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20 July 2016
This Saturday the Museum of London opens its most theatrical exhibition to date, Fire! Fire! The exhibition combines a variety of sights, sounds, smells, textures and interactive exhibits to immerse visitors in the events leading up to, during and after the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The exhibition begins on an imagined Pudding Lane on the eve of the Great Fire, brought to life through theatrical timber set works inspired by 17th-century illustrations as well as silhouettes and sounds of Londoners going about their everyday lives. Entering Thomas Farriner’s bakery, visitors then witness the rapid progress of the Great Fire as it spreads across a map of London from 1666 projected on to a giant loaf of bread.
Nestled amongst the remains of fire damaged houses, the Museum of London’s rich Great Fire collections include a variety of scarred and warped household objects such as pottery, plates, bricks, tiles, ceramics and glass which were uncovered in excavations at the end of the 20th century. A selection of these rarely seen artefacts can be touched and more closely examined with microscopes and magnifying glasses. Further into the gallery, excavated archaeological iron objects can be analysed with X-rays, revealing some surprising details.
One of the star objects is the museum’s fire engine from the late 1670s, faithfully restored for the exhibition by Croford Coachbuilders using traditional techniques and materials. Other pieces of firefighting equipment on display include a squirt, a leather bucket and a fire hook, which are all put to the test in a touch screen game challenging players to save a row of houses from the Great Fire. A half-finished piece of embroidery, a pair of bed hangings and a burnt Geneva Bible all reportedly escaped the full wrath of the flames and are installed alongside a trunk encouraging visitors to consider what they would rescue if faced with the same fate.
An examination into the aftermath of the fire reveals the devastating effect it had on both London and Londoners alike. Within a makeshift tent overlooking Wenceslaus Hollar’s panorama of destroyed London, audio extracts from Samuel Rolle, Thomas Vincent and others detail the personal suffering of the 100,000 displaced Londoners who fled to the fields around the City of London, 80% of which was destroyed. Alongside plans to rebuild from the likes of Sir Christopher Wren and John Evelyn, visitors can arrange blocks of houses and iconic buildings on top of a map of the City, to resemble the previous street layout or use their imagination to create something new.
Fire! Fire! runs from 23 July 2016 – 17 April 2017 and is accompanied by a programme of talks and events. Tickets are priced from £8 for adults and £4 for children online, with family tickets also available. For further information, please visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk/fire-fire.
The Fire! Fire! exhibition and associated programme is part of Great Fire 350, a programme of events and activities to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. Further information can be found at www.visitlondon.com/greatfire350.
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The Museum of London tells the ever-changing story of this great world city and its people, from 450,000 BC to the present day. Our galleries, exhibitions, displays and activities seek to inspire a passion for London and provide a sense of the vibrancy that makes the city such a unique place.
The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm and is FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 80,000 objects with more being added. www.museumoflondon.org.uk.
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