This exhibition runs from Fri, 22nd Oct 2021 to Sun, 8th May 2022. See all dates
This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include:
Cost: Free of Charge
Find out about the ongoing impact of the Port of London on our capital city, its people, design, culture and international reputation.
This exhibition traces more than 200 years of extraordinary experiences and intense activity on a river that has always been essential to the city’s survival.
Explore how the complex operations of the port have connected London to the rest of the world from the final days of the 18th century to the creation of the London Gateway ‘mega port’.
Peppered with personal stories, incidents, major operations, absorbing characters and pivotal moments, this exhibition brings the modern port and its history to life.
Exhibition highlights include:
Revealing the stories behind 80 words and expressions that entered the English language and the place names of streets and pubs as a result of the docks including ‘crack on’, ‘aloof’ and ‘Mudchute’.
An impressive audio visual display that will transport visitors into the PLA control room, using large-scale projections to create a day in the life of the Port of London, with multiple spectacular views of the river and all of the activity happening 24 hours a day.
An interactive timeline reveals stories from the docks since 1800, using 222 objects from the PLAs vast and eclectic archive. Material ranges from sandals with hollowed out soles to smuggle opium, seized in the 1870s, to original plans for the world’s most innovative purpose-built dock complexes.
Many of the dockers whose voices feature throughout the exhibition recall being hit by a heady aroma as a new cargo was unloaded or as they made their way through different areas of the docks. Visitors will experience a suite of distinct scents, carefully blended to capture the original pungency of the port.
Trade Winds: London, a new artwork by contemporary artist Susan Stockwell, using archive material and international currency to explore themes of international trade, economies, migration and empire. Elsewhere, a new artwork by Hilary Powell uses experimental photographic techniques and film to explore the container shipping industry and the people who keep it going.
Importantly, the exhibition will address the wider global context of London’s seaborne trade, most notably its historical dependence on the sugar trade and slavery. A document commemorating the original unveiling of the statue of merchant and slave owner Robert Milligan, which was removed from outside the museum in 2020, is displayed alongside original plans for docks. It serves as a reminder of the full truth behind the economic prosperity that made the building of West India Docks possible.
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