UCL Museums & Collections Blog
  •  
  •  
  • Categories

  •  
  • Tags

  •  
  • Archives

  • Specimen of the Week: Week 132

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 21 April 2014

    Scary MonkeyFor those of you who didn’t have a chance to read last week’s Specimen of the Week, or for those of you who did but still can’t quite believe it- this is my penultimate blog in this series. DON’T PANIC- Specimen of the Week shall be continuing, but as of the 5th May it will be written by the other lovely members of Team Grant. As you can all appreciate, Specimen of the Week is probably the most important part of my, or any of our, jobs here at the Grant Museum, and so I do not move on from it lightly. I am in fact moving up the ladder and on to another museum. So enjoy and savour the penultimate Emma-authored Specimen of the Week.

    Uh hum (wipes tear) this week’s Specimen of the Week is… Read the rest of this entry »

    Egypt on the Stage: A Tale of two Queens

    By Edmund Connolly, on 20 April 2014

    Egypt has had many theatrical incarnations, one of the most famous, and my favourite, being Shakespeare’s epic The Tragedy of Anthony and Cleopatra, which forged a time defying reflection of Cleopatra Philopator, and Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.

    Most probably written around 1606 this play can be studied in conjunction with the preceding Macbeth as a play about monarchy, rulership and conquest. The two protagonists (Cleo. and Mac.) could be compared as a good and bad example of monarch; I like to think Cleopatra is definitely the paragon.

    Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in 1963 film. copyright 20th Century Fox, sourced www.imdb.com

    Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in 1963 film. copyright 20th Century Fox, sourced www.imdb.com

    Read the rest of this entry »

    On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Down Years

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 17 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.

    Rosina Down, tenth curator of the Grant Museum collectionsNumber Eleven: Rosina Down (1971-1994) Read the rest of this entry »

    Is it ever acceptable for museums to lie?

    By Jack Ashby, on 16 April 2014

    I ask this question to our Museum Studies Masters students every year, and last month put it to our new Bachelor of Arts and Sciences students. Despite the difference in the age, background and interests of these two groups, the reaction is the same – anger and horror. I am playing devil’s advocate in these debates, but my own opinion is yes, there are circumstances when everyone benefits from museums lying.

    The lectures I discuss this in focus on object interpretation, and I use a tiger skull as a prop for discussing how to decide what information to include in labels. The choice of a tiger isn’t important – I just need something to use as an example I can attached real facts about natural history and conservation to, but I spend the two hours talking about tigers.

    Lion (left) and tiger (right) skulls. Or is it the other way round? LDUCZ-Z1644 and LDUCZ-Z396

    Lion (left) and tiger (right) skulls. Or is it the other way round? LDUCZ-Z1644 and LDUCZ-Z396

    At the end of the lecture I reveal that the skull is in fact from a lion. Everything else I told them about tigers is true. Did it matter that I lied? Read the rest of this entry »

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week: Week 131

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 14 April 2014

    I have some extremely sad news to share with you. After three years of loving every minute (not as much sarcasm as you’d think) of working at my beloved Grant Museum, I am moving up the ladder and on to another museum. This of course is super exciting news for the most part, but it means that I will be leaving the Grant Museum at the end of April and thus, alas, will no longer be writing Specimen of the Week.

    Do not worry my friends, for the legacy shall continue. From the 5th May onwards, SotW will be written by other members of Team Grant so you will still get your weekly fix of specimen and species information. But as for me, next week is my penultimate Specimen of the Week blog. So I shall try to make sure my last three (counting this one) are REALLY good (though, obviously, I have always tried to make them REALLY good). This week’s Specimen of the Week is… Read the rest of this entry »

    On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Lawrence Months

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 10 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.

    Number Ten: Michael Lawrence (1971 ‘for a few months’) Read the rest of this entry »

    The Mystery of the Norwood Petrie Portrait

    By Debbie J Challis, on 9 April 2014

    Last year I went to view two paintings at the Harris Academy, South Norwood: one is of the inventor and philanthropist William Ford Robinson Stanley and the other is of the archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie.  Stanley is the original founder of the Harris Academy (formerly known as the Stanley Technical College) and the Stanley Halls next door. I am a trustee of the charity The Stanley Peoples’ Initiative

    Petrie

    A portrait of Flinders Petrie? (close up)

    which is taking the Stanley Halls into community management. Obviously I work at the Petrie Museum and so was intrigued and somewhat bewildered to have two portraits of people closely connected to organisations I am involved in and care about on my doorstep.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Why Twitter is good for museums – making discoveries

    By Jack Ashby, on 9 April 2014

    Using Twitter as a way of building a community of support, engaging people in content and shedding light on life behind the scenes in museums (that we don’t just dust stuff) is too obviously demonstrated by the real world to be spending too much time discussing. Not to mention the power to market events and exhibitions quickly and cheaply – assuming don’t over-use social media as a marketing tool.

    On Monday I conducted two pieces of “research” on our collection which sprung up out of the blue and would have been very difficult to solve without turning to our Twitter followers to tap their collective brain to find a quick answer. Both of them were on specimens that begin with “H” and end with “Bill”. Weird.

    Tweeting Turtles

    Hawksbill turtle showing his interesting eyes LDUCZ-X1177

    Hawksbill turtle showing his interesting eyes LDUCZ-X1177

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week: Week 130

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 7 April 2014

    I didn’t chose this week’s specimen, a friend did. But it is still a good one. Because all of our specimens are good. Not necessarily in terms of aestheticism, or durability, or say, smell… but all 68,000 are good. In one way or another. Unfortunately for both of us, I can only write about one at a time, but here it is. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… Read the rest of this entry »