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    Re-Launch of UCL Art Museum HQ

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 28 May 2015

    UCL Art Museum Re-Launch Private ViewIt’s been an exciting few months for UCL Art Museum’s HQ with the completion of reburbishment work and the opening of our Re-Launch summer exhibition. Our main space may sit on a footprint that is just short of that of half a tennis court but for a space so small we have big ambitions and a wide reach. The room is designed on the model of a traditional Print Room with over 8,000 works on paper carefully stored in our cabinets, the earliest dating back to 1470’s and works are right up to the present day with Slade school of art prize winners being added, making our collection alive and current. We’re a little gem of a collection, hidden away to the right of the main portico in Wilkin’s neoclassical main building. The aim of the re-furbishment was to shine a light on this gem of a space collection and make it more accessible and practical to use for our audience, improve our teaching and research facilities and enable us to welcome more people into the Art Museum. A lot of the re-burbishement is invisible; electrical wiring behind walls and under floor boards, new security measures, improved use of space and some new lighting to show off our beautiful flaxman plasters.

    Janne Malmros' work The Hunt on paper

    The Hunt (with Origin of the Species), Janne Malmros, 2015

    At the same time as re-opening the space we launched our summer exhibition Re-Launch. This exhibition presents a selection of objects, prints and video made in response to our collections and the theme of re-launch. Its contributors hail from the Slade School of Fine Art and have participated as students in our celebrated annual Slade/UCL Art Museum collaborations over the course of the past six years. The exhibition’s run is from 27 April-12 June, Mon-Fri, 1pm-5pm.

    Participating artists in the exhibition are; Ian Giles, Jonathan Kipps, Katja Larsson, Nadine Mahoney, Julia McKinlay, Milou van der Maaden,Janne Malmros, Kate Keara Pelen, Cyrus Shroff, Printers’ Symphony

    UCL Art Museum Re-Launch exhibition

    Column, Jonathan Kipps, 2015

    UCL Art Musuem Re-Launch

    Another More Extended Sleight-of-hand, Cyrus Shroff, 2015

    We had over 400 people come to our Private View events in April and May and it was wonderful to welcome artists, supporters, students, colleagues, art professionals and academics to celebrate and share in our achievements with us. You can see more photos from the events on UCL News Flickr. Since opening we’ve had 1,300 people come and see the exhibition and have been getting lots of really positive comments back.

    Re-Launch exhibition Private View

    UCL Art Museum Re-Launch exhibition Private View

    As part of the public programme accompanying Re-Launch we have run a number of events including a lunchtime talk with artist Nadine Mahoney on 12 May about her work Once More with Feeling, included in the exhibition. She also talked about how she’d taken inspiration from the collection by taking on the daunting task of looking at every single portrait we have, paying particular interest to those portraits where the sitter is anonymous.

    UCL Art Museum Relaunch Private View

    Once More with Feeling, Nadine Mahoney, 2015

    We also worked in partnership with Zabludowicz Collection on a two day symposium Collecting the Emerging, which involved academics, curators, collectors and artists coming together to examine issues around collecting new and experimental art and what it means to be an emerging artist. It was a fascinating few days with over 200 people in attendance, some great speakers and some lively debates covering economic and aesthetic value in the emerging art market; emerging practice and its relationship to historical narratives and collections; and how the current enthusiasm for collecting contemporary art impacts on artists practices that are still at an early stage. Speakers included Edward Allington Professor of Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, Louisa Buck independent critic/Contemporary Art Correspondent, The Art Newspaper, Dr. Ben Cranfield Director, Doctoral Programme in Humanities and Cultural Studies, School of Arts, Birkbeck and Sarah Thelwall Creative and Cultural Industries Strategist amongst others. Dr Tim Vermuelen, Assistant Professor in Cultural Studies and Theory at the University of Nijmegen gave the key note speech with highlights including anaologies of the art market being like the film Finding Nemo; in the sense that we’re all swimming in our own specific waters and this affects how we behave as artists, collectors, art professionals, to discussions around Nirvana, Tony Blair, consumeriam and the cultural state of the 1990’s compared to now, creating a comparison with our current cultural experience.

    Collecting the Emerging SymposiumOn the Friday evening we went to Zabludowicz Collection to have a guided tour of their 20 Years exhibition and to experience an amazing performance piece by artist Laura Buckley, commissioned especially for the symposium. Throughout the symposium, the conversations ranged from the academic, theoretical, philosophical, commercial to the very practical ways in which emerging artists can survice and keep their practice going. We were delighted to be able to partner with Zabludowicz Collection on this and hope that this will just be the start of a continuing relationship with them and a chance for us to programme similar events and collaborations where the Art Museum initates, hosts and engages in issues around contemporary art supported by a historical and collections based background of research and experience.

    Jenny Wedgbury is Learning and Access Officer for UCL Art Museum

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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


    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.


    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.