Before we move on to today's post about Pollock's Toy Museum (a real treat!), I wanted to clarify something that I may have badly stated last time when I spoke about that first experience in the wheelchair -- here's the quote: "And then I really broke because it felt so embarrassing to know you had to be pushed through a museum. I mean, going to museums is what I DO." And I feel I should clarify this, for I may have offended some with that word 'embarrassing.'
I know or have known loads of people rely on the chair to get them just about anywhere. My dad did in later years as does another extended family member whom I admire more than just about any woman I've ever met. I've never viewed the wheelchair embarrassing for those who need them. And we may all need one at some point or permanently sooner or later. The wheelchair can open up the world to those who can't see it on their own two feet.
What I was embarrassed -- and probably a little angry -- about was the fact that I was broken and could not do what I usually do -- walk about and enjoy the art under my own steam. I was embarrassed and angry that my body had rebelled in a very painful way, so painful I had to rely on assistance when in my regular world I would be the one pushing someone else. Embarrassed that this happened in public. By the end of the trip, any self-consciousness I had on that zone had disappeared and in fact, I was as likely to say to Rick, "hey, can you please find the wheelchair" as I was to try to go it on two feet. That first time is tough, knowing your limitations are greater than you planned. But it was also a great blessing.
So, if I inadvertently offended, forgive me. If anything, it provided a greater empathy that I know will be useful in the future. Now...
Those of you who have read Jenny Woolf's travel blog know that she'll often feature some fascinating and off-the-grid places and I found out about this one from her. Pollock's Toy Museum in London doesn't always make the guidebook cut but it is well worth a visit if you love old toys.
And for me, it had another attraction -- the wonderful toy theatres, some of which are very old and all made by hand. (Jenny wrote about a recent toy theatre production of Aladdin right here and here and she has some terrific photos.)
So, while Rick went back to the guitar center, I took the tube to Pollock's, and when I rounded the corner, this is what I saw.
Now, isn't that the most charming building? Actually, it is two buildings, from the 17th and 18th centuries, combined.
And it's full of all the features old buildings like that have -- low ceilings and narrow, winding staircases. (In other words, not for those who can't climb.)
In brief, the museum, in London's Fitzrovia, was originally a shop and printers dating back to the 1850s. The collection is largely Victorian and displayed in six small rooms and on every available bit of wall space. Of special interest (especially to me) were the toy theatres. Benjamin Pollock hand printed, constructed and colored much of the toy theatre material housed in the museum today.
It came to it's current location in the late 1960s.
You wind your way up the narrow staircase and into various rooms. Large cases protect much of the collection.
And what a collection it is! If you loved dolls, you have everything from the little baby doll...
...to elaborately dressed little girls...
...and fancy-dressed dolls.
This one was a little creepy.
Even Queen Alexandra was preserved in doll form!
Military toys dolls were not ignored.
Nor were dollhouses and miniatures.
This one was quite spectacular and it was just about impossible to get a halfway decent photo, much less a decent one!
Teddy Bears? We have a few...
...and a few more!
Blogger Elizabeth is a rocking horse fan.
These are for you!
This scene is supposedly of Mr. Pollock, creating one of the toy theatres.
There were board games and tiny animals, puzzles and puppets!
Of course Punch and Judy were included!
There were even toys I remembered and owned!
Every square inch was covered, ceiling to floor!
But my favorite part was the toy theatre section. The typical size of these was about two feet wide and maybe a little bit taller.
Benjamin Pollock created most, if not all, of these himself and they are elaborate representations of actual London theatre stages.
This is a bad photo because of the lighting but you can see there are several sections with grooves in the base.
These allow characters to slide in and out of a scene at different depths of field, adding to the perspective.
Can you imagine seeing a show in one of these? (Jenny did HERE)
The detail of the scenery painting was exquisite.
And you can only imagine the countless hours it took to not only engineer one of these but actually design, draw, create, cut out and assemble the various parts.
And of course the museum empties out into a fun gift shop where I found a few things from times past!
It was time to leave Pollock's and meet Rick back at St. James Church for another concert. Then we enjoyed lunch in the marketplace outside the church.
Wonderful crepes, made while you waited!
From there a short walk to the National Gallery and a special exhibit at the Canada House! Next time!
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