This last week saw the disappearance of a much remembered tourist feature in Blantyre. The Dark Room. At the David Livingstone Centre museum, the few lights that set the scene so eerily in this room for the last 89 years, were disconnected…. for good.
The museum has recently been closed whilst recording and packing all the artefacts takes place, something that will be ongoing for several more months.
The ‘dark room’ was a popular feature, especially with children. You would be hard pressed NOT to find a child or adult in Blantyre who knows about the “dark room’, remembers pushing the buttons and watching the 8 beautiful tableaux light up. For others, it was a room to “get through quickly!”
As I observed last week, the team are carefully extracting the tableaux, some of which are showing signs of age on the paintwork. As they’re carefully packed for storage, the voids behind the tableaux are again exposed, the first time in almost 90 years, which previously were bed spaces for the last residents. When the museum was formed in 1929, the existing recessed raised bed spaces provided perfect display spaces for the new tableaux, commissioned to measure exactly.
I cannot imagine how many hundreds of thousands of people have walked through that space looking at these 8 depictions of Livingstone’s journey through Africa. It must surely be a million or more. The dark room will be fondly remembered by many people for the spooky and exciting room it was.
Looking to the future
Of course, the Tableaux are to be reinstated in the completed museum, eventually put back on display for further generations, but will, I’m told, be in more brighter, interactive and informative surroundings to show off their beauty.
Do YOU remember the ‘dark room’?
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