Way out on the farthest flung reaches of the Piccadilly Line, about a 10 minute walk from Acton Town tube, in the middle of a walled green park sits the former seat of the Rothschild family, now the Gunnersbury Park Museum. Things very nearly went wrong for me before this Museum Adventure had even begun because, dear readers (for now I am certain that there is more than just the one of you!), there is a tube stop confusingly called Gunnersbury Park.
Luckily, I double checked my directions.
Not that you really wanted to read about my geographical ineptitude or trivia about the London Underground network (for the latter, you can go here).
Oh no, I’ve lost your interest before I even got to the good bit -for there is a good bit, if I can ever find the words to get there.
The Smell of History
So, yes, the former seat of the Rothschild family is now a museum dedicated to the history of the local area. It’s a charming little museum, it even smells of history. I realise that that statement doesn’t make much sense. What does history smell of? To me, it smells of old books, and dust. It’s the scent you detect in old houses, or where important things have happened.
It’s hard to describe but this place smelt of it.
Robots of Death
As part of a special exhibition called Surprises in Store in which the curators had raided the museum’s stores in search of… surprises… something special, something deadly, something faced by a time traveller in a police box had turned up.
Something that inspired this Museum Adventurer to venture to the furthest-fung corners of the Piccadilly line.
If you have read this blog before, you’re probably aware that I’m a fan of long-running science-fiction programme Doctor Who, especially if you’ve read about my visit to the Doctor Who Museum or seen the Doctor Who badges in my Museum of Museum Badges. One of the surprises the curators found in the stores was one of the Doctor’s early foes – the dramatically named Robots of Death!
These monsters were made in 1977 by a local resident who worked for the nearby Ealing Studios named Elizabeth Waller. We’re told that the deadly droids were inspired by adverts from the 1930s “particularly the waved hair” according to the label.
The early Whovian tales were notorious for their shoe-string budget, and the Robots of Death were no exception to this squeeze-every-penny rule; their green armour is in fact made from shower curtains.
I suppose this makes them water-proof at least, which is handy for a robot, non?
Ceilings of Loveliness
One of the things that really struck me about the museum was the ceilings. Oftentimes I’ve found museum architecture to be just as interesting as the artefacts and the Gunnersbury Park museum has one of the loveliest ceilings I’ve ever encountered.
Just look at these.