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Archive for the 'Museums and Collections' Category

UCL Communication and Culture Awards 2015

Siobhan Pipa13 May 2015

Last Thursday saw staff from across UCL gather together to await one of the most hotly anticipated announcements of the year. No not the General Election results – I am, of course, referring to the winners of this year’s UCL Communication and Culture Awards.

Professor Michael Arthur

Professor Michael Arthur

Organised by UCL Public & Cultural Engagement and UCL Communications & Marketing, the awards, now in their second year, recognise the fantastic work done throughout the UCL community in spreading awareness of research and teaching through the media and cultural platforms.

This can include working on television, radio, blogging, festivals, public events, arts projects and exhibitions.

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Petrie Film Club: Lucifer Rising

ycrnf0111 November 2014

Petrie Museum of Egyptian ArchaeologySet among many enchanting and unusual artefacts, a timely post-Halloween showing of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising felt perfectly at home at UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Preceding this, PhD archaeology student Ethan Doyle White gave an insight into the film’s occult themes.

The talk explored Kenneth Anger’s background, a California-born filmmaker whose short, experimental films would prove to be of great influence over such ‘big name’ directors like Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, and who is also cited as an inspiration for the development of the music video.

Although well-known among experimental film buffs, Anger is hardly a household name, largely because his films revolve around two themes that were not exactly respectable in twentieth-century American culture: male homoeroticism and occultism.

Anger was a practitioner of an occult religion known as Thelema, which had been founded by the English occultist Aleister Crowley (notoriously dubbed the “wickedest man in the world” by the tabloid press of his own day) while on honeymoon in Egypt in 1904.

Allegedly inspired by a sacred text that Crowley claimed had been given to him by a supernatural entity, Thelema proclaimed that the twentieth-century marked the start of a new “Aeon of Horus”.

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Eugenics. What does the word mean? What is its genesis? And more importantly, what is its legacy?

ucyow3c7 November 2014

pencil-icon Written by Natalie Clue, Human Genetics BSc

Eugenics tree, 1921

Eugenics tree, 1921. Credit: American Philosophical Society.

I write this post after a whirlwind introduction to the discipline of eugenics and its inextricable connection to our university, upon reading an article written by Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, recently published in Times Higher Education. In a matter of weeks, I came to learn much more about the dark legacy of the celebrated figurehead in which our university takes immense pride: Francis Galton.

He is lauded as a polymath and eminent scientist who worked on biostatistics and human genetics, as well as a traveller and inventor of scientific instruments and a contributor to the subjects of meteorology and criminology. He was also the founding father of eugenics.

I learnt that the word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (‘good’ or ‘well’) and the suffix –genēs (‘born’), and that it was coined by Galton in 1883. I learnt that his definition of eugenics was “the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations“.

I also came to discover that a prime motivation for the research which led to many of the ‘achievements’ noted above was the motivation to determine what constituted ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’ traits among the peoples of the world, to legitimise the theory of racial supremacy – with the ‘Aryan’ race being the ‘master’ of all and the ‘Negro’ being the least of the ‘lesser’ – and to classify these ‘lesser’ races as non-occidental or ‘other’.

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Grant Museum Show’n’Tell: Soda Lakes

ycrnf0129 October 2014

Cichlid fish. Image courtesy of  Dean Veall and Antonia Ford

Cichlid fish. Image courtesy of
Dean Veall and Antonia Ford

The Grant Museum of Zoology is just one of UCL’s many interesting and engaging museums, conveniently located almost directly opposite the Quad, and so, perfect for a fly-by lunchtime visit.

The museum hosts plenty of events throughout the year including its exciting Show’n’Tell series. I took the opportunity to go along to an edition and hosted on Wednesday 22 October.

Home to no less than 68,000 fascinating objects, the museum’s collection covers everything from the Tasmanian tiger and Dodo to brain matter and skeletons from species right across the animal kingdom. I heard from a UCL researcher who was asked to showcase just one object from the vast options on offer and tasked with sharing all they know about it to a keen and inquisitive audience.

It was certainly a unique experience to be surrounded by thousands of specimens as the talk took place at the heart of the museum among the many exhibitions. The event began with a short welcome and introduction to the museum, including an overview of its 170-year history, by our host for the hour, Dean Veall (Grant Museum, Learning and Access Officer) who then introduced PhD student Antonia Ford (UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment).

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