Welcome to the Museum of Swimming

KIM Museum Icebreaker

Welcome to the Museum of Swimming. This new blog focussing on the junction of art, museums and swimming has moved in and replaced the former Stanley and Friends blog I wrote for my nephew.

This blog began as an Icebreaker exercise on a volunteer training day with Kids in Museums. I began volunteering with Kids in Museums this year, and to jumpstart the experience I was invited to their spring training session. Upon arrival we were presented with paper and coloured pencils and asked, in a word, to create the museum of our dreams to present to our peers seated around the table. What a daunting task.

Having recently encountered several curious images on the theme of swimming, being an obsessive swimming and lover of art, the idea for The Museum of Swimming was born.

My chicken-scratch prototype is posted above. It includes a gallery of images, illustrations and paintings on loan; I envisioned Seurat’s Bather’s at Asnieres, a 16th century illustration entitled ‘An Introduction for to learne to swimme’ I encountered at the British Library, and a page on ‘Natation’ from a 1950’s Larousse Dictionnaire francaise I found at a second hand shop in Hanwell, London. I envision the gallery would also include poetry and other art forms like Busby Berkeley’s films, to get folks into swimming.



The Museum would also include an aquatic centre with an Olympic 50 metre indoor swimming pool, an outdoor 50 metre lido, a recreation pool for children, an area for lessons and demonstrations (try different strokes, improver and taster sessions for all ages), cafĂ©, a gallery about health and well being, an outdoor park, artists’ installations, testimonials from swimmers from all walks of life, a gallery of water in culture to discuss things like the symbolism of bathing and baptism, and gallery of ‘your questions answered’ like “How do you poop during a Channel swim?” or “What do I need to take in my swimming bag when going to the pool with my toddlers?” and of course community engagement to keep the space relevant, including satellite outreach activities in the community.

With my prototype in mind, I welcome you to take a dip, swim or dive at this evolving, virtual Museum of Swimming where I will share art and images, news items, musings, histories and anything else related to the culture of swimming. Bienvenue!


Easter Weekend

Stanley had an amazing Easter weekend, not least because he got to eat his fair share of chocolate and other goodies, but because he also got to go on the tube! The tube is London’s underground rail system, the oldest in Europe and the first in the world which opened in 1863. Stanley got to ride the Central Line and the Victoria Line, getting off at Finsbury Park which is also home to Arsenal, a popular British football team.Image That would be football, as in the American game soccer. Which highlights another interesting point in Stanley’s outing on Saturday. He went to a housewarming party and met lots of people: British, American, Slovenian, French, and Greek. In the video, you can hear Foteini, Miranda’s friend say “Hello Stanley” in Greek.

There are lots of different nationalities of people living in London and over 300 different languages spoken here too! That means there are probably a lot of people here. In Stuart, there is a population of nearly 1700. In London, the population is over 8 million. That’s like squeezing 5000 x Stuart, Iowas into one place. It also means there is less space for each person that lives here, which is why lots of people share houses and flats (a flat means an apartment in the UK). Which is why Stanley went to the housewarming on Saturday, to celebrate a friend moving into a new flat with a really nice new roommate.


One thing that everyone found really perplexing was Stanley’s outfit. What was he wearing? An astronaut uniform? Remi figured out that Stanley came in a Patriot’s uniform, as in American football team garb. Which is strange to see in the UK because American football is not very popular and you don’t see many folks out wearing American football jerseys. Most kids don’t even play it, and you definitely don’t have high school or college football here.It’s all about soccer! (Or football, depending on where you are from).


Stanley got his picture taken at Oxford Circus (that’s a very busy underground station near lots of shops) and he even got a picture with an interesting poster advising people not to throw their trash on the tube tracks. He liked how he was nearly the same size as the little man throwing his litter away. Stanley had a full weekend and met lots of nice people. This morning he went swimming with both Remi and Miranda (he got to ride the bus!), and this week he gets to go to school with Remi, so watch this space!



Out to eat


After chilling out for a while, Remi came home and everyone went out for dinner. It was last day of school before the Easter holidays so it was a special occasion. Everyone went to eat at the local Italian and Stanley even got his photo with the owner! On the way home he walked by the nearby underground station and got really excited about taking public transport, which he decided would be the next adventure.

The Dave Brubeck QuartetChilling on the sofa

When Stanley got home he was glad to rest on the sofa. Miranda turned on some Dave Brubeck on the stereo. Do you like Dave Brubeck? Click on the link above and listen.

Busy afternoon

After the first glue treatment, it was time to cut Stanley out. He was tired of laying down and was ready to get active. He had a big afternoon ahead of him. He was going to go outside and ride a bike!
After the first glue treatment, it was time to cut Stanley out. He was tired of laying down and was ready to get active. He had a big afternoon ahead of him. He was going to go outside and ride a bike!
After being cut out Stanley had one more glue treatment to make him waterproof. He forgot that in England it rains a lot. Miranda wanted to make sure that no matter the weather, Stanley was ready for action. He German teacher once passed on the wisdom that “there is no bad weather, just bad clothes.” Stanley agreed. After the second glue treatment on both front and back, Stanley was ready to go. But first, lunch!
Coucous and coffee
As Miranda was going swimming, and Stanley was her guest, they ate the same lunch. Stanley had never before had coucous and never had coffee. He liked both a lot. The coucous had different nuts (pistacios, walnuts, brazil, and pecans) dried fruit, tuna and pumpkin oil. He really liked the pumpkin oil, it was kind of greenish and sweet. It was something he had never tried at home. He asked, “Where’d you get it?” Miranda said, “Sainsbury’s.” Stanley asked, “What’s Sainsbury’s?” Miranda replied, “It’s the grocery store. We’ll go sometime during your visit. It’ll remind you a little of Hy-Vee.”
Pandoro: Italian sponge cake
After the couscous, Staney at some sponge cake. It was sweet, and would have been nicer with strawberries. What else do you think would be nice to have with it?
The bike
After lunch, Miranda and Stanley got on her bike and cycled to the pool. Miranda had a long swim to do. Good thing Stanley brought a book! What do you think he read?
The sports centre
They entered the sports centre, saying “Hello” to the staff. Everyone was very friendly. Stanley even got to meet a real lifeguard who had a funny accent. Stanley noticed that British people speak differently than Americans do. He decided each night before bed he would practice saying “Hello, my name is Stanley” in a British accent. How about you try?
Stanley made himself comfy with a nice cool bottle of water and sat in the waiting area with his book while Miranda swam 5 kilometers. How long is 5 kilometers? Well it’s just over 3 miles. That’s about the circumference (the distance around) Stuart, Iowa, if you were to walk all around it. It probably would take less time to walk than to swim. It took two hours and Stanley was glad he brought two books, one for each hour. After the swim, they went home to wait for uncle Remi.

Stanley gets sturdy

Stanley gets top treatment in the kitchen on his first morning at uncle Remi’s and aunt Miranda’s. So he can do some real sightseeing, Miranda has pasted Stanley onto some mountboard.

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