Enthused by glowing reviews, we went to the newly renovated Whitechapel. The gallery is now an uncoordinated shamble of dislocated rooms, with confusing signs and a spasmodic lack of flow. The rooms are numbered using a separate numbering scheme from the exhibition rooms. The helpful plan shows separate floors with staircases, however it's entirely unclear which staircase connects to which. The result of all this is that you tend to come into rooms in the wrong direction, and hence don't see the information about the pointless garbage exhibits until after you've left the room.
Having said all that, the woven version of the Picasso painting that normally hangs outside the Security Council Chamber was very impressive and moving, and there was a Bridget Riley and a Graham Sutherland in the permanent collection which was some consolation.
After the disaster of the Whitechapel we were keen to find something entertaining, so we walked down through the city, over tower bridge and then found the Design Museum sitting overlooking the river. After a spot of lunch we wandered through the Hussein Chalayan exhibition, which was a mixture of clothes design and installation art. The best items were very futuristic designs, sometimes paired with conceptual video pieces or music. One item was a dress that included dozens of lasers, which were layered throughout the design (although only seemed to work in a darkened room such that you couldn't really see the dress!). Overall the feel of the outfits was reminiscent of some of the designs in Star Wars episode 1 and 2, or perhaps the outfits in the Aeon Flux movie.
Then we went to the main exhibition, which included dozens of interesting exhibits detailing items, articles, buildings, vehicles, furniture, games and other things that were explars of modern design. It was actually much more interesting than I thought it would be, with clear and well designed displays providing just enough background to give a feel for the ingenuity and rationale behind the products. After a coffee, we spent our cash on some fun and interesting items from the shop, so we came home with a couple of well stocked swag bags. Definitely recommended for an afternoon out!
On the way back to the train we stopped off at the Wellcome Trust building on Euston Road, which had a couple of exhibitions generally themed around mental illness. The first was a general collection of information and exhibits from some institutions around Vienna, including some implements. The best item was an a small wooden cage surrounded by wires, which generates an electric field through the patient's body, supposedly helping with manic patients. Would have looked at home in a Marilyn Manson video.
Then on to an exhibition of Bobbie Baker's sketchbooks, she did one painting a day during her care during her mental illness. They were very honest and funny and sometimes chilling illustrations of her conflict and state of mind, particularly when she started to imagine that the healthcare professionals were working together to uncover her secrets, including imagining that there was a monitoring room with video screens under the stairs. Unfortunately it closed when we were only half way round, so we have to go back to finish off the story!