Memories of the Millennium Dome

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At the end of June 2000, I visited the then-called "Millennium Dome", which has now been rebranded as "The O2" and is a popular music and entertainment venue packed full of restaurants and a cinema. The "Millennium Dome" began its life as a project to mark the millennium, similar to the London Eye and Millennium Bridge; unlike the Millennium Bridge (opposite St. Paul's Cathedral), it opened in 2000. The project had funding from the lottery money and housed different scientific and environmental 'zones'. I believe that it tried to be a modern version of the Crystal Palace and State Fair. I'm not sure if there were ever any plans for the dome after 2000, but I do know that they did not wish to dismantle it and tried to find a buyer for a good few years before it became the venue it is today. Overall, the project lost money.


After 2000, the zones were stripped out. Some of it was auctioned off, and other parts went into a landfill. The most iconic and famous piece, "The Body Zone" was mainly sent to a landfill and what could be recycled was recycled. Several years ago and when the venue was kitted out with restaurants and an auditorium, I noticed a last replica of the original interior. They were curving white sculptural benches, and they were located near the middle of where the restaurants and the VIP area are now at. The last time I visited the venue, I did try to find them but could not. I imagine that they eventually got ripped out.

On that day toward the end of June in 2000, I remember my visit to the Millennium Dome. I went with an ex-boyfriend, and I regret that I did not purchase more souvenirs, though I was a student then and money was tight. At the time, I was actually living in Finsbury Park at that time and working in Highbury and Islington for six months on a work exchange programme. I became aware of the exhibition through the news and through my ex-boyfriend mentioning that he would like to visit it. Seventeen years later, and I can see how much London has changed.

As for the souvenirs - I bought a mug or two (one for my father and one for my ex); I remember that my London A-Z (which we carried around before Google maps) had advertising for the Millennium Dome on the backside of it. I remember finding and walking a few steps of the Meridian Line, which is the imaginary point where Greenwich Mean time begins. It was located outside of the structure and near the Thames. I remember the gift shop where I bought a few souvinirs, including the yellow mug. I remember a little bit about the different zones inside.

The interior of the Millennium Dome was organised into several 'zones'. The dome itself acted as a canvas (made of plastic or some other similar material) over the top in order to protect the exhibits, and I remember thinking of how big it all looked and how high the ceiling was. Of course, the most iconic piece was "The Body Zone". This was a large model of two bodies, and the bodies could be entered to see the different areas, such as the stomach, the brain, and the heart. I remember a large beating heart in the middle and then sperm fertilising an egg before we went to the brain area and then out of the zone. We did not have to queue long, and the zone did not take long to go through; I believe it was also self-guided.

The Play Zone featured different games that could be played, and I remember going to look at this but finding it a bit too busy; I remember that this seemed to be more of an area for children but also with a lot of technology and some innovating ideas. I'm not sure if it was in this zone or another one, but there was an exhibit that would scan your face and you could change the filter on it to change your age, race, and gender. I also remember something about looking up other locations of the world to obtain information, but we tried to do this and some of the technology did not seem to work properly. This may have been in The Talk Zone.

The Money Zone let us see one million pounds on display. I also remember that there was a little bit of a queue, and we also saw the diamonds that some gang of robbers tried to rob. This was another of the areas that I do remember pretty well because there was something to see and I found it interesting.

The Relax Zone was very surreal, and I have a lot of memories of this because I found it a little too odd. I remember entering a room; I remember that I had to crawl around. Inside the 'tent' area were other people, and strange noises were being emitted from the zone as well as dimmed colours; it was almost psychadelic. 

One of the highlights was the show; I remember seeing actors dressed up in different costumes where the cinema was. They were entertaining us while we got our seats for the show. The short film "Blackadder Back and Forth" was shown, and this featured the actors from the original television series and a plot that enabled the characters to go back and forward in time. I found it very funny.

I remember that we did not have nearly enough time in order to see everything, but substance felt a little lacking. I understand that it was a very ambitious project and seemed to lack some direction perhaps and was at a time when a lot of uses for technology were being experimented with. Technology and artificial intelligence was fairly new then, and it was really the key to the exhibition, although interacting with technology is not a "material" or tangible item and varies depending on each user's experience. It's also an area that I do not remember too much about, and in some ways, we are further ahead. 

The diamonds, million pounds, body zone, Blackadder film, and the "relaxing" zone were what I remember the most about my day out. I do wish we would have seen the other show with the arobatics and performers as I had heard that it was worth seeing. 

Did you visit the Millennium Dome? What are your memories of it?

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