Curse of the MOMI’s Tomb

Earlier this year, the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) opened on the South Bank in London amid much publicity and a welter of puns even worse than the one above. Typically, it was only mid-November that TC finally got around to visiting it, when we had a couple of hours to kill before seeing a film.

At 3.50, it’s quite expensive, especially if you add in another 2.95, as I did, for the programme (above) – it’s not a necessary purchase, since there’s more than enough in the museum itself to keep you informed, but it’s an interesting read in it’s own right. At the end of the exhibition is the shop and you can get copies there as well as at the beginning, which’ll save you carrying it around.

The exhibition is organised in roughly chronological order, beginning with the shadow plays of the ancient Egyptians and goes up through the magic lanterns and other toys of the Victorians, the early days of silent films, and so on until the modern era, though occasionally there are also exhibits which compare how, say, censorship has altered through the decades.

One thing you should be aware of is that certain staff are dressed up in costume appropriate to the period – when I first saw a Victorian lady wandering about, I thought I was suffering from a bizarre form of hallucination, induced by having watched ‘The Railway Children’ the previous night! It doesn’t help when they stop and talk to you – all the interesting questions you want the answers to are immediately driven clean out of your head.

It’s a very visual exhibition, as you would expect, with a huge variety of exhibits ranging from Rudolf Valentino’s personal stills album to a Dalek. There are buttons to be pushed, handles turned and a lot of films – I personally enjoyed the ‘Youth Culture’ video juke-box; pressing various buttons brought up clips from ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’, ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘Baby Doll’ and ‘Night of the Living Dead’, among others.

Not surprisingly, a large section is devoted to television. I can’t really give a fair assessment of it, as we were thrown out ( not for anything anti-social, you understand – the place was closing ) before we managed to get more than a cursory glance in passing at that section. At the pace we went round, it would have taken roughly 2 1/4 hours to see the whole place, and that wasn’t hanging about watching all the films – it’d be quite possible to spend an entire day there. I did enjoy it, and want to go back when I’ve more time. If you’re ever in London, you’ve only 3.50 left and have time to kill this is an interesting, and also very educational(!), way to do it.