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  • Archive for February, 2014

    Pottery Project Guest Blog: Biography of an Egyptian Pilgrim Flask

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 28 February 2014

    Guest Blog by Loretta Kilroe

    In the first of our series of different perspectives on Egyptian pottery, graduate student Loretta Kilroe looks at pots she is hoping to devote 3 years of doctoral study to.

    I’m currently researching pilgrim flasks – vessels with a lentoid body, narrow neck, and two handles for suspension. These striking pots first appear in New Kingdom Egypt (c.1550–1069BC). They were originally traded from the Levant, but soon enthusiastically adopted into the traditional repertoire and made by Egyptian potters themselves. One beautifully-preserved flask in the Petrie Museum particularly caught my eye, UC66492.

    Ancient Egyptian pilgrim flask

    A object of intrigue: an ancient Egyptian pilgrim flask

    (more…)

    Underwhelming fossil fish of the month: February 2014

    By Mark Carnall, on 28 February 2014

    It’s often said that seasons come and seasons go but fossil fish are forever*. However, sadly this isn’t as robust as it is commonly believed. Fossil fish, like Hollywood stars and small children need attention and that’s what this entire series is about, turning the spotlight on the nearly-made-its, the also-rans and the generally undistinctive. The mediocre, normal shaped and average sized. The fossil fish consigned to museum drawers and storerooms, their ‘heyday’ 100-odd years ago, consisting of a dry description in an obscure journal by a palaeontologist. Shed no tears for them for they are but rock. They shall go on to the end. You can find them in France, you can find them under the seas and oceans. You can find them on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets,  in the hills; they shall never surrender. Here is yet another, especially underwhelming fossil fish of the month.
    (more…)

    Reflections on Time-Based Media Exhibition at UCL Art Museum

    By Helen R Cobby, on 27 February 2014

    1 – 5pm Monday to Friday, until Friday 28th March

    I am unique and so is everyone else (video still)This exhibition gathers together some of the most prolific time-based work from UCL Art Museum’s growing collection, which centre around the dependence upon and manipulation of technology with respect to time. The artists exhibiting are graduates from the Slade School and have each been awarded the annual William Coldstream Memorial Prize that selects outstanding achievements over the whole academic year. This accounts for the diverse collections of artwork on display, illustrating the eclectic variety of contemporary time-based media works.

    It is a refreshing and new type of exhibition for the UCL Art Museum, completely immersed in technology, conceptual installations and time-based media techniques. You will be greeted by many television screens that allow for a sense of unity to the works and for you to make comparisons between the way some of the themes are expressed. The screens are also placed with enough distance for each piece to be absorbed in contemplative isolation. Intriguing sounds also drift around the gallery, enticing you to follow your senses and discover and explore their source.  (more…)

    Human Evolution – The Story Of Us

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 27 February 2014

    Ever wanted to meet your ancestor?

    Ever wanted to meet your ancestor?

    On Friday 7th March the Rock Room (1st Floor Corridor, South Wing, UCL) will host a special pop-up exhibition featuring rarely seen objects from UCL’s Biological Anthropology Collection, and in particular their collection of early hominin fossil casts.

    UCL’s Biological Anthropology Collection is held by (unsurprisingly) the Biological Anthropology Section of the Anthropology Department. Biological anthropology focuses on the study of primate ecology and evolution, including the study of human evolution.

    In order to study and teach these subjects the department has built up a wonderful collection of over 2,000 bones, casts of bones and fossils, ancient tools and other types of objects (which I like to think of as ‘misc’). These are stored in the department and heavily used in teaching, helping students to bring the subject (back) to life.

    (more…)

    On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Weldon Years

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 27 February 2014

    ‘The Thirteen’

    The collection of specimens, known since 1997 as the Grant Museum of Zoology, was started in 1827 by Robert E. Grant. Grant was the first professor of zoology at UCL when it opened, then called the University of London, and he stayed in post until his death in 1874. The collections have seen a total of 13 academics in the lineage of collections care throughout the 187 year history of the Grant Museum, from Robert E. Grant himself, through to our current Curator Mark Carnall.

    Both Grant and many of his successors have expanded the collections according to their own interests, which makes for a fascinating historical account of the development of the Museums’ collections. This mini-series will look at each of The Thirteen in turn, starting with Grant himself, and giving examples where possible, of specimens that can be traced back to their time at UCL. Previous editions can be found here.

    Number Four: Walter Frank Raphael Weldon (1891-1899) (more…)

    A gem of an idea

    By Rachael Sparks, on 26 February 2014

    Dramatically bearded gentleman shows off his classical headgear

    Dramatically bearded gentleman shows off his classical headgear.

    Every collection has its nooks and crannies, and it’s rare for curators to know the full scope of their domain. So every now and again we’ll take a quiet moment to sneak into our stores and explore that neglected corner or unfamiliar drawer, just to see what might be lurking.

    Late last year I was looking for some material for my new conservation volunteers to work on. I’d begun training them in the mysteries of plastazote cutting – that’s making snug little foam housing to hold objects safe – and I wanted some simple starter objects. You know the sort of thing: nice and flat on the underside, so there’s no tricky shaping of the mount to match the curve of the object, and not so fragile that the students get disheartened by accidentally breaking something. We’d already done a batch of cylinder seal impressions (straight rectangular lines, flat as a tack – lovely). But now I wanted to try them on something new.

    So I started to explore the stores in search of inspiration. Here’s what I found: (more…)

    The Art of the Grant

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 25 February 2014

    At the Grant Museum both staff and our visitors are very lucky because we do not have quite the same level of red tape as most non-university based museums. Our collections are historically for teaching only, and even now are still used heavily in undergraduate courses at UCL, which means that physical access to specimens is much more possible than in non-teaching based collections. It is for this reason, as well as the shining personalities of the Grant Museum staff no doubt, that our Museum is extremely popular with artists. The ability to choose a specimen (within reason… the mounted donkey skeleton is a little heavy) and have it placed on the table in front of you for you to gaze at and draw to your heart’s content, is surely nearing unparalleled levels of excitement. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 124

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 24 February 2014

    Nestled between, and rather physically dwarfed by, a cuckoo and a sparrowhawk, this specimen sits is our ‘Taking Flight’ case. That doesn’t mean it’s a bird though, as there are many other types of animals that fly to varying degrees of definitions of the word. Bats, colugos, frogs, squirrels, etc, etc. It’s a beautiful animal and I feel the need to bring it out of the shadows. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    LGBT History Month and Petrie Participation

    By Debbie J Challis, on 20 February 2014

    With the help of Camden LGBT Forum the Petrie Museum held its first LGBT History Month event in 2008; at that time – believe it or not – we were the only museum in Camden to hold a public event. Now February is a vibrant month for all kinds of events in museums and elsewhere exploring sexuality identity and history of expression. This video ‘We’re Going‘ from Camden and Islington LGBT History Month gives a great snapshot – see if you can spot the Petrie Museum! (more…)

    On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Lankester Years

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 20 February 2014

    ‘The Thirteen’

    The collection of specimens, known since 1997 as the Grant Museum of Zoology, was started in 1827 by Robert E. Grant. Grant was the first professor of zoology at UCL when it opened, then called the University of London, and he stayed in post until his death in 1874. The collections have seen a total of 13 academics in the lineage of collections care throughout the 187 year history of the Grant Museum, from Robert E. Grant himself, through to our current Curator Mark Carnall.

    Both Grant and many of his successors have expanded the collections according to their own interests, which makes for a fascinating historical account of the development of the Museums’ collections. This mini-series will look at each of The Thirteen in turn, starting with Grant himself, and giving examples where possible, of specimens that can be traced back to their time at UCL. Previous editions can be found here.

    Number Three: E. Ray Lankester (1875-1891) (more…)