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  • Soon turned out we had a heart of papier-mâché

    By Mark Carnall, on 16 June 2015

    Every year UCL Museum Studies students get to choose an object from each of UCL’s museums and collections to research for a term. This is a guest blog by Jennifer Esposti one of this year’s students looking at a mysterious model. 

    LDUCZ-X118 Image of  crocodile heart model at Grant Museum of Zoology UCL

    LDUCZ-X118 Auzoux model of crocodile heart

    Greetings! My name is Jennifer and I am a postgraduate student in UCL’s Museum Studies program. As part of my MA, I took a course called Collections Curatorship. This course entailed working within a group of students to research a museum object. I was assigned to the natural history group, to investigate an object from the Grant Museum. My group and I were presented with three possible objects and we selected a crocodile heart model known as Object LDUCZ-X118.  Here’s what we found out.

    The Not So Beautiful Birds

    By Mark Carnall, on 13 August 2014

    Image of Grant Museum sparrow skeleton

    Grant Museum sparrow skeleton. Specimen LDUCZ-Y1595

    Recently this specimen and a number of other bird skeletons came back from our conservation lab. When I first started at UCL these nine skeletons were in the dreaded “curator’s cabinet” a cabinet of broken and miscellaneous specimens that  were presumably the bane of previous curator’s lives. These skeletons were fragmented, partially disarticulated and all the fragments mixed together. I gave these specimens to Gemma Aboe who was undertaking some conservation work for us and she managed to piece together a number of half skeletons from this mixed box. These specimens aren’t the kind of thing you normally encounter in a public natural history museum display as they aren’t ‘perfect’ but I couldn’t resist taking a few extra shots of these whilst documenting them as although they are incomplete and not ‘worthy’ of a spot on display they are still quite hauntingly beautiful.


    Animals in Art

    By Mark Carnall, on 23 May 2014

    One of the aspects of working in a museum that I most enjoy is ‘enquiries’. Normally this will be museum visitors bringing in or sending in photos of mysterious objects that they want identifying. Not only is the challenge of identifying a mystery object fun but it’s very satisfying to work out what the object is and most visitors are happy to have had their object identified (with the rare exception when a dragon/dinosaur egg turns out to be a large very spherical pebble). Occasionally however, I receive an enquiry from a colleague from another museum asking for help with identifying animals depicted in a work of art or archaeological object.

    From the earliest images made on the walls of caves through to today, animals have inspired many people and we see this throughout the history of humans. Animals can be depicted as a record of the animals that an artist readily comes into contact with but often they carry symbolic representations or are merely a visual representation of the idea of an animal not meant to depict a specific species or individual.