Ruined Museums

“…the building had fallen to ruin. Only jagged edges of glass remained in the huge windows and massive sheets of facing had broken away from the corroded metal framework.”

Following on from my previous post, we exited the butterfly tent and went on to explore the cool, dimly lit recesses of the Natural History Museum. I can assure you the building was in a much better state than depicted in this post-apocalyptic rendering of the oldest part of the museum by illustrator, Ryan Quackenbush. To my mind there’s absolutely no doubt that H.G. Wells took some inspiration for his descriptions of the colossal, derelict buildings in ‘The Time Machine’ from the museums in South Kensington, London where he studied biology before becoming a writer and it would be nice to work some of this into the artwork for the musical.

The picture contains many of the right elements, with crumbling brick walls, broken masonry, twisted metalwork, cascading waterfalls and the juxtaposition flowers and ruined architecture really gives the impression of nature taking back her own. There are several other superb post-apocalyptic renderings of the Natural History Museum online, such as ‘Earth Abides’ by Ian Grainger and ‘Fallen Beauty’ by David Edwards—post-apocalyptic art is very much in vogue. Finally, here’s a fascinating tutorial by Sorin Bechira showing how he digitally manipulated a photograph of the Natural History Museum to age and degrade this fine monument—a most severe case of vandalisation.

To me there’s something in all these pictures that strongly resonates with Wells’s The Time Machine—entropy, decay and beauty too, but I wouldn’t describe The Time Machine as being post-apocalyptic though. There was no final devastating war, terrible natural disaster or virus that crippled or wiped out Mankind. It was more as if Humanity had atrophied for some reason, had ran out of steam, had given up on great plans and grand designs and civilisation had just simply petered out. Man’s empire was over and all his grandiose schemes were a thing of the past, lying buried beneath the dirt and flowers…

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