I know the British Library is an august institution of which we should all be proud, not least now it’s housed in shiny blandness at St Pancras. I also know that magna carta did not die in vain I also also know that this photo taken in 2007 (see large here) is potentially illegal thanks to yet another civil liberty encroaching law.
But more importantly I know that Taking Liberties is a tedious waste of space. Draining the life out of any discussion of civil liberties by showing a procession of documents but without really explaining any of the controversy or fights surrounding them. There’s too much here as well – covering centuries without useful contexts and wrapping it all in interactive votes designed to make you feel you have an opinion that counts — the answers to the questions, multiple choice, are themselves essay length so only the worthy will respond.
Only at the very, very end with a small exhibit about ‘free speech versus causing offence’ does it begin to feel challenging, thought provoking even. But the display focuses on the Oz trial without a dodgy Danish cartoon in sight – the safe option is taken and steady boredom maintained.