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  • On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Mahoney Years

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 3 April 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 Read the rest of this entry »

    11 Museum Blogger Questions for #MuseumWeek

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 1 April 2014

    best-blogI am excited to have been asked to join in the ’11 Museum Blogger Questions’ extravaganza that is currently entertaining museum audiences and professionals (and those who are both) across the web. I was nominated by Jake McGowan-Lowe, author of Jake’s Bones, and you can read his answers here.

    1. Who are you and what do you blog about?

    I have the honour and hard work of being the Curatorial Assistant at the Grant Museum of Zoology. Through the Museum website I write many blogs that can be roughly divided into the fabulous weekly Specimen of the Week and one off blogs that cover a wide range of things from difficult and controversial subjects, through a weird phase of museum pest fascination, for example, to mildly satirical articles with a thin veil of museum research. Read the rest of this entry »

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: March 2014

    By Mark Carnall, on 31 March 2014

    I’ve sectioned the otoliths of 2014 and determined that it is March and there’s just enough time for this month’s underwhelming fossil fish of the month.

    For those of you new to the series, all of which can be found in this link, here’s how I’d introduce the TV series, walking slowly through a museum storeroom, gesticulating wildly and oddly emphasizing words (in caps below) in the way that you only see in science documentaries.

    “Join me, MarK CArnall as I eXplore the aMazing WOrld of fossil fish. IN this SERIES we look at the AMAZING, comPLEX worLd of the unsung, unINspiring fossil fIsh that FILL the storeROOMs of the WORLD’s aMazing museums. We’ll look at the WEIrd, the WONderful and the aMazing fossil fish to dRive up the wOrld’s gLObal fishteracy. ONE fossil fish at a time.”

    CUT TO SHOT OF MARK PEERING AT A FOSSIL FISH THEN LOOKING OFF TO THE HORIZON.

    I’ve got a real doozy of a fish for you this month. Prepare to be disappointed. Steel yourself for disdain. Turn that apathy up to 11. Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week: Week 129

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 31 March 2014

    This animal has an excellent skull. You can’t tell from this week’s Specimen of the Week specimen because the skull is hidden away inside its furry head (though if you come to the Museum, you can see a skull). But the specimen outlined here is not to be missed. It could be its nonchalant slouch and sleepy eyes, as if it just got back from a hard night’s partying, or the teeny size of its ears compared to its head. I’m not sure, but something about this specimen screams ‘love me’. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… Read the rest of this entry »

    Museum Week: Behind The Art

    By Helen R Cobby, on 27 March 2014

    'Under Milk Wood' by Paula Rego, 1954, Oil on canvas

    ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Paula Rego, 1954, Oil on canvas

    It’s Museum Week, which is proving to be a brilliant opportunity to get to know new galleries, explore a museum’s history and join in with celebrating the wonderful work that museums do – not to mention the art they have and the imaginative spaces they create!

    There has been a different theme each day – and today it’s ‘Behind The Art’. Here at UCL Art Museum we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to rediscover some of the many female artists that studied at The Slade next door and whose work is part of the UCL Art Museum collections. We’re thinking Gwen John, Winifred Knights and Paula Rego.  Read the rest of this entry »

    On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Harris Years

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 27 March 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 Eight: Reg Harris (1948- 1956) Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week: Week 128

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 24 March 2014

    Here at the Grant Museum we love all species of animal. We are not racist, sexist, size-ist, species-ist, or any such ist at all. It was not us that named this animal, but if it had been us who gave it this particular common name, it would have been through love and appreciation, and not meant in a derogatory way. For there is nothing wrong with being how this animal is described in its common name. Nothing at all. In fact, I can relate. Ok, caveat over, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… Read the rest of this entry »

    Pottery Project Guest Blog: The Enigmatic Fish Dishes of the Petrie Museum

    By Alice E Stevenson, on 21 March 2014

    Guest blog by Mary Ownby  and Bettina Bader

    In the third in our series of different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Mary Ownby, Petrographic Researcher at Desert Archaeology Inc,  and Bettina Bader, Institut für Ägyptologie der Universität Wien, investigate the purpose of vessels that Egyptologists find puzzling.

    Analysis of Egyptian pottery provides great insight into how the Egyptians worked, ate, carried out religious activities, and related to the larger social and economic system. For most vessels, their shape can inform on their use, i.e. a jar is probably for storage, a large pot with a narrow opening for cooking, and bowls and plates for serving food. The location where ancient pottery has been found can also inform on how it was used, for example in an oven, or as ritual implements in the burial. In Egypt, depictions on tomb and temple walls as well as some texts also tell us about the variety of purposes ceramic vessels were used for. Thus, most ancient Egyptian pottery has a fairly clear use in the past.

    Pots being put to good use. Bread making scene from the Old Kingdom Tomb of Ti at Saqqara.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

    On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Watson Years

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 20 March 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 Seven: David Meredith Seares Watson (1921-1948)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    One of our dinosaurs, birds, crabs…. is missing

    By Mark Carnall, on 19 March 2014

    You may have figured from the title of this blog but I’m going to take a bit of time to talk about when specimens go missing from a museum collection. It can be a difficult thing for museums to talk about as most museums operate to care for the specimens and objects that are given in trust to them often for perpetuity, or more practically until the death of our part of the Universe. Currently a lot of my work here involves relocating our specimens following the move of the stores and museum a couple of years ago and trying to work out what happened to a missing specimen involves a bit of detective work, so I thought I’d offer an insight into the process.

    Read the rest of this entry »