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Journey to Madagascar 2009 

September 29, 2009

Apple, Science and Art

We started the morning with a stop at Mecca for Apple Computer fans in London. The issue was a particular connector I needed to make it easier to live the computer life during this trip. Naturally, they had it. Go Apple! Apple in London looks the same as Apple in San Francisco or New York, and they have customer service down flat.

Mecca on Regent Street

Then we went on to the Royal Academy with its exhibition of Anish Kapoor’s sculpture, if you can call it sculpture – installations might be the better term. It’s a stunning show including pieces I would love to live with and others I won’t rush to see again. Fans of Chicago will recall Kapoor as the creator of the enormous, reflective “jelly bean” installation in Millennium Park on the lake. It’s a terrific creation that draws people from all over to peer at their own distorted reflections from its curved surfaces. It brings out the kid in nearly everyone. “What would it look like if I stick my thumb in my ear and waggle my hand? No one’s looking. I’ll do it!”

Anish Kapoor’s “Tall Tree and the Eye” installed in the courtyard of the Royal Academy.

London’s remarkable museums and galleries are one of the most compelling reasons to visit the city. Art and culture lie at the intellectual heart of a city, and London’s heart is beating well.

The morning papers include long articles on Don Fisher’s death. They also note the Fishers’ recent gift of their extraordinary collection of modern art to SFMOMA, which will make SFMOMA a Mecca itself for art lovers from around the world. The Fishers deserve the gratitude of all San Franciscans for their generous contribution to the cultural riches of the city.

In the afternoon we visited the Science Museum in South Kensington. It’s right next door to our destination tomorrow, the Natural History Museum, and to Imperial College of Science and Technology as well, where I have had quite a few friends on the faculty over the years. Imperial is Britain’s top institution in its field.

Ready to tour the Science Museum in South Kensington.

The fact that today was Monday may help explain why there were not all that many people at the Science Museum. That said, there may be other factors as well. To me, many of the exhibits appeared to be rather tired – even boring. We stayed more out of duty than interest. Of course, I was seeing this museum through far keener eyes than on my last visit about a decade ago. I think they would benefit from a good earthquake of the California Academy style.

It appears that the Brits have heard about Madagascar!

The London Science Museum has made me even more eager to see the new Exploratorium rise on the SF waterfront. I know the Exploratorium folks will set the pace for what it means to be a Mecca for science enthusiasts.

Filed under: Uncategorized — greg @ 10:52 am

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The Chief Penguin


Greg Farrington

Greg Farrington, Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, is visiting the island of Madagascar. He is joined by his wife, and Academy researchers, who are surveying and assessing this biodiversity hotspot.

Visit the Farringtons' personal blog, Madagascar Adventure, for in-depth details of this Academy expedition.

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