March 12, 2018 – By Matt Panfil
In the morning, we headed straight for the Tate Britain, where time's river swam along marble archways and vaulted chambers in streaming revelry. I stared in wonder into the floral depths of Sir John Everett Millais's "Ophelia," which I fell in love with as a sixth grader. In person, it was just as ethereal and tranquil as I'd dreamed — an Arcadian vision of serene death. He painted scenes of pure romance you could linger within, sensually luminous.
My other striking experience in the Take Britain occurred upstairs in a private exhibition of William Blake, a visionary weirdo who drew apocalyptic demons and bizarre creatures. Blake was a notorious iconoclast and I loved reading the backstories behind his curious subjects, especially regarding a vision he had of a demon who told him that all bloodthirsty men were reincarnated as fleas, resulting in a painting of one such flea demon, all hairy and brown and filth-encrusted like some simian ghoul that haunts children's bedrooms.
From there we split off into groups and I headed to the British Library, which houses a trove of literary treasures including ninth century Japanese woodblock prints, the Magna Carta with all its infinitesimal memoranda, and a legendary Guttenberg Bible – the production of which took three printers three months to produce three hundred copies, before which the printing press would've taken three scribes their entire lives to produce the same amount.
I was moved by the delicate beauty of the hand-painted, illuminated fourteenth-century manuscripts; the ornately bound sutras, codices, and Books of Hours; vivid inks and gold-leafed curlicue letters preserved on immaculately cleaned parchment. (According to the long-haired macabre library attendee, even humans were used in parchment-making and only the skins of criminals were utilized.) King George III might've been mad, but his own personal library was a wonder to behold in the center of the museum: a massive, steel-beamed cuboid tower of preserved old books, sealed off like a monument.
March 13, 2018 –By Shelby Pendleton
Tuesday morning, we set off across Millennium Bridge and stopped for several pictures with Tower Bridge in the background, then went on to the Tate Modern. Tate Modern is a huge museum with multiple galleries that showcase rotating featured contemporary artists. The works start at around 1880 with Impressionism and go onward. Honestly, I just had fun watching everyone playing on the huge swing sets in the bottom floor atrium. There was also a huge pendulum and it was so awe-inspiring to the visiting groups of children. I loved seeing the looks on their faces.