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  • Boxing Clever

    By Dean W Veall, on 2 October 2014

    Dean Veall here. In my role as Learning Officer I am responsible for our exciting adult events programme, and I thought I would share our next event coming up this term, it’s the return of the brilliant Focus on the Positive. Focus on the Positive is an event developed by UCL’s Public Engagement Unit where UCL’s researchers pitch their ideas for projects to the audience in order to secure their vote with the successful pitch walking away with £2,000 prize money to make it a reality. Here at the Museum we jumped on the opportunity to host a Focus on the Positive back in February and the winners Philipp Boeing and Bethan Wolfenden are back to share with us how their project has been developing.

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    Animals and their super senses

    By Dean W Veall, on 26 August 2014

    Guest blogger Dr. Helen Czerski

    Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) LDUCZ-Z2589

    Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) LDUCZ-Z2589

    Peering up the nose of a hyena is not generally on the “to do” list of most people.  As a physicist  it’s also not the sort of thing you are trained to do, either.   Fortunately for me, this hyena was long-dead – I was only faced with a skull that had just been borrowed from its display case in the Grant Museum of Zoology.   And its nose was well-worth ogling.

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    Focus on the Positive

    By Dean W Veall, on 11 March 2014

    We’ve hosted a variety of events (film nights, game shows etc) in the Grant Museum

    Voting

    Voting

    but none have been quite like Thursday 27th February’s event. That event saw our speakers talking about Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, London’s bats, faecal digesters and molecular biology all trying to cajole, convince and in one case bribe the audience to win the £2,000 prize. The event in question was Focus on the Positive.

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    Whose story is it anyway?

    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.

    Students from Lambeth Academy absorbed in their work in The Rock Room, UCL

    Students from Lambeth Academy absorbed in their work in The Rock Room, UCL

    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

     To observe.

     

    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

     Her smile.

     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.

    Festival of Pots

    By Edmund Connolly, on 24 January 2014

    by guest blogger: Helen Pike

     The Festival of Pots has kicked off with some Ace pots being made by a year 6 school group from Chris Hatton based in Camden –

    These and many other examples of work by a range of community based groups attached to Holborn Community Association have been produced in the last few weeks as part of a 6 month Festival of Pots here at The Petrie.

    One of our school-made pots

    One of our school-made pots

    Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artefacts is a character in history who himself needs excavating.

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    Fossils, climate change and the future of life on Earth

    By Dean W Veall, on 21 November 2013

    Each year we celebrate the birth of the man who was the first Professor to teach evolution in an English university, the man who gave an astonishing 200 lectures a year and the man who lent his name to the Museum, Robert Edmond Grant. November 11th saw the 220th year since his birth and in honour we held our 17th Annual Grant Lecture on Tuesday, with dinosaurs, climate change and the future of life on our planet, it was one not to miss but in case you did here are the highlights.

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    Smiling at Earthworms

    By Dean W Veall, on 10 October 2013

    Annelid encounter

    Annelid encounter

    Look at that face. In that smile there is excitement and thrill of my nephew handling an earthworm for the first time and every time I see that shot it brings a smile to my face. Because of that encounter with an annelid he may one day become a scientist and change the way we think of the world, or he may not (he currently aspires to be a builder, a postman and hot favourite is Mike the Knight). What is evidently clear from that one photo is a genuine connection with the natural world, a connection that will lead to, among other things I would hope, a love and an appreciation of nature that will stay with him for life.

    According to a report compiled by naturalist Stephen Moss for the National Trust, Natural Childhood (2012 children and young people spend 2.5 hours a day watching television, 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen for 11-15 year olds and 20 hours a week online. That description of how children and young people spend their time today accurately describes how I spend my grown-up time but was not a characteristic of my youth. (more…)

    Working [in Museums] Wednesdays #2

    By Edmund Connolly, on 29 May 2013

    The Vexation of Volunteering

    Volunteering in museums has being a bit maligned, are budding young enthusiasts being taken advantage of ? (such as this MJ article). Unfortunately, there may appear  an unfair element to volunteering, and they are essential in the running of many, if not all, museums. However, where the Petrie flys in the face of the nay-sayers is our commitment to offering our volunteers as holistic an experience as possible when they join our team.

    From Bastet to Bodybuilders, our volunteers see it all. Copyright Marilyn Luscombe.

    From Bastet to Bodybuilders, our volunteers see it all. Copyright Marilyn Luscombe.

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    More than just Technicolor camp

    By Dean W Veall, on 25 January 2013

    Shown Wednesday night, Fantastic Voyage (1966), was a Technicolor film of epicly camp proportions. And was brilliant for it. What could be better than a plot involving shrinking a crack team of surgeons to microscopic levels in a military submarine to operate on inoperable brain damage of an agent carrying intel of national importance? How about shoddy science. shaky sets, a casual swim through the inner ear, Raquel Welch in a skin tight full body suit brandishing a laser gun and a shady covert military organisation where generals smoked cigars in dimly lit conference rooms. All classic film night fare.

    But one audience member had an altogether unexpected response to this “silly old film*”. Here is an email that landed on my desktop this morning:

    What a great film night this was, not least for its rousing introduction by Professor Joe Cain.

    But as the film ran, Joe’s words of wisdom began to fade as I became increasingly engrossed by the music … which does not properly begin until the main characters are injected into the body of the patient. Here was a fully composed orchestral score (no electronic short-cuts here) … time and again evoking the sound world of Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1851), and his early twentieth-century disciples.

    After some quick homework I uncovered the (new to me) name of New York composer Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008) … no surprise to find he was pupil not only of Schoenberg, but also of other twentieth-century musical pioneers Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975) and Roger Sessions (1896 –1985).

    The score for Fantastic Voyage is notable not only for its large orchestral forces and the huge range of orchestral colours drawn out by Rosenman, but for its uncompromising atonal serialism, perhaps unique in film scores up to that point. Unsurprisingly, for many listeners the score is cold and unrelentingly sterile, but such critics would no doubt think this true of so many 20th Century musical modernists and their disciples.

    Rosenman’s highly structured compositional techniques produce a soundscape that feels not out of place today – so ubiquitous has that serial atonal sound world become in accompanying such suspenseful visual media – indeed these days a pastiche might be thrown together in no time at all by a talented undergraduate composition student with a laptop. But for Rosenman every note and colour combination had to be not only imagined in silence (no ready sound samples for him) but also set down on paper by hand before the whole could be brought to life by a symphony orchestra of (I guess) 80 or so musicians; the real effect unknown until finally performed.

    A cd lifted from the soundtrack of the 35mm reels is available, and I have now ordered it. Never mind Film Studies, lets hear it for Musicology!”

    Here’s the link to the TV spot from 1966. Listen to that score.
    Fantastic Voyage (1966) TV Spot

    *Quote from Professor Joe Cain

    Call My Bluffalo: The B-Roll

    By Mark Carnall, on 8 May 2012

    Last week the Grant Museum hosted Call My Bluffalo, a panel event in the format of the popular game show Call My Bluff albeit with a zoological twist. The panel was made up of Dr Ian Barnes (Royal Holloway Univeristy), Dr Anjali Goswami (UCL), Professor Kate Jones (UCL, Institute of Zoology) and Dr Victoria Herridge (Natural History Museum). The star-studded panel do what they do best had to put in a lot of effort to contrive science lies and to try to dupe each other into believing made up etymologys of a range of zoological names. A task made difficult by the fact that sometimes the truth is far stranger than fiction. The event went very well judging from the audience reception (and of course the evaluation forms) but we ended up not using a round of questions we had planned. Rather than waste the effort putting them together we thought we’d put them up here for our readers to have a go themselves.
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