New light exhibition could transform ‘London’s worst tourist attraction’

By Jacob Phillips, local democracy reporter

It began as London’s worst tourist attraction with plants dropping dead from its side within hours.

But now the £6 million Marble Arch Mound could be joining the 02 Arena and London Eye as one of London’s underdog tourist spots that shakes it’s infamous image – thanks to its new light exhibition.

While Londoners and tourists initially rushed to the Marble Arch Mound to see how poor it is for themselves, the latest figures from Westminster City Council show 114,000 people had been up the mound as of September 28.

The pop-up attraction has even become a viral sensation thanks to its spectacular art exhibition which has been compared to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s Tate exhibition.

London vlogger Georgie Davies, whose TikTok of the mound’s art exhibition has been liked over 100,000 times, said: “I ran up that mound. I had a look at the view – you can’t see anything- and I ran down the stairs.

“I spent 30 minutes in the exhibition. It’s really calming and you can walk up to these huge orbs. I loved it.

“I think if you really don’t like the mound you can just go through.”

Still, the mound is not up to everyone’s taste. One person commented on Georgie’s video: “At least if you’re inside that godforsaken hill then you can’t see it.”

But the increased number of visitors to the pop-up attraction shows that it may fall into a unique group of slated tourist attractions that have won back public favour.

The Marble Arch Mound

The mound is not the first London tourist attraction to face a horror show first few days.

The scenes of plants dropping dead of the mound as it was pelted with rain may remind you of a certain white elephant.

On its opening night in 2007, the Millennial Dome – now the O2 Arena – saw thousands of VIPs queuing for hours in the cold for security checks at Stratford Underground station.

Boris Johnson, a Daily Telegraph columnist at the time, dubbed the dome as one of the worst attractions he had seen.

He wrote: “You could blow it up. There must be some form of public humiliation.

“I’d like to see all those responsible for the contents of the dome eating humble pie.”

Similarly, Stephen Bayley, who helped found the Design Museum called the dome “extravagant uselessness” – yet in 2017 it became the biggest selling music venue in the world with over 1.4 million tickets sold.

Another famously temporary attraction was also initially criticised. Just two years after it was put up there were calls for the London Eye to be moved to Crystal Palace.

Unfortunately, the Marble Arch Mound’s chances of becoming permanent are limited and many questions remain about its price tag.

Westminster Labour staged a protest outside the mound asking for it to be “put out of its misery” – dubbing it an “international laughing stock”.

In contrast, Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan has defended the mound as a “cult classic” – despite it being £4 million over budget and ex-deputy leader Melvyn Caplan having to resign following the project’s catastrophic overspend.

The Marble Arch Mound will remain free until February and the light gallery will remain in place inside.



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