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The museum pratfalls of London’s mayoral candidates (yep, Zac AND Sadiq)

5 April 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

This morning, Zac Goldsmith, Conservative candidate for mayor of London, found himself in the back of a black cab, being quizzed on his knowledge of the city by the BBC’s Norman Smith. Though many of London’s 8 million inhabitants would consider questions such as ‘who plays at Loftus Road?’ and a query about the busiest stretch of the tube network’s Central Line as something of an easy ride, Goldsmith was unable to provide answers.

But worse was to come. ‘Where is the Museum of London?’ Smith asked. ‘The Museum of London is…where is the Museum of London…the Museum of London,’ Goldsmith stuttered. ‘I went there very, very recently…I can’t tell you where.’

Given that the museum’s impending move from its current premises at the Barbican to Smithfield Market is one of London’s largest cultural infrastructure projects, Goldsmith’s slip-up leaves him looking rather less than enlightened, all told.

However, Goldsmith isn’t the only mayoral candidate to have been left floundering this week by his ignorance of the city’s museums. In another (rather less embarrassing) ‘black cab’ interview, Smith challenged Goldsmith’s Labour rival Sadiq Khan to name London’s oldest museum: ‘Ohh…is it…er…the History Museum?’ responded a flummoxed Khan. Rakewell has yet to discover an institution going by this name in London. Whereabouts is that one then, Sadiq?

Might Rakewell suggest that Zac and Sadiq bury the hatchet and take a crash course in London’s history and cultural heritage before the elections next month? If either would like him to arrange introductions, they know where to get in touch…

Sadiq, Zac, or indeed anyone else – send you stories to rakewell@apollomag.com.