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  • Archive for February, 2013

    Specimen of the Week: Week Seventy

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 11 February 2013

    Scary Monkey The decision making for this week’s Specimen of the Week went along these lines:
    Emma: ‘Can I do another shark?’
    Manager: ‘No’
    Emma: ‘How about a dogfish?’
    Manager: ‘I’m not stupid’
    Emma: ‘What do you mean?’
    Manager: ‘Dogfish are a species of shark’
    Emma: ‘Well what do you suggest then?’
    Manager: ‘How about a marsupial?’
    Emma: ‘Fine. But I’m writing this conversation as the introduction so I still get to mention sharks’
    Manager: ‘I’ll edit it out’
    Emma: ‘Not if I publish it first, mwah hah haaaaaaaah’

    This week’s Specimen of the Week is…


    Conserve It! Getting Started

    By Nicholas J Booth, on 5 February 2013

    This is the first in a series of blogs written by conservation students working on objects from UCL’s Medical Physics Collection. Over the the next few months the students will keep us updated on their progress. This initial blog was lead authored by Katherine LM Becker.

    On December 13, students from UCL’s MSc in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums, their course co-ordinator – Dean Sully, the UCL Collections Senior Conservator – Susi Pancaldo, and UCL Museums curator – Nick Booth, met to discuss a new project!

    Kate Becker and Miriam Orsini get their first view of the objects.
    (Photo by Leslie Stephens)

    During relocation of the Medical Physics Department’s collection, Nick Booth encountered four objects in need of conservation and, through Susi Pancaldo, was able to bring the objects to the conservation lab to be treated as part of student portfolios! Four students elected to participate in the project: Katherine Becker, Miriam Orsini, Leslie Stephens, and Louise Stewart. Together, we hope to gain new experiences and challenge ourselves with potentially complex glass reconstructions. From the beginning we thought that the best approach to the project would be for each student to be responsible for one object, but for us all to work as a group in problem solving and to make cohesive decisions.


    How Did Man Lose His Penis Bone?

    By Jack Ashby, on 4 February 2013

    Grant Museum walrus penis boneThe walrus penis bone in the Grant Museum is often pointed at with a titter, a gasp, and other whispered noises. That’s obviously not surprising – it’s longer than my thigh. Conversations normally go something like this:

    Visitor [blushing]: I didn’t know that there was a bone in them.
    Staff: Ah well, there isn’t in humans, but most mammals have them. There’s a few in a jar over here [points to jar].
    Visitor: Why?
    Staff: Mostly it’s about stamina.
    Visitor: I feel sorry for the girl walrus.
    Staff: Over here is a skeleton of a raccoon with its penis bone in position – you don’t often see this because the prude Victorians got into the habit of removing them out of common decency. There are drawers and drawers of them in store at big natural history museums.
    Visitor: Gee whizz. So why don’t humans have one?
    Staff: Good question [branches off into that kind of babble that professional communicators use when they don’t know the answer, normally involving offering the visitor the opportunity to discuss what they think the answer is. You’ll note that if the staff member had known the answer, we’d have seen the topic arrive when the visitor asked “Why?”]
    [Visitor leaves]

    Well, one of the wonderful PhD Student Engagers we employ to talk to visitors about their research and experiences of academic life, Suzanne Harvey, has made our lives much simpler by writing a blog which answers the question – How did man lose his penis bone? It’s over on their “Researchers in Museums” blog and it begins like this… (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Sixty-Nine

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 4 February 2013

    Scary MonkeyEvery Specimen of the Week I have done thus far, I have realised, has nearly always been a whole animal. Not to say that’s a bad thing but I do feel a vast number of extremely super duper specimens, that are essentially ‘body parts’, have been overlooked. Subsequently this week’s specimen is a body part, but don’t worry it’s not as gruesome as it sounds in the slightest, no need to put off reading the post until after dinner. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)