What They Could Do, They Did

Arts, events and culture in South London and beyond...

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Wycinanki and Japanese fairy tales at The Horniman

For March, Londonist has selected the Horniman Museum as its Museum of the Month. And it's well-deserved: the Horniman has that magical aura of a secret trove, with its lovingly-preserved menagerie of stuffed beasts, musical instruments museum, and beautiful gardens.

As the author comments,

What is charmingly old-fashioned is the odd mix of topics covered, with one wing dedicated to the (stuffed and mounted) animal world, one to human artefacts, and a delightful aquarium in the basement. The museum doesn't try for completeness in any one area, but instead reflects the whims of its founder, indiscriminate of nature and culture. It's this hodgepodge approach that endears the Horniman to so many Londoners.

The latest article draws attention to the Horniman's overlooked but extensive library, via some beautiful excerpts from a 19th century Japanese book of illustrated fairy tales.

The Horniman is also currently hosting an exhibition of Polish wycinanki or paper cuts. In conjunction with the Polish cultural institute.

Wycinanki originated as an inexpensive means of decorating the homes of Polish peasants and were popular from the mid 19th century. They were generally made by women using sheep-shearing scissors and any readily available paper and replaced each spring when homes were whitewashed. With the advent of communism, Wycinanki were promoted by the new administration as an example of non-bourgeois art and enjoyed enormous popularity along with other forms of folk art.

On till September 2009, this makes for an essential spring/summer trip.

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