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  • Archive for August, 2012

    Call for volunteers: Touching Heritage

    By Nicholas Vogelpoel, on 6 August 2012

    If you are someone who is passionate about heritage, interested in health and wellbeing, and keen to volunteer in an innovative heritage-in-health project – we want to hear from you!
    Patient in object-handling session © UCL Museums and Public Engagement

    UCL Museums and Public Engagement is looking for a new group of volunteers to take part in the Touching Heritage project, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new programme aims to widen participation in cultural activities by taking museum objects out to hospitals and other healthcare communities that would otherwise be excluded from museum activities (e.g., 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.

    We are currently seeking volunteers to train as facilitators of museum object handling sessions, and then to co-ordinate object handling sessions in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare environments as part of the project. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Forty-Three

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 6 August 2012

    Scary Monkey: Week Forty-ThreeEveryone is so excited about the Olympics that it was tempting to choose something obvious for Specimen of the Week such as the bronze-winged jacana, the silver brush-tailed possum, or the golden mole. Instead however, I decided to go for something equally (tenuously) related to the Olympics but just a little less prosaic. Instead of focusing on the medals (because as we know it’s only really about the taking part), I thought I’d introduce you to the tools of the Olympian trade. Or some of the trades. Items similar to the Specimen of the Week are used in tennis, football, basketball, ping-pong and shot put. Any ideas? (I said it was tenuous.) This week’s specimen of the week is… (more…)

    Guest blog: Treasures from the East

    By Krisztina Lackoi, on 2 August 2012

    Guest blog by Stefanie van Gemert

    Have a look at this print from the UCL Art Museum’s collection. What do you think this man is staring at? Do you recognize any of the objects he is surrounded by? Who do you think he is?

    seated room reading a scroll in room, back to the window

    Rembrandt van Rijn, Abraham Francen, Art Dealer, etching, EPC1709  ©UCL Art Museum







    This is an etching from 1656 by the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). We can see Rembrandt’s personal friend, Abraham Francen, staring at, perhaps, another etching, mirroring the gestures and concentrated look of the contemporary art viewer. Francen was a pharmacist in 17th-century Amsterdam, who saw Rembrandt’s fame rise from close-by. Though he was not very affluent, Abraham was a keen collector of paintings, prints and curiosities. I used this print as a starting point for the community workshops I held at the UCL Art Museum over May, June and July 2012, because ‘collecting’ was a core theme in my narrative about Dutch colonial history, global encounters and 17th-century art. (more…)

    Jaws for Thought

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 1 August 2012

    Epaulette sharkWorking at the Grant Museum I get asked a lot of questions about animals, most of which I can answer, some of which (normally from 5-6 year olds) I have to look up. A member of the public knows whether they’ve hit an information goldmine, or else should make excuses and leave immediately, when they say the s-word and see my eyes light up. The s-word brings excitement to some (such as myself) and abject horror to others- mostly those who were of a cinema-going age in the 70’s. For yes- the s-word of which I speak is ‘shark’. What hacking did for the News of the World, the film Jaws did for sharks. Generations of people left cinemas with a new found phobia, virulent enough to replace heights, the dark, and spiders. ‘Man-eater’, ‘blood lust’, ‘crazed feeding frenzy’… I’ve seen them all, and worse, in media from cheap-tat-newspapers to otherwise-decent-television-channel documentaries. As soon as people discover that I am a shark specialist, they either display a mutual appreciation of them through a spouting of random shark trivia (my favourite) or they respond by immediately telling me of their fear of sharks as ‘ruthless killing machines’. Some even make the mistake of using the nails-on-a-blackboard phrase ‘man-eaters’. These people find themselves unable to leave the museum without a conversation with me about why that is in fact, a very unfair thing to say. (more…)