A copper-clad coin that blocks electromagnetic signals – and therefore prevents you from sending and receiving emails and messages – can be found in London’s brand new library.
The Southwark Heritage Center and Walworth Library – which opened in May near Elephant and Castle – are home to the Faraday Room, a study space named after local scientist and inventor Michael Faraday. One of Faraday’s inventions was the Faraday Cage – of which this study room is a particularly chic (and innovative) example.
This is not the only surprise you will find in the library. In addition to 20,000 new books, it contains a permanent collection of 300 curious artifacts. These include The Hunter God – a sculpture dating to AD 150-250, discovered during the excavation of a well in the grounds of Southwark Cathedral in 1977, and believed to contain elements of deities such as Maponus, Apollo and Mithras.
There is also a “Wall of the World”, where you will find “Cree dolls” made in Europe in the 18th century and sent to Canada to be dressed in traditional Cree costume, before being sent back to Europe to be sold as gifts.
Like many objects here, the Cree dolls were part of the Cuming Museum collection, established by avid collectors Richard Cuming and his son Henry Syer Cuming in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
The museum building – which is a few meters from the new library – suffered a devastating fire in 2013 and has never reopened. This is the first chance in eight years to see many fascinating objects that survived the fire.
Aside from the permanent collection, the Southwark Heritage Center and Walworth Library are currently hosting a Myth Making exhibit. Using scriptures, paintings, sculptures and objects from the Cuming Collection, art studio Wignall & Moore worked with the local community to examine what is true and what is myth in museums, the literature and art, thus creating new myths for Southwark along the way.
The Southwark Heritage Center and the Walworth Library are open Monday through Saturday. Anyone can view the collections, but you will need a library card to reserve study space and borrow books.
Last updated on August 09, 2021