Culture24/7: Marilyn Monroe and more in our History and Heritage picks

By Ben Miller | 01 October 2012
A black and white photo of a film star in a glamorous dress staring into the camera
A Marilyn Monroe-shaped touch of class at the National Portrait Gallery this month© Courtesy The John Kobal Foundation


Black History Month, Food and Farming, Modern British Childhood, Old Norse and Jorvik panpipes are a few of our favourite things in History and Heritage this month.

Black History Month, various venues


Often inspiring, frequently entertaining and with plenty of new stories to tell during the Olympic year and the 50th year of Jamaican independence, Black History Month has a stellar line-up, from the Mayor of Enfield to Muhammad Ali's journeys through Bangladesh after a rare taste of defeat.

If the key to an enticing festival is diversity, this nationwide programme with a celebratory feel comes up with the goods in style.


A Taste of History – Local Food and Farming, St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, Lymington, October 6 until November 17


Gluten sufferers look away: research suggests some of our Iron Age ancestors ate four pounds of bread a day. Hardy stuff, although it’s a safe bet that times have changed from the era when most residents were part of local food production. This story of changing culinary habits is also a celebration of the sensory pleasures of good grub.


Modern British Childhood 1948-2012, V&A Museum of Childhood, London, from October 13


Running a gauntlet between 1950s prescription glasses and mobile phones for under-5s, the Museum of Childhood starts at the 1948 London Olympic Games and surveys how knee-high times have changed. Partly nostalgia for grandparents, partly a poser for communities, it ponders changing communications, enduring inequalities and challenges the viewer to make up their own mind.


Jane and Louise Wilson, , Manchester, from October 6


Upon developing his 1986 film, Chernobyl: A Chronicle of Difficult Weeks, Ukrainian Vladimir Shevchenko spotted static interference caused by radiation – effectively, his documentary itself had become part of the disaster. Jane and Louise Wilson's reflective work connects some of the stories from “veterans” and a film crew working with a camera so radioactive it had to be buried.


Wonderland, Dean's Park, York, October 26-29


Illuminating York is a light-based festival which does what it says on the tin. But it helps when you’ve got a huge store of lighting technology on loan from Blackpool Council, and gets even better if you give Vic Reeves free reign to create an absurd magical wonderland, accessible with a passport on sale for a fiver.


The Orb, York Minster, York, from October 27


York Minster Revealed is the largest conservation project of its kind in the country, creating interactive galleries which tell some of the stories behind the Minster, backed to the tune of £10.5 million in Heritage Lottery Fund cash. Subtitled A Dome of Discovery, the opening of The Orb imbues historical awe with an artistic twist.


Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair, National Portrait Gallery, London


Cecil Beaton’s 1956 photo, taken in the Ambassador Hotel in New York and showing Monroe clutching a rose, was her favourite portrait. Exclusivity illuminates others, in which Monroe meets the Queen, visits the Comedy Theatre with Laurence Olivier, hangs out with poet Edith Sitwell and sits for a number of rare British magazine covers.
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