Museums & Collections Blog
  •  
  •  
  • Categories

  •  
  • Tags

  •  
  • Archives

  • Bringing plaster sculptures to life

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 29 July 2015

    One of our volunteers, Agata Matusielanska, MA in Cultural Heritage Studies at University College London, writes about her experience of working on the Flaxman app over the summer.

    As a volunteer at UCL Art Museum I’ve recently been working on uploading information into the new Flaxman app, which highlights the work of artist John Flaxman (1755 – 1826) in the Art Museum’s collection. The main place you can see Flaxman’s work is in the Flaxman Gallery, a space in the Main Library. The gallery is probably best known to students as a place to have a lunch or ring friends during periods of studying crisises. Probably not many of them pay attention to the amazing 39 plasters displayed on the wall. UCL Art Museum contains the world’s largest single holding of Flaxman material. The subjects of the plaster casts in the Flaxman Gallery vary from studies for memorials and monuments to bible scenes.

    Flaxman app screenshot

    Flaxman app screenshot

    Read the rest of this entry »

    The world’s rarest skeleton rides again… on four legs

    By Jack Ashby, on 28 July 2015

    Using cutting-edge technology, the world’s rarest skeleton – a South African extinct zebra called a quagga – has regained its missing hind limb.

    The quagga's missing fourth leg has been replicated through 3D printing.

    The quagga’s missing fourth leg has been replicated through 3D printing.

    After a brilliant year of fundraising and conservation work, we are nearing the end of a major project to restore 39 of our largest and most significant skeletons to their former glory. The main focus of the project, named Bone Idols: Protecting our Iconic Skeletons, has been our quagga – which is one of only seven quagga skeletons to survive globally. The Guardian gave the project a particularly positve write-up (read the comments if you want to see some of the more unexpected outcomes of media relations. *blushes*).

    The last living quagga died in 1883, having been hunted to extinction by farmers and skin-collectors. The Grant Museum specimen is the only one on display in the UK but the skeleton was incomplete – the right shoulder blade and one of its legs has long been missing, probably since World War II.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 198: Ammonite-ee-hee*

    By Mark Carnall, on 27 July 2015

    In both sad and happy news, I’m off to pastures new at the end of August, leaving the Grant Museum after what will be ten years and off to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Although that’s still a while away yet, the schedule for the specimen of the week writing mean that this will be my last specimen of the week.

    Image of LDUCZ-R16 Asterocera obtusum from the Grant Museum of Zoology UCL

    LDUCZ-R16 A clue to this week’s specimen of the week

    One question I get a lot working at the Grant Museum is “What is your favourite specimen?”. My normal answer is that it changes from week to week depending on what I’ve recently been working on or the specimens I’ve become familiarised with which have been requested for use by researchers. However, I do have a soft spot for this week’s specimen of the week which has been used in teaching and research and hundreds, if not thousands of people have got hands on with this specimen in family and school handling activities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it hadn’t already been featured in this blog series either.

    This week’s (and my final) specimen of the week is… Read the rest of this entry »

    JA Fleming – Discoveries From The Archive.

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 24 July 2015

    This guest blog has been written by Kelsey Svaren, a placement student who has been working with us over the past few months. 

    A few weeks ago I spent some time in UCL Special Collections working my way through the 24 boxes of material that John Ambrose Fleming left to UCL. I was able to look at these boxes in the span of four days, and let me tell you that is not an easy feat! Although I spent more time on certain boxes and documents than others, I feel I got a good overall view of what Fleming wanted UCL to have in its possession and can understand how the University’s history is interwoven with that of Fleming’s. During this time, I have been able to make some generalised conclusions about this man; the one who gave us the technology for so many inventions that people find themselves dependent upon today.

    JA Fleming receiving the Kelvin medal. (Image provided by UCL Special Collections Library).

    JA Fleming receiving the Kelvin medal. (Image provided by UCL Special Collections Library).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Why do museums bother running events?

    By Dean W Veall, on 23 July 2015

    UCL Museums Murder Mystery event

    UCL Museums Murder Mystery event

    Dean Veall here. All museums do them and we here at the Grant Museum did A LOT of them over the last year: events. We ran a rich and diverse programme of events that included an improvised opera performance, a games night, film screenings, a queer takeover, talks and much much more. But why? Why do we and other museums bother running events for an adult audience when visits by this group appear to be continuing to climb? [1] Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 197: The Common Dolphin Skull

    By Will J Richard, on 20 July 2015

    LDUCZ-Z2277 common dolphin skull (Delphinus sp.)

    LDUCZ-Z2277 common dolphin skull (Delphinus sp.)

    Hello! Will Richard here, putting fingers to keyboard once again to bring you the next instalment of specimen of the week. And this week I am going to make things easy for myself. I’ve had enough of subspecies versus species, questionable (mis)identifications, taxing taxonomy and chaotic cladistics. So this time I’m keeping it simple. A cut and dried case: the common dolphin. What could be clearer?

    Oh…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 196 : A Real Fossil Pterosaur

    By Tannis Davidson, on 13 July 2015

    LDUCZ-X1093 Rhamphorhynchus muensteri fossil

    LDUCZ-X1093 Rhamphorhynchus muensteri fossil

    In my last post, I wrote about our ‘Zittel wing’ pterosaur cast and mentioned that I was doing a bit of research on another Grant Museum Rhamphorhynchus specimen. Pterosaurs were flying reptiles from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period. They were the first vertebrates to evolve powered flight. While I admit to being biased toward our palaeontology collections, this second Rhamphorhynchus is a very special specimen – definitely one of the unsung highlights of the Museum. It’s rare, has a fascinating (if enigmatic) history and is a wonderful example of positive re-identification.  Why it hasn’t been given the full SOTW treatment I. Just. Don’t. Know. Without further ado, this week’s Specimen of the Week is…

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Specimen of the Week 195: The Kangaroo Joey Preserved on a Teat

    By Jack Ashby, on 6 July 2015

    Kangaroo joey on teat. LDUCZ-Z1102

    Kangaroo joey on teat. LDUCZ-Z1102

    For the past fourteen weeks a kangaroo has been the most celebrated object in the Grant Museum, but it was not part of our collection, nor was it a zoological specimen. Europe’s first painting of a kangaroo, from 1772 by George Stubbs left us just last week. It had been the centrepiece of our Stange Creatures exhibition and now it is continuing its nationwide tour from the National Maritime Museum*. I have argued it is one of the most important artworks in the history of British exploration.

    Now that it’s gone, I would like to shine the spotlight on a kangaroo that does “live” here at the Grant Museum. Although it also featured in the exhibition, I suspect it’s recently been feeling somewhat overshadowed by its 2-dimensional counterpart. This week’s Specimen of the Week is…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    The greatest living Art Collection (at UCL)

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 1 July 2015

    Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

    Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

    At Glastonbury Festival this year, singer Kanye West claimed he was the ‘greatest living rock star on the planet’. Here at the UCL Art Museum, we’d like to claim that we are the greatest living art collection on campus, hosting a wonderful treasure trove of work dating from the 1490’s to the present day. We can afford to be as confident as Kanye, with a collection by artists such as Durer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck Turner, Dora Carrington, Stanley Spencer and Paula Rego.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: June 2015

    By Mark Carnall, on 30 June 2015

    Fresh Prince of Nairnshire. LDUCZ-V1811 fossil masquerading as Will Smith from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

    LDUCZ-V1181. Fresh.

    Now, this is the story all about how
    My life got flipped-turned upside down
    And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there
    I’ll tell you how I became an underwhelming fish fossil.

     

     

     

    This might be how this month’s underwhelming fossil fish of the month would introduce itself, were it not a fossil fish and if fish could rap in the first place and if fish were keen fans of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and if the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was aired in the Devonian. But unfortunately it is, they can’t, they’re not and it wasn’t. So it’s down to me to introduce yet another monthly underwhelming fossil fish in my mission to increase global fishteracy and to temporarily shine a spotlight on unloved museum specimens.

    As you can tell from the flimsy preamble, there’s not much to say about this month’s specimen so back away from the edge of your seat and lower your expectations. We’re in for a uneventful ride.
    Read the rest of this entry »