The Museum’s Collections
17th and 18th century
Inscriptions on the base inform visitors as to specifics about the fire and monument.
By the late eighteenth century, however, the character of the square changed and it soon became an area known for its entertainment venues, one of the first of which was a “museum of natural curiosities” known as the Holophusikon.
By the nineteenth century, more entertainment facilities sprung up around Leicester Square, including Wyld’s Globe, which was built for the International Exposition and housed a giant scale map of the world; and the 1854-built Alhambra, a theatre and concert hall which for many years dominated the square. It was joined thirty years later by the Empire Theatre of Varieties. All would help to establish Leicester Square as the heart of the West End entertainment district.
In addition, the square is surrounded with floor plaques that include the names and handprints of famous actors, similar to those found at the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.
was commissioned by Queen Victoria as a tribute to her late consort.
The monument, standing 175ft/53m tall, was built from 1864 to 1876 after a neo-Gothic design by Sir George Gilbert Scott. A 14ft/4m high gilded statue shows Albert seated under a pinnacle, holding a catalogue of the 1851 Great Exhibition. The pinnacle is set on a base with a large frieze. It is adorned with marble reliefs of 178 people, mostly artists.
At each corner are four statues depicting some of prince Albert’s interests: engineering, agriculture, commerce and
manufacturing. At the bottom of the steps leading to prince Albert’s statue are four more sculpture groups, symbolizing Europe, Africa, America and Asia.
The forty-five meter-tall building is part of a complex known as More London, which includes shops, offices, and a sunken amphitheatre (The Scoop) that is the site of many summer open-air concerts and other arts performances.
The building includes an assembly chamber with amphitheatre-style seating for an audience of 250 people. There’s a total of about 17,000 square meter (185,000 sq ft) of floor space
inside the egg-shaped building and the office space inside is flexible – able to be subdivided, when necessary, with solid or transparent partitions.
Great War (WWI) and the contributions made to it by the peoples of the Empire”.
The museum was officially opened by act of Parliament in 1920 and its first location was in the city’s magnificent Crystal Palace, an astounding glass building in Hyde Park. Four years later, it was relocated to two small galleries adjoining the Imperial Institute, and in 1936, it was reopened in the central portion of the former Bethlem Royal Hospital for the insane in the Southwark area of the city.
In 1939, the trustees of the museum decided that it would be pertinent to also include World War II artifacts at the Imperial War Museum. Today the museum covers all major military
events of the 20th century in which Great Britain was involved.
Falklands and the Gulf War. One of the highlights is a walk-through recreation of a front-line trench in 1916. Another highlight is the Secret War exhibition, which focuses on Britain’s secret agencies MI5 and MI6.
A large part of the museum’s collection is not on display but can be accessed for study. It features approximately 150,000 works of art, including 14,000 paintings, 30,000 international war posters, a large video and photo archive and more than 10,000 private documents of people involved in warfare.
Three years later the building opened as the new site of the hospital, previously located at Moorfield. The central dome was added later, in 1845, by Sidney Smirke.
In 1930 the hospital moved to a new building near Beckenham. The building’s large wings were demolished to make way for a park. The central part of the former hospital building remained and was transferred into a museum, which opened in 1936 as the Imperial War Museum.
The biggest attraction is a huge water tank with a large number of sharks and sting-rays. Another large tank, in the Indian Ocean zone, has sting-rays, firefish, sea anemones and frilled sharks.
Sharks are the most popular animals in the aquarium although piranhas, rays, crocodiles and seahorses also attract plenty of onlookers. The rays are especially popular with children since they can caress the rays in a special open tank.
who are commemorated on a plaque at the obelisk. However, it was rescued and taken to Spain for repair, eventually arriving in London in January 1878.
honor Caesar and Marc Antony – a Roman General and supporter of Caesar – by Cleopatra (who had a relationship with Caesar and later with Marc Antony). They were later toppled and covered with sand, which actually aided in their preservation.
Two bronze replicas of Egyptian sphinxes sit on either side of Cleopatra’s Needle and bear the inscription “the good god, Thuthmosis III given life”, written in hieroglyphics. The sphinxes face the wrong way. They look in the direction of the obelisk, while they are meant to look away from the monument in order to protect it against enemies.
Though Cleopatra’s Needle was restored in 2005, visitors can still view damage to one of the sphinxes’ pedestal, caused when a German bomb landed near it during a World War I air raid.