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    What remains to talk about? Human bodies on display

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 24 July 2014

    I’ve recently returned from holiday in Cascais, near Lisbon in Portugal, which was for the most part a fairly relaxing break. For the most part. There was the small matter of a rather lengthy complaint furiously scribbled into a comments book at one particular museum we visited and my husband being subjected to an in-depth critique of ethical museum display practice – for several hours. So what got me so agitated? The display of three mummies: two Peruvian and one Egyptian in the Museu Aqueológico do Carmo, Lisbon.

    All blue skies?

    All blue skies? Outside the Museu Aqueológico do Carmo, Lisbon.

    (more…)

    Museums on Prescription project will explore the role of museums in social prescribing

    By Helen J Chatterjee, on 23 June 2014

    In July 2014 at UCL we will begin a new 3 year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to explore the value and role of museums in social prescribing.

    Social prescribing links patients in primary care with local sources of support within the community which can improve their health and wellbeing. ‘Museums on Prescription’, or MoP as we affectionately call the project, is the first of its kind internationally, and will research the development and efficacy of a novel referral scheme. The project will connect socially isolated, vulnerable and lonely older people, referred through the NHS, Local Authority Adult Social Care services and charities, to partner museums in Central London and Kent.

    (more…)

    Pottery Project Guest Blog: Trade in Opium from Cyprus to Egypt

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 30 May 2014

    Guest Blog by Valentina Gasperini

    In our sixth in the series of different perspectives on Egyptian potteryValentina Gasperini, a post-doctoral reseracher at the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology University of Liverpool, looks at a Cypriote pottery vessel found in Egypt.

    As a ceramicist interested in trade and exchange, particularly at the site of Gurob (located at the entrance to the Fayum region), I would like to present a Cypriot juglet found there during Dynasty 18 (c. 1550–1292 BC) and currently located in the Petrie Museum. This vessel can be studied from a variety of viewpoints and it provides important clues about chronology, social needs and changes in fashion.

    UC13441 was found at Gurob, most probably during the Brunton and Engelbach archaeological campaign of 1920. When dealing with these early excavations the job of a ceramicist often becomes like that of a detective. By cross-examining the excavation reports and a series of clues, I have been able to trace the original context of discovery of this item: Gurob tomb 603.

    A well-travelled pottery vessel currently in the Petrie Museum, London, excavated in Egypt, but made in Cyprus more than 3000 years ago.

    A well-travelled pottery vessel currently in the Petrie Museum, London, excavated in Egypt, but made in Cyprus more than 3000 years ago.

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    UCL Festival of the Arts and the Science Collections

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 16 May 2014

    In the last week of May, UCL will be hosting its second ever Festival of the Arts. It’s a four-day free festival aimed at showing off some of the wonderful work going on at UCL. And I am very pleased that three very different types of collections I help to look after will be featuring in three different events.

    So here’s a bit more about them…

    The first event I am helping out with is one of the first of the whole festival – ‘From Phantasmagoria to Science!

    A Fleming Magic Lantern Slide - Views of Saturn

    A Fleming Magic
    Lantern Slide -
    Views of Saturn

    A Fleming Magic Lantern Slide - A Human Eye

    A Fleming Magic
    Lantern Slide -
    A Human Eye

    A Fleming Magic Lantern Slide - The Moon

    A Fleming Magic
    Lantern Slide -
    The Moon

    (more…)

    Pottery Project guest Blog: Pottery on the move.

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 15 April 2014

    Guest blog by Margaret Serpico

    In our fifth in the series on different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Mararet Serpico, Curator of Virtual Resources at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, looks at the topic of transporting commodities.

    I never cease to be amazed by the lengths ancient Egyptians and their neighbours went to transport goods back and forth to each other around the Mediterranean. Especially when it involved moving small, delicate pottery containers or, alternatively, large pottery storage jars (which even empty weigh a lot!) over great distances. We are lucky in the Petrie Museum to have a number of these large jars in the collection. Not only did they make it around the Mediterranean, but they also made it here to England.

    Example of a Canaanite amphora. Preserved height, 55.0 cm.

    Example of a large, 55 cm-tall Canaanite amphora in the  Petrie Museum.

    (more…)

    Introducing the Touching Heritage volunteer blog

    By Nicholas Vogelpoel, on 26 November 2012

    I am not sure that I will ever look at a piece of opal the same way again, after a patient at UCLH told me that the piece they were holding reminded them of jellied eel. Apparently, the opal looked, felt and even smelled like a slithery, slimy eel. I’ve heard of flint axe heads that look like poached flathead, amazonite that feels like soap and, eerie faces hidden in the sides of smoky quartz. But, this obviously takes things to a new level.

    Jellied eel anyone? Delicious.

    Touching objects from UCL’s collections seems to ignite all sorts of stories and memories. Patients at UCLH are genuinely excited to see my team of volunteers, with their ‘very useful boxes’ brimming with wondrous, weird and beautiful objects. For me, it is all about the conversations. I’ve met people from all sorts of places, with all sorts of pasts. Every now and again, I meet a real-life expert, and the information cards I have created for the objects pale in comparison to their wealth of knowledge. Never mess with an archaeologist, I guess.

    As part of the project, the Touching Heritage programme has a volunteer-led blog, where volunteers working on the project will upload regular posts about their experiences. To find out more about the project and to read the latest blog entries, jump in and see just how the UCL museums are working to improve community health and wellbeing.

    Most people we meet in the hospitals, care homes and community health settings we are working in rarely go to museums, and are often bored, tired and unwell. The amazing team of volunteers working on the Touching Heritage project bring their energy and enthusiasm to each participant, and the object-handling sessions notably lift spirits, relieve boredom, and always spark the most unusual conversations.