31.03.2015
14:24

Kingston Museum

Address:

Wheatfield Way, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2PS

Phone:

020-8547 5006

Website:

www.kingston.gov.uk/museum

Opening times:

Tue, Fri, Sat 10:00-17:00, Sun 10:00-19:00

How to get there:

Station: Kingston (from Waterloo)

Entry fee:

Free

Additional information:

Shop

Kingston was for a long time the first bridgeable point on the river Thames above London Bridge. It was also the birthplace of the pioneer photographer and cinematographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904), who left a collection of his possessions to the borough in his will. This is displayed here, in what is in fact a small local history museum with an important collection of Anglo-Saxon and Bronze Age artefacts. Those are housed in the ground floor galleries, and include bronze rapiers and axes discovered locally, as well as an unusually well preserved nine-foot Anglo-Saxon logboat carved from the trunk of a single oak. Even so, the museum’s main claim to fame undoubtedly remains the collection of items associated with Muybridge, displayed in one small gallery on a mezzanine level.

Edward James Muggeridge was born in Kingston in 1830. He changed his name first to Muygridge and then to Muybridge, adopting the spelling of his first name from the name of Eadweard the Elder on Kingston’s coronation stone, unveiled in 1850. Hoping to find a market for his topographical photographs, he left Britain for America, where he earned himself a reputation with his Yosemite landscapes and made a living as official photographer of the building of the Pacific Railway. In 1872, Muybridge was asked to photograph the racehorse Occident, which belonged to a former governor of California, in order to prove that all four of the horse’s feet left the ground at once when at a trot. His famous experiments conducted at Palo Alto farm and racetrack, using an ingenious system of trip wires, proved that indeed they did. In 1873 he photographed the final conflict between the US Army and the Modoc Indians, the year before he shot dead the man whom he suspected of fathering his son Floredo. Brought to trial for murder, he was acquitted thanks to a brilliant defence by his lawyer.

Continuing his experiments with the phenomenon known to the Victorians as Persistence of Vision, Muybridge worked on developing simple zoetropes. A pair of the kind that he used are shown: revolving slotted drums showing an ostrich running and a man jumping up and down; along with a phenakistiscope, one of the earliest moving picture projection devices. The real breakthrough, though, came with his invention of the zoöpraxiscope. His second machine, from 1879, along with a 16-inch glass disc from his first model, can be seen here. He described it as ‘the first apparatus ever used for synthetically demonstrating movement analytically photographed from life’, and toured the projector to considerable acclaim in Paris in 1881 and London the next year. During 1884, at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Muybridge took over 20,000 photographs of people, animals and birds in movement for Animal Locomotion, published in 1887, complete with 781 folio-sized plates that continue to be of great use to draughtsmen and designers. One of only nine surviving examples of his 17ft-long Panorama of San Francisco, taken from Hopkins’ residence in 1878, is also held here, and a reproduction displayed.

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MUSEUMS & GALLERIES OF LONDON

Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.

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2 Willow Road (National Trust)
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Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
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Tate Modern
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South London Art Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
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Shakespeare’s Globe
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Saatchi Gallery
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The Royal Mews
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Royal Hospital Chelsea
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Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
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Ranger’s House (English Heritage)
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The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
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Museum of London
Garden Museum
Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
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The Queen's House
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Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
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Library and Museum of Freemasonry
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Kingston Museum
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