X Close

UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Archive for April, 2012

Specimen of the Week: Week Twenty-Nine

Emma-Louise Nicholls30 April 2012

Scary Monkey: Week Twenty-NineA favourite in my household when I was growing up, these South-Pacific mammals are pleasant once you get to known them despite their bad reputation, only really fight when it comes to women or food, and don’t reach maturity until they are almost middle aged. This week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)

Egypt in London

Debbie J Challis28 April 2012

As part of the Petrie Museum’s A Fit Mind in a Fit Body season of events for summer 2012, we are encouraging you to explore Egypt in London. We have run walks in London for some time now; visiting cemeteries, factories, cinemas, parks and mausoleums in the search for Egyptian influences on London monuments, architecture and places.

We’d love to hear about any more places that you think are a bit of ‘Egypt in London’  – visitors have suggested the Homebase on Warwick Rd for example. Tweet pictures and places to @PetrieMuseEgypt.

Map of places in London with Egyptian Influence

Map of London and Egyptian places

Get out and about this summer!

Buried on Campus has opened

Jack Ashby24 April 2012

Excavation in the QuadTwo years ago rumours spread quickly around UCL that builders working in the Main Quad on Gower Street had discovered human bones while they were digging an access trench. Lots of human bones. As would be expected, theories abound as to what the story behind such a discovery might be.

The police were immediately involved, and they consulted UCL’s own expert forensic anatomist, Dr Wendy Birch, and established that no foul play had taken place, and the remains were not of police interest. Since then, Dr Birch and her colleagues have been researching the remains and trying to piece together (often literally – many of the bones were highly fragmented) what they are and why they were buried.

This is the topic of the Grant Museum’s new exhibition, Buried on Campus, co-curated by Wendy Birch and forensic anthropologist Christine King, our immediate Rockefeller Building neighbours in the UCL Anatomy Lab. (more…)

Talking the talk

Rachael Sparks23 April 2012

Behind each dig and archaeological display is a dilemma. Just how do we translate a distant and unattainable past into a recognizable product for present consumption? When somebody sees an object, their first reaction is usually ‘what is it, and what is it for?’ It’s our job to try and answer those kinds of questions.

Giving something a name is easy enough; its the second part that provides the challenge. To be perfectly honest, we don’t really know why figurines of fat naked women were all the rage in prehistoric Europe. Is there any real reason to argue for their use as ancient fertility symbols over pornographic aides, other than the desire to seem professional rather than voyeuristic?

The Venus of Willendorf. Perhaps the most famous fat naked female figurine of them all. Mother-goddess or the first mother-in-law joke?


Specimen of the Week: Week Twenty-Eight

Emma-Louise Nicholls23 April 2012

Scary Monkey: Week Twenty-EightEver heard of the chicken frog? What about the tiger shark? If I asked you what these species plus, say, the turtle dove and the spider monkey had in common, what would you say? Well, there are probably quite a few things when you dig deep (they all have eyes, for example), but superficially, it’s all in the name. Or nameS, as it were. This week’s specimen of the week has an equally split personality, as it is… (more…)

Mending Glass! A new conservation display at the Petrie Museum

Debbie J Challis17 April 2012

Guest post by Rachel Farmer

Ever wondered how much work goes into conserving a single object? Ever wanted to try a bit of conservation yourself? A new exhibition at the Petrie Museum looks at the work done on Petrie objects by Conservation students at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL.

glass1The small pedestal case was chosen as a great place to put on exhibitions about the work that happens behind the scenes at the Petrie Museum. To start the ball rolling an exhibition on conservation has been installed which also highlights the close relationship between the Petrie Museum and the Conservation students from the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. During the Conservation course at the Institute the students are given objects from material groups and over a number of years many groups of students have been given glass vessels from the Petrie Museum’s collection to work on. (more…)

House worms? Apartment Worms?

Mark Carnall16 April 2012

No they’re flatworms. Boom boom. Apologies for the awful pun but worm based-jokes are thin on the ground unlike earthworms which are thin and in the ground. Oh dear. This post is a continuation of the occasional series highlighting objects from the stores and recently I’ve turned my attention to Flatworms. (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Twenty-Seven

Emma-Louise Nicholls16 April 2012

Scary Monkey: Week Twenty-SevenUp above the cabinet so high, like a reptile in the sky, this week’s specimen of the week is both solid and squishy, it’s both green but white, and it is extremely hard to get down without the help of our 6 and a half foot curator so if you want to see it, you’ll have to look carefully. But it’s well worth the effort. This week’s specimen of the week is…


Touching Heritage: Call for volunteers

Linda Thomson13 April 2012

Researchers at UCL working on the ‘Heritage in Hospitals’ project are beginning a new programme of research funded by a Heritage Lottery award. The research, called ‘Touching Heritage’, aims to widen participation by taking museum objects out to healthcare communities that would otherwise be excluded from museum activities (e.g. neurological rehabilitation and psychiatric wards, residential care homes). One-to-one and group sessions led by facilitators will focus on the cultural, social and natural diversity of the objects in relation to participants’ own health and wellbeing. The experience will be enhanced by touching and handling objects traditionally associated with health and wellbeing, and by discussing how the objects feel, what they are made of or whether they resonate in other ways with participants.

An important aspect of this project is to train volunteers (including existing museum and hospital volunteers) to facilitate object handling sessions that maximize the potential to learn about health and wellbeing and widen participation in cultural and heritage activities. If you are keen to volunteer to work on this project and are happy to undergo training, or have any thoughts or comments, please get in touch with the project team – we’d really like to hear from you.

For more information about the ‘Heritage in Hospitals’ research go to:

Or email:
Dr Helen Chatterjee, Project Leader: h.chatterjee@ucl.ac.uk
Dr Linda Thomson, Lead Researcher: linda.thomson@ucl.ac.uk

Drawing over the Colour Line

Krisztina Lackoi13 April 2012

guest blog by Gemma Romain

Sketch of Seated Male Figure looking directly at viewer

Seated Male Figure by Ann M. Tooth, UCL Art Museum

Drawing over the Colour Line is a new project which started in January 2012 and is run by The Equiano Centre in UCL’s Department of Geography. We have been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to carry out a project over the next two years looking at the experiences and identities of Black people in London during the inter-war period by exploring their relationship with the art world. We are specifically focusing on the histories of people of African and Asian heritage who worked as artists and as artists’ models, and contextualising these histories within an examination of interwar political and social movements including pan-Africanism and anti-colonial activism and also histories of empire, migration, and diaspora. The end result of the project will be a public database documenting artworks in various locations, including public and private collections, which relate to Black artists and artists’ models.

We are working with UCL Art Museum throughout the project, researching the collections and carrying out various or co-hosting public events. The project explores some of the artwork created by students based at the Slade School of Fine Art during the 1920s and 1930s, many of which are now located at UCL Art Museum. For example, we are researching the drawings of models of African heritage which won Slade student prizes. Additionally, we will be working with the museum to explore these collections in greater depth by running a summer school for young people, a pop-up exhibition and contributing towards a research guide on Black history and the collections of UCL Art Museum.

Visit our blog and twitter for more details:  http://drawingoverthecolourline.wordpress.com/ and http://twitter.com/DColourLine .

For more information on The Equiano Centre visit our website http://www.ucl.ac.uk/equianocentre/