Museums & Collections Blog
  • Categories

  • Tags

  • Archives

  • Archive for March, 2013

    Kings and Queens and the case of the pink hippo?

    By Edmund Connolly, on 15 March 2013

    Guest Blogger, Christopher Webb

    On Tuesday the 26th February the Petrie Museum played host to a celebration of LGBT history month. The evening, ‘Every good thing’, saw Egyptologist John J Johnston in conversation, as he discussed items chosen from the Petrie’s collection of over 80,000 artefacts from ancient Egypt and Sudan, including figurines, mummy portraits and ceramic. Our special guests from the LGBT community carefully selected their personal choice of object and reflected on what it tells them about life, love and sexuality in the ancient world. The goal of the evening was to further our knowledge and insight into the LGBT experience in the ancient world.


    Our first guest, comedian, writer and actor Tom Allen, chose a terracotta head of Alexander the Great, from Memphis. UC49881 (more…)

    Happy Second Birthday Grant Museum – A Year in Review

    By Jack Ashby, on 15 March 2013

    Grant Museum version 2.0* opened in the Rockefeller two years ago today. Time sure flies and we are still calling it our “new home” (but then since we’ve been going for about 185 years I guess it’s all relative). I remember telling myself that after the trauma of the relocation things would quieten down, but actually our diaries are ever fuller and we’re proud to look back on another whopping great year in our fabulous little museum. Here are some highlights of the last twelve months…

    The year in numbers
    16151 visitors during normal opening hours
    10148 participants in our events
    6031 school and FE students in museum classes
    3223 university students in museum classes
    578 objects photographed
    357 objects accessioned
    118 objects acquired
    104 blog posts
    52 specimens of the week
    20 loans
    3 two-headed fresh livestock turned down
    1 fewer anaconda than we started with. (more…)

    QR codes and “Tales of Things” at the Petrie Museum

    By Edmund Connolly, on 13 March 2013

    guest blogger Andie Byrnes

    I was at an object-handling session on the 5th March 2013 and as I had arrived early I took the opportunity get out my phone and play with the QR codes set up next to selected objects.  A project called “Tales of Things” has been rolled out at a number of museums, and the Petrie is contributing. The “Tales of Things” project has been set up to explore the relationships that people form with objects.  So when you see a QR code in the Petrie with the words “Tales of Things” above it, you will know that it is part of the project, and you can participate.

    QR Codes

    QR Codes

    QR (“Quick Response”) codes are two-dimensional bar codes.  Unlike the vertical row barcodes so familiar on books, CDs and groceries scanned through supermarket tills, QR codes are combinations of vertical and horizontal lines arranged in patterns contained within squares.  The one on the left links to an article in the Petrie Museum’s blog. The two major benefits of them are that a) QR codes can be generated by anyone using a standard web application and b) they can be scanned by users from print or screen by smart-phones and tablet computers.

    Specimen of the Week: Week Seventy-Four

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 11 March 2013

    Scary MonkeyI am surrounded by 68,000 specimens on a regular basis and feel as though I have a personal relationship with the vast majority of them. I care for the specimens, as any Museum Assistant would, like I knew the animal whilst it was alive, loved it, nurtured it when it was sick, laughed with it, cried with it, and now, in it’s death, I am it’s keeper whilst it sleeps for eternity.


    When you have so many to care for however, it is fascinating to see them through the fresh eyes of someone new to the Museum, or are forming the relationship described above, for the first time. So when I asked a photographer doing a shoot in the Museum recently, out of the specimens he had photographed that day, which was his favourite, his response surprised me. It was not the cute, the cuddly, the impressively large, or notably rare. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Introducing Culture Vulture… Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men: A review

    By Jack Ashby, on 8 March 2013

    Culture Vulture: A vulture skull in UCL Art Museum

    Culture Vulture: A vulture skull in UCL Art Museum

    We’ve been doing a few exhibition reviews on the blog lately, and after the unprecedented success of the new Book Worm series (launched yesterday) we thought to ourselves “what weak animal based cliched pun can we deliver for a new exhibitions review feature?”. I think you’ll agree that “Culture Vulture” was the only option.

    I went along to Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men. The exhibition is the outcome of an excavation by museum archaeologists of a burial ground at the Royal London Hospital in 2006, which uncovered remains that had clearly been used in anatomical dissection. My interest was obvious – last year at the Grant Museum we put on Buried on Campus – an exhibition about the discovery and research into c7000 human remains unexpectedly discovered buried at UCL in 2010, also found to be have been used anatomically. I wanted to see how a museum with a budget tackled the same subject.

    The answer is: exceptionally well. (more…)

    Introducing Book Worm… Mammals of Africa: A Review

    By Jack Ashby, on 7 March 2013

    Book Worm - that's Grant and a lugworm

    Book Worm – that’s Grant and a lugworm

    We’ve tried a few things with our blog here, but so far book reviews haven’t been much of a feature. That may be about to change with our new predictably punned “Book Worm” feature, and to begin with I’m going for one that really is a bit of an event in zoological publishing – Mammals of Africa, published this month by Bloomsbury, and edited by the legendary Jonathan Kingdon (who also beautifully illustrates the series), David and Merridith Happold, Thomas Butyinksi, Michael Hoffman and Jan Kalina.

    My very favourite book to leaf through, because of my own zoological leanings, is Mammals of Australia (Van Dyck and Strahan, 2008). There is something deeply satisfying in completeness, and this book gives detailed and comprehensive information about every single known species of mammal in Australia. Australia is very big, and so is that book. It weighs more than 6kg. Now imagine putting together such a project for Africa, which dwarves Australia in size and variety of biotic zones. It’s a continent more rich in species of rodent than Australia is in species of mammals (and that is to say a lot).

    Mammals of Africa, therefore, is comprised of six 6kg volumes, each tackling one sixth of the continent’s diversity, extensively covering all 1116 extant known species. This is probably why such an undertaking has never been undertaken before. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Seventy-Three

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 4 March 2013

    Scary Monkey WeekAfter all the excitement last week of the celebrity Jar of moles, this week I thought we’d look at a lesser known species that quite frankly, blows my zoologist mind. It lives like a fairy tale character but looks like an extra from Alien. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Now – what’s the first exhibition you think of?

    By Celine West, on 1 March 2013

    I was recently interviewing people for jobs here and one of the questions we asked was “Have you seen any exhibitions recently that really impressed you?” and I thought some of you might be interested to hear what kind of answers we received.

    Obviously, we had those people who were extra keen to impress us who answered “the Octagon gallery at UCL”. Maybe that wasn’t their intention, but it couldn’t help coming across that way. Anyway, people liked this because of its design and the mixture of arts and science topics. They also liked its convenient location, which was possibly a more revealing answer than they realised.

    UCL Octagon Gallery, Edmund Sumner

    UCL Octagon Gallery, Edmund Sumner

    Another popular answer was our neighbours at The Wellcome Collection, with several people describing their experience of Death: A self-portrait People liked the variety of objects and the fact that many different cultures were represented, they spoke about a controversial subject sensitively handled, however some wished it had been more interactive. One person felt there was simply too much in the exhibition (my notes say “museum fatigue”).