Yesterday morning we went to the Natural History Museum in London. The first weekend after the lockdown. Tickets needed to be booked in advance. Normally I wouldn’t even consider visiting at the weekend, it’s always horribly busy. But not today.
We walked in and it was wonderful to experience the space so empty.
The busy sections for some reason are always the dinosaurs. And for that matter, the replicas of dinosaurs. Certainly not the section of minerals. This was completely and utterly deserted.
It was the first sunny day after days of rain. Cabinets and cabinets of rocks behind glass. Small labels next to each, stating its name and origin. From a distance, this layout was not that inviting.
But come up closer and something quite different revealed itself: The low winter sun shone through the windows at a pleasing angle, illuminating the miraculous gifts of the earth, intensifying the colours, heightening textures and hence their tactile qualities.
Miniature worlds opened up. George Sand’s Journey into the Crystal. I encountered rocky mountains and glaciers, stalactites, arrested eruptions, melting green lava, slabs of clear ice and various ice formations. There were ocean corals and even a slightly toxic coloured ancient broccoli.
“I followed her, and this journey – which I estimated must have been several leagues – was covered so swiftly I was unaware of the moments passing. We were soon on the tallest summit of the great ice peak, which was in reality just a colossal prism of milky hyaline quartz, as was borne out, on a manageably small scale, by the geode which I held as a point of comparison, and just as Laura had declared to me; but what a grandiose sight came into view again from the very summit of the great white crystal! At our feet, the circle of amethyst, drowned in its own reflections, was only a small element of the picture, agreeable because of the melancholy sweetness of its lilac tints, the elegance of its shapes contributing to the harmony of the whole. how many other splendours were unfurled in space!” (from Laura: A Journey into the Crystal by George Sand)
Here are some of the treasures, captured through the glass.