from head to toe in traditional East End pearly buttons and a black cap. museumoflondon.org.uk, free.