Two Museum Stores
Other places that don’t have the portability of folding fans have to keep their collections much more static. I guess it’s hard to move a rather moth-eaten stuffed walrus too often. So museums have stores – and not always in the most obvious places. Take the Horniman, for example. The actual building is in Forest Hill (and well-worth a day trip, especially if you like stuffed walruses) but their “Study Collection Centre” is actually that rather sinister-looking ex-school on Greenwich Peninsula. I used to look and wonder at that place for years before I found out what it was – all manner of nefarious goings-on, most of them along the lines of The Long Good Friday danced through my imagination, but I guess I’m rather glad that it has a much sweeter purpose.
Behind those metal-grilled windows and steel fences, I imagine rows and rows; a whole host, indeed, of stuffed walruses, all waiting their turn to be allowed a spot in the limelight. I once tried to get a visit there, but with no luck whatsoever. You have to be a bona fide stuffed walrus expert – or at least someone who’s studying them.
Funnily enough, the museum that I might have assumed it was a store for, The National Maritime Museum, has its stores scattered around all over the place. They are very cagey about it, admitting only to “a number of storage outstations in South East London.”
They have to admit to the two they own the freehold on – an old RAF store in Kidbrooke, at the end of Nelson Mandela Road, and the “architecturally interesting” Brass Foundry, possibly designed by John Vanbrugh, in Woolwich Arsenal (curiously, they don’t actually own the freehold on either the main building of the NMM or the Royal Observatory, which as their men in grey suits noted “had no realisable value to the museum.” Thank God. Maybe they didn’t mean it to come out quite as though they were going to flog off some of the space for apartments or a shopping mall, but don’t you think that that phrase looks as though someone had actually thought about it?)