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British Library, London

4.0 stars

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Sacred exhibition at the British Library

 stars
I’ve always been a bit of a library geek. I moved to London last November, and I’ve already joined two libraries over here – one near work, one near home, so I can get my book fix on both weekdays and weekends. So I guess it wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that knows me that the British Library was on my must-see list.

I did intend to check out the reading rooms, but I realised once I got there, that to do so, I’d need a reader pass. To get a reader pass, I’d need two forms of ID and a reason why I wanted to use the collections. While I might have this information in the future, it was all a bit too intimidating for a first visit.

However, there were plenty of open-to-the-public areas to keep me entertained for the afternoon: a café where I could drink hot chocolate next to a floor to (very high) ceiling display of old books on shelves; a shop with bookish souvenirs; and in the Pearson gallery, an exhibition entitled ‘Sacred’.

Entry into the exhibition was free, but I had to collect a ticket from the desk by the door which gave me an admission time. I also picked up an audio guide for the exhibition which cost £3.50.

The Sacred exhibition looks at the religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. There are videos and computer kiosks, tapestries, wedding dresses and flashing lights, but for me, the real highlights were the books themselves. It was fascinating to see a piece of the Dead Sea Scrolls from 50AD and the beautifully decorated early versions of the sacred texts.

While there were short explanations about each of the pieces on display, I preferred to listen to the commentaries on the audio guide about selected exhibits. On the whole the audio was very well to put together, with narrative as well as short pieces from the exhibition’s curators. There were times when I had to search for a while to find the next audio guide number but that may have just been because of the fact that there was a human guide in the exhibition as well, and the crowds around her tended to obscure a whole wall of the exhibit at once.

The British Library is a short walk from the Euston Road exit of Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations. The Sacred exhibition runs until September 23, 2007. [more ]


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