A new exhibition at Museum of London Docklands celebrate the capital’s now-numerous bridges, tracing the history of bridges in the city right back to its first timber bridge, built by the Romans in around 80 AD.
It takes the theme right up to the present day, with last year’s announcement of Thomas Heatherwick’s plans to build a Garden Bridge linking Temple and the Southbank.
‘To cross the river is to see London’, says the museum’s senior curator, Francis Marshall. ‘Most of the time we are in a maze of streets and the city reveals itself in fragments. However, on a bridge the full iconic panorama is laid out’.
The exhibition will show photography, film, maquettes and artworks relating to London’s bridges, including an image of Hungerford Bridge by photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot, dating from 1845.
The salt print photograph is the oldest in the museum’s collection, and will only be shown for one month in a special dark room to preserve it and minimise light damage. It has never been shown in the public before.
Other exhibits will include Ewan Gibbs’ 2007 London linocut and a photograph by Barry Lewis, Rush Hour from the South Side of London Bridge 1978 – which shows that the commuter madness London sees on its bridges every day is certainly not a modern-day phenomena.
Museum of London director Sharon Ament says, ‘London’s bridges are multifaceted in their form and function. They are among the city’s most compelling iconic designs.’
The show will also feature a sound art commission by Scanner – Bridging the World – which encourages people to share the sound of themselves saying the names of bridges, or discussing them. It’s hoped that the numerous voices and languages will form a ‘river of sound’, he says.
These will be played out through hanging speakers in the museum when it is unveiled in September, creating an immersive installation that aims to ‘encourage visitors to think about the city around them even one they have left the building’, says the museum.
Bridge runs from 27 June – 2 November at Museum of London Dockland, West India Quay, Canary Wharf, London E14 4AL