Hundreds of museums and art galleries across Europe took part in Twitter’s first “Museum Week” event this week and to celebrate its success, I thought I’d devote an edition of Lara’s Travels to some of the museums Lara Croft visits or mentions in the Tomb Raider games.
1) Louvre Museum, Paris
One of Lara’s most memorable museum visits is her after-hours escapade in the Louvre Museum, Paris, in Angel of Darkness. The Louvre Palace has a long, rich history that stretches all the way back to the late 12th century. Today, it is one of the largest and most visited art museums in the world.
Visitors to the Louvre will be able to see some of the world’s greatest works of art, such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. It is also home to the Zodiac of Dendera and one of the world’s largest collections of Ancient Egyptian antiquities. With eight curatorial departments and thousands of items on display, anyone planning a visit to the Louvre should allow several hours to explore its galleries.
And while you won’t find any real-life Tombs of the Ancients hidden beneath the museum, you will find remnants of the Louvre’s original medieval fortress walls down in the basement.
You can find more information about the Louvre and its collection on its official website.
2) Natural History Museum, London
Renowned for its earth and life sciences exhibits, London’s Natural History Museum may seem a little out of place on this list. Or does it?
In Tomb Raider 3, Lara is tasked with retrieving some embalming fluid from the Natural History Museum. The British Museum may seem like the more logical place for an Egyptology exhibit but the Natural History Museum does actually have an impressive number of Ancient Egyptian animal mummies within its research collections. It has also held an exhibition on animal mummies at its sister museum in Tring, Hertfordshire, back in 2005. Furthermore, the museum hosted the launch party for Tomb Raider 3 back in October 1998.
So a Tomb Raider level set in the Natural History Museum wasn’t as unlikely as it seems.
That said, if you’re looking for ancient artefacts, you should definitely look elsewhere. But if dinosaurs, geology, and zoology are your thing, a visit to the Natural History Museum is an absolute must.
One of the museum’s iconic exhibits is its Diplodocus skeleton cast, “Dippy”, which greets and towers over visitors to the museum’s cathedral-like Central Hall. The rest of the museum is divided into four thematic zones: the Red Zone (earth sciences), the Green Zone (ecology and environment), the Blue Zone (dinosaurs and mammals) and the Orange Zone, which is home to the Darwin Centre and the museum’s beautiful Wildlife Garden.
For more information about the Natural History Museum’s collections and opening hours, visit its website.
3) British Museum, London
If you’re interested in archaeology and ancient history, no visit to the English capital would be complete without a visit to the world-renowned British Museum in Bloomsbury. Unlike the two aforementioned museums, there are no levels set in the British Museum but it is mentioned by name in the final cut scene of Tomb Raider: Legend.
Update: Fans of the Dark Horse Tomb Raider comic series will also know that Lara has recently taken up a job at the museum and apparently uses the museum’s galleries as a makeshift parkour course (see issue #13). Naughty, naughty.
Established in 1753, the museum attracted over 6.7 million visitors in 2013 alone and it’s not hard to see why. With thousands of items on display across 90-odd rooms, you’d probably need several days to see everything the museum has to offer. Among the items on display are the famous Rosetta Stone, which was invaluable in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs; the controversial but beautiful Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles; a double-headed Aztec serpent; and the Gayer-Anderson cat statue.
And if you can’t make it to the museum, the British Museum has an extensive online database with new images and records added every week. It also offers a variety of online educational resources for all ages, including its immensely popular 100-part series A History of the World in 100 Objects.
More information about the museum’s collections and services can be found on the official British Museum website.
4) Professor Worth’s King Arthur Museum, England
Unlike the other museums on this list, Professor Worth’s King Arthur Museum is entirely fictional. Lara pays a visit to this derelict museum in Cornwall in Tomb Raider: Legend in a bid to find King Arthur’s tomb and discover the truth about Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table.
The legends surrounding this fabled leader have spawned numerous Arthurian-themed tourist attractions throughout England and Wales. These include King Arthur’s Great Halls in Tintagel, which was built by the millionaire Frederick Glassock in the 1930s. This tourist attraction attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to learn more about Arthurian legends and marvel at the halls’ beautiful stained glass windows, granite throne, and Round Table.
Another popular attraction is the Arthurian Centre at Slaughterbridge, thought to be the site of King Arthur’s final battle with the treacherous Mordred. No visit to the Centre would be complete without a visit to its “Land of Arthur” exhibition, a unique collection of photographs, texts, and works of art which attempts to recount the deeds of the legendary king alongside historical fact.
Note: This article only covers the museums she had visited prior to the 2013 reboot and its subsequent sequels and spin-off media, so any museum visits or references made after the 2013 game haven’t been listed here. I haven’t had the chance to update this article much since publication due to a lack of free time and the need to prioritise the creation of new content.
Have you visited any of the museums listed above? Feel free to share your museum memories with fellow Tomb Raider fans by leaving your comments below!