Taking Liberties at the British Library

takingliberties21A few weeks ago Lou and I visited the Taking Liberties exhibition at the British Library. At first glance it looks a little boring – lots of documents in glass cases, but once you get in its fascinating. The exhibition charts 900 years of civil liberties in the UK, from the Magna Carta to the abolition of slavery, the suffragettes to the current government’s new terrorism laws.

The curators have also added interactive booths where you can voice your own opinion on a variety of issues, and then compare your views with those of other visitors. Should gay marriage be legalised? Should the voting age be lowered to 16?  Fascinating to see where people stand on these things, how voting is very liberal on some issues and conservative on others, depending on our society’s current fears.

Seeing how our liberties have come to us a step at a time, through the energy of so many different movements, and the sacrifice of so many passionate people, was really eye opening. It also made me stop and think about those places where civil rights do not exist, and how easily they can be eroded. It’s all so easily taken for granted, and I came out of the exhibition profoundly grateful, and very angry.

It runs until the 1st of March, and it’s free to get in. If you’re in London or passing through (it’s right by King’s Cross, so you might be), it’s well worth an afternoon.

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