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Ten things to do in . . . November

Get out and about this month with our guide to the very best historical attractions

Published: November 6, 2009 at 11:04 am

1: Discover pioneering photos


For the first time the British Library is to stage a major photographic exhibition. The topic chosen for this debut is the growth of photography from its invention in the first half of the 19th century. There will be 250 images on display, which cover the early experimental years and the development of the medium into a mass pursuit. Highlights include a shot of the first hippo to come to England, an x-ray of frogs and a scene from the battle of Gettysburg. 

Exhibition: Points of View
British Library, London
30 October–7 March 2010
Phone: 020 7412 7332

2: Enjoy an early Christmas

Osborne House was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite residences so it’s an ideal location for
a weekend event that recalls Christmas celebrations at the time of her reign. Come along and enjoy Victorian entertainments, decorations and music and find out just how many of today’s Christmas customs originated in the 19th century.

Event: A Victorian Christmas
Osborne House, Isle of Wight
21–22 November
Phone: 0870 333 1183

3: Check in on an Edwardian family

Developments in technology meant that ordinary people were able to carry cameras around with them in the early 20th century. One family who took advantage of this were the Urtons from the Wirral. Several of their photographic negatives survive and now form the basis of a new exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery. The images offer a snapshot of Edwardian life and reveal how a typical family enjoyed their leisure time.

Exhibition: An Edwardian Family Album
Lady Lever Art Gallery, Wirral
23 October–3 May 2010
Phone: 0151 478 4136

4: See sculptures of ‘primitive’ design

Three young sculptors – Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska – shook up the British art world in the early 20th century. Their work eschewed classical ideas and harked back instead to the prehistoric past with a strong emphasis on sex and fertility. A new exhibition at the Royal Academy displays some of their best pieces and explores the themes their work represented.

Exhibition: Wild Thing
Royal Academy of Arts, London
24 October–24 January 2010
Phone: 020 7300 8000

5: Investigate Britain’s landscape

Paul Sandby (1731–1809) was an accomplished watercolour artist of the 18th century. He excelled at producing landscape scenes and his body of work presents a charming picture of Britain in this period. On the bicentenary of his death, the National Galleries of Scotland are exhibiting his art. Although Sandby was born in England he spent many years in Scotland so an Edinburgh gallery is a fitting setting for this retrospective.

Event: Picturing Britain
National Gallery Complex, Edinburgh
7 November–7 February 2010
Phone: 0131 624 6200

6: Remember the Berlin Wall

This month sees the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down and to mark the occasion the Imperial War Museum North is hosting a display of photographs of the barrier. The pictures chart the life of the wall from its hasty creation to its dramatic destruction. They also illustrate the impact it had on the inhabitants of the city over its lifetime. 

Exhibition: Living with the Wall
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester
Until 21 March 2010
Phone: 0161 836 4000

7: Witness a museum’s transformation

Last December one of Britain’s foremost museums, the Ashmolean in Oxford, closed its doors as it underwent a major revamp. Now, almost a year later, it is set to reopen after a £61 million redevelopment. The new museum has doubled its space for displays and contains 39 new galleries. The objects on show have also been rearranged in thematic ways showing the connections between diverse artefacts from across the globe.

Reopening: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
From 7 November
Phone: 01865 278000

Read a blog about the new-look Ashmolean here.

8: Watch bygone building

The Royal Institute of British Architects was founded 175 years ago and, to celebrate the anniversary, the British Film Institute is showing a range of films that explore the history of architecture. Hollywood classics mingle with art-house pieces and modern documentaries
in the schedule. There will also be a number of lectures taking place during the programme.

Film Season: Of Dreams and Cities – Architecture and Film
BFI Southbank, London
31 October–29 November
Phone: 020 7928 3232

9: Get digging at the Garden Museum

The modern allotment craze is not a new development, as visitors to a new exhibition at the Garden Museum will find out. The Good Life takes the story back to the 1908 Allotment
Act and then follows the progress of home growing over the past century. Peaks in ‘grow your own’ occurred in the world wars when Britain faced food shortages and again in the 1970s, inspired in part by the sitcom The Good Life. The exhibition closes by exploring the current popularity of allotments.

Exhibition: The Good Life
The Garden Museum, London
Until 7 March 2010
Phone: 020 7401 8865

10: Put a smile on your face

Photographs of some of Britain’s greatest postwar comedic talents should banish a few frowns this month at Graves Gallery. A new exhibition, entitled Comedians, displays portraits of the likes of Frankie Howerd, Stephen Fry, Lily Savage and Lenny Henry. The images are taken from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery and showcase the talents of photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson and Cecil Beaton.


Exhibition: Comedians
Museums Sheffield: Graves Gallery, Sheffield
21 November–20 March 2010
Phone: 0114 278 2600


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