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Entertaining Buildings at Dulwich Picture Gallery

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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The Architecture of Theatres, Cinemas and Music Halls

While function is the priority of any building, how it looks can be as equally as important. Proof of this lies in when we are buying a house. When choosing somewhere to live, we need to feel comfortable, and in an environment that we want to see staring back at us day to day.

The same should be said about public buildings, although here, the job can be a whole lot trickier because you aren't just trying to appeal to one person's tastes; you have to satisfy the masses.

We can see for ourselves how London's architecture is changing. Once the city was made of stone, but increasingly now, it is becoming a glassy skyline.

I like the glass buildings, but they will never match up to the elegance or grandeur of our historical houses. The entertainment venues of the nineteenth and twentieth century are particularly impressive because they were made at a time when showing off one's status was the done thing.

Only those who were well off could afford to go to the theatre or a concert, and that is reflected in the opulent designs of our theatres, cinemas, and music halls. As part of an InSight lecture series, the Dulwich Picture Gallery presents Entertaining Buildings, in which guest speakers will discuss the significance of architecture within a historical context. There are three lectures that cost a total of £30, or you can book individual talks for £12.

Music Hall Stages: From Pothouse to Palace
29th January

Music Halls were formed out of a connection between drink and contemporary pop songs. This talk illustrates how these venues went into decline once such a link was broken.

Montagu Pike to the Multiplex – Cinemas in London and Beyond
5th February

Cinemas began to be built after the Cinematograph Act of 1909, but remained small until the 1920s. As we moved out of the silent era of film, into talkies, cinemas began to pop up all over the country. They reached their peak in 1946, and then steadily went into decline.

From Crimson to Concrete and Back– Looking for the Ideal Theatre in the 20th Century
12th February

This lecture explores the influence audiences had over architectural design by looking at the restoration of the Royal Court and Hackney Empire.

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When: 29th Jan - 12th Feb
Phone: 020 8693 5254
Where: Dulwich Picture Gallery
Cost: £30
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