By Edmund Connolly, on 7 March 2014
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Archive for the 'Cross-collections' Category
By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 19 February 2014
After a few drinks last weekend, my sister, who is doing a Ph.D at a ‘different’ university, and I got in to a friendly ‘my horse is bigger than your horse’. I gloated that UCL has tentacles that reach around the world, is ranked within the top four universities within the UK, and most importantly (because this is how I measure university performance) we have several Nobel Prizes. Well as it turns out, so does her university, but the important thing is that we have more.
Although the conversation was entirely (ok, mostly) in jest, it made me curious as to how justified my claims of ‘having a bigger horse’ actually were and I set about some googling. As luck would have it, even after calibrating the data for variables such as my university is around 130 odd years older than hers, and also taking into consideration the fact that the Nobel Prize only began in 1901 whereas we were founded in 1827, UCL are still higher achievers. Mwah hah hah. According to the website www.nobelprize.org, there have been 487 Nobel Prizes given out worldwide since its inception. Well let me hear an ‘oooo’ for the fact that 21 of those belong to us. As in UCL, not my sister and myself. (more…)
By Alice M Salmon, on 31 January 2014
This Wednesday, 29 January, UCL Museums and Collections, and UCL Library Special Collections, teamed up with the literary charity First Story to deliver our annual creative writing event. Around 90 students from local London secondary schools spent the afternoon exploring and writing about our collections.
Events like these remind me of how lucky I am to work as an educator in museums. As museum professionals, we spend a long time thinking about how to tell stories (stories of our museums, stories of our collections, stories of our objects, stories of the people that owned said objects, etc, etc…I could go on) but it is so refreshing to hand the role of the storyteller over to students, who can provide us with a totally fresh take on the collections we know so well. The results were, quite simply, fantastic. Below is just one example of the quality of work produced from the visit:
Jack Isaaz –La Grotteri, from King Solomon Academy, was inspired to think about his heaven and hell through working with the UCL Library Special Collections and, in particular, by Botticelli’s illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy:
For it is All that I Need
Sensations seldom felt grip the air.
More stains of darker, saturated hues. But still
All feels grey. Unlike once before, the silence
Is now silent: sounds of death, dead
Vibrations permeate the dust that you hear
And breathe. I can’t bear the nothing that
I never had. You don’t see for there is nothing
She smiles again once more, though not one thing
Could ever make one forget such a sight.
The sun shines on the clouds and as it should,
It does not shine on us. We are left with
The fray of the familiar. The cold that embraces us is
No foe, cooling our skin with its inviting breath.
I imagine the park adjacent to the grass where I
Lay down gazing at nothing because it is nothing that
I’ve become accustomed to. The fun nothings I need.
Raindrops now, stain the tar that bleaches the roads I’ve
Walked upon my entire life. The buildings are calmed
As their shadows find homes with the darkening
Surface. There is no need for thought or speech for
All is as it should be. I imagine
Jack Isaaz –La Grotteri, King Solomon Academy
To find out more about the work that First Story do you can visit their website: http://www.firststory.org.uk/
Alice Salmon is a Senior Access Officer in the Access and Learning Team for UCL’s Museums and Public Engagement Department.
By Nicholas J Booth, on 17 December 2013
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that I get to work with many different departments from across UCL. I meet people from a wide range of backgrounds and get to do some pretty interesting stuff with them. And of course being a curator I get to work with collections as well, which is in my opinion the best thing about working in museums.
In the last few months I have had the good fortune to visit the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL). A part of UCL that very few people get to see, staffed by people who are extremely passionate about their jobs, and housing a whole new collection of objects that I didn’t know existed.
The MSSL was opened in 1967, and is the largest university space research group in the UK. Not only that but its early date marks it as one of the earliest such centres in the world, and makes it an important part of the early history of the British Space Programme, now known as the UK Space Agency (yes we really do have one of those). The lab is located near (more…)
By Rachael Sparks, on 12 November 2013
Last week, I attended a Collections Trust training event aimed at developing my managerial skills. It was a slick, well-run affair, which I enjoyed despite being in the throes of a terrible cold.
Now I’m a bit of a training junkie, and go to a lot of these sorts of things. Past highlights of my training calendar include courses on dealing with contentious subjects, museum mount-making, digital photography, and record and archive management, not to mention away days visiting countless museums I’d never previously heard of.
Something of a gestalt has developed out of all this, and I think I’m beginning to see a pattern emerging in the culture that is the museum workshop event. So here’s my take on the five key ways in which training works for the museum sector, and makes us better and happier employees. (more…)
By Nicholas J Booth, on 25 October 2013
Sir William Ramsay was arguably one of the most famous scientists of his day. Between 1894 and 1898 he discovered five new elements – helium, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon; commonly known today as the noble gases. Not only was this impressive in itself, but these new elements did not fit onto the periodic table as it existed at that time. This led to Ramsay adding a whole new group to the periodic table. In 1904 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences chose to award Ramsay the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, for his discovery of the noble gases. He was the first British person to win this prize.
2013 marks 100 years since the retirement of Sir William Ramsay from his post as Head of Chemistry at UCL. To mark this UCL Chemistry Collection will be taking part in a very special pop-up exhibition in the Rock Room, UCL’s Geology Museum.
Between 12.30 – 3pm on November 1st a range of objects relating to Ramsay and his work will be on display. I have picked out a few of my personal favourites…
By Alice M Salmon, on 25 October 2013
I am going to start this blog off by openly admitting that I am breaking social media convention by blogging about an event that took place nine months ago. *audible gasps*. Yes, I do really mean nine months ago. However, there is good reason for this. In February this year, UCL’s Museums and Collections, and the Library Special Collections, worked in collaboration with the UCL English Department and literary charity First Story, to deliver a creative writing day for 100 students from local non selective secondary schools. Today, the schools’ poetry anthologies have landed on my desk and they are definitely worth blogging about.(more…)
By Helen J Chatterjee, on 17 October 2013
There are now lots of examples of museums offering activities and programmes geared towards improving their audience’s health and wellbeing. From creative arts and museum object handling sessions through to talks, tours and knitting groups, museums offer a diverse array of ‘healthy’ activities. But what is the real impact of such activities on individual’s health and wellbeing?
Guy Noble from University College London Hospital and I have been collating, reviewing and analysing hundreds of projects, reports, publications and other evidence in our new book Museums, Health and Well-being, to find out if museums really can make you happier and healthier. The results are startling and impressive.
There is substantial anecdotal evidence regarding the value of museums-in-health, a new term coined in the book, and when considered along with the scholarly evidence it appears that museums benefit health and wellbeing in lots of ways, by providing: (more…)
By Rachael Sparks, on 8 October 2013
On September 18th, UCL Museums and Collections participated in a worldwide event on Twitter: Ask a Curator day. The plan was to have a handful of curators on call to deal with questions as they flooded in from a curious public. The reality was that we didn’t have many queries sent directly to our feed, so we went out into the Twittersphere to seek out interesting questions to answer. As Keeper of the Institute of Archaeology Collections, I spent an hour manning the virtual desk, and found it an interesting experience. (more…)
By Nicholas J Booth, on 18 September 2013
People often ask me what it is I do for a job. “Well” I answer, “I’m a curator”.
“Yes, but what do you actually do?”
“I curate a collection, I help look after it”.
“Yes but what do you ACTUALLY do all day?”
It’s a good question, and one to which the answer is never really that simple. What I ‘actually do’ varies from week to week, and depends upon what I have to do, what I need to do, and what I have time to do. So I thought I would write a blog as a way of answering.
Last week I made a point of recording exactly what I was up to between Monday and Friday, and tried to take a few more photos that I would normally. I should say that I did not particularly plan for this week to be one I blogged about, and I resisted the urge to book in lots of important sounding meetings. I had planned to use a stepometer during the week, to see how far I walked, but sadly couldn’t get my hands on one in time.
So, my week…