By Mark Carnall, on 14 December 2011
Number 2 in an occasional series highlighting objects from the stores. The first one is here. Hmmmm, I may need to rethink the title for these posts as after IT STILL COMES FROM THE STORES and IT DIDN’T NOT COME FROM THE STORES it might be hard to come up with the next title.
Just a quick one today reflecting on the kinds of questions that objects provoke curators to ask of the collections they look after. I’ve been working with our documentation assistant on the spirit collection and I found this curious unidentified object:
Here are the questions that first popped into my head. It is round so what round things do we find in nature? Testicles, tumours, echinoderms, eggs, eyes, inflated pufferfish, some stones, animals curled up (trilobites, hedgehogs, woodlice) and various organs. It didn’t look like any of these. On closer inspection and in conference with museum assistant Emma we unanimously decided it was a plum. This finding solicited a new series of questions. Why does the Grant Museum of Zoology have a preserved plum? Who decided to preserve this plum and why? Is this plum perhaps taken from the inside of an animal (including possibly a former curator)? Was this preserved as part of an experiment? Was it perhaps a plum that Charles Darwin or Robert Grant had almost eaten? Was it preserved as a hoax? Dissatisfyingly, we probably won’t find the answers to many of these questions.
About a week later I was struck by the question how did it get in the jar?