Tuesday, February 14, 2012

only in london

Today it fully occurred to me just how lucky I am to be in London.  This afternoon, I rode the Piccadilly Line and exited at King's Cross Station.  Located next to this hub of Harry Potter-fame is the British Library.  I had read about this place, and the current exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts greatly intrigued me.  I really did not have any expectations for this place though.  As I approached its mammoth gate, however, I realized the magnitude of this site.

A quiver of excitement filled me, and I dashed through its grand entranceway to see what lay within.  

Finding a map, I began to plan my first course of action.  I decided to head first to the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, which is home to some of the Library's greatest treasures.  
While this room may not contain diamonds or fine furs, it truly contains some of the most precious objects that I sure I will ever see.  I began my tour of the circumference of the room, viewing original copies of Shakespeare's sonnets, Handel's composition of Messiah, and Paul McCartney's scribbled lyrics of Yesterday.  In the center of the room, I found illuminated manuscripts of both Eastern and Western faiths, a King James Bible, The Gutenberg Bible, and original Buddhist sutras.  In a room to itself lay the infamous Magna Carta - a watershed document in history. 

Standing back, I contemplated the written works that I had just seen.  Slightly comically, I remembered the age-old argument of word v. image.  As an art historian, I am always quick to assume the superiority of the image, but, today, word may have received my checkmate.  

I felt simply amazed that so many exquisite works could possibly be held in one room.  As I turned to say goodbye to this awesome space, I thought to myself satisfactorily, Only in London