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  • Archive for January, 2014

    New Book Chapter: Enhancing Museum Naratives: Tales of Things and UCL’s Grant Museum

    By Mark Carnall, on 16 January 2014

    Image of the cover for The Mobile StoryEarlier this year a book chapter I co-authored with UCL colleagues, deep breath, Claire Ross (Centre for Digital Humanities), Andrew Hudson-Smith (Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), Claire Warwick (Department of Information Studies), Melissa Terras (Centre for Digital Humanities) and Steven Gray (Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)  was published in the volume The Mobile Story, Narrative Perspectives with Locative Technologies.

    The book covers all aspects of when stories meet locative technologies from apps to maps and from dancing with Twitter to haunting public spaces through mobile devices. Our chapter, Enhancing Museum Narratives Tales of Things and UCL’s Grant Museum, examines using mobile media for enhanced meaning making and narrative engagement in museum spaces. (more…)

    Petrie in Britain: The Stonehenge years

    By Edmund Connolly, on 14 January 2014

    Flinders Petrie is most famous for his extensive work in Egypt, but one of his first archaeological projects was far closer to home and took place in Wiltshire. England plays host to many iconic heritage institutions and monuments, but perhaps the most recognisable is a ring of stones that have beguiled archaeologists, historians and tourists for millennia.
    Petrie's Stonehenge survey

    Petrie’s Stonehenge survey

     
    (more…)

    The Western Australian shark cull

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 14 January 2014

    The Situation
    Twenty deaths have occurred in Western Australia due to sharks, over the last one hundred years (1). On one hand every life lost is a tragedy. On the other hand 20 deaths over 100 years, is nothing compared to other causes of death such as obesity, car accidents and even lightning. Each year, more people get killed by toasters worldwide than sharks. Nevertheless, the government decided action was needed to reduce the number of shark-related marine traumas and three years ago proposed a cull. This proposal was overturned in favour of investing $1.7 million into establishing four research projects at the Department of Fisheries in Western Australia to run from 2011-12 to 2015-16. The outline of these projects was to study shark ecology and behaviour, with the intended outcome of ‘improved capability to manage shark hazards’ (2). Sadly, a shark related marine trauma occurred at the end of 2013, which resulted in the death of a young father of two. Despite the rarity of such cases, and the yet to be completed research projects at the Department of Fisheries, the incident provoked a knee-jerk reaction* from the WA government in the guise of another proposal for a shark cull in Western Australia. In an official statement to the press, the WA government stated that the cull would comprise three major components (1): (more…)

    Lighting up the Petrie Museum

    By Edmund Connolly, on 13 January 2014

    Guest blogger: Pia Edqvist

    As people might have realized, the Petrie Museum is currently closed throughout January and February. But why is the Museum closed? The Museum is currently undertaking essential lighting works; the whole museum is getting new lighting including; spot and overhead lights but also new lighting within the display cases. This means that the collection will be better lit and a more environmentally-friendly system will be installed which will also ensure greater conservation-protection for the collection. We are also hoping that the new lighting system will improve the visitor’s experience of the collection. Further enhancements of the display are also planned during this period such as to improve the mounting of objects.

    The Pottery being packed up

    The Pottery being packed up

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 118

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 13 January 2014

    This is the 500th post on the Museums and Collections blog! That is a lot of information we have researched, written and sent out into the ether for your pleasure. I hope you appreciate our efforts? Cropping up in many of the blogs by the Grant Museum is the jar of moles, who’s celebrity status is undeniable. It sits in full view of the adoring public as they rush through the door, having queued up outside the Museum waiting for us to open, in order to catch a glimpse of the sacred specimen. Hordes of people can be heard talking about it on a daily basis, and an internet search for ‘jar of moles’ brings up several pages referencing the Museum and our specimen. However last week, a lady came to speak to me at the Museum and said with an uneasy smile “That jar of moles is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, it makes me feel sick”. At first I thought Clearly you haven’t seen the Surinam toad but then I thought Hah! How rare it is to have someone disapprove of this really quite bizarre spectacle of a specimen. How lovely! It got me thinking what else might be perceived as disgusting and as such, I arrived at this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    True and False Animals

    By Mark Carnall, on 10 January 2014

    When the language of biology meets common parlance there’s often a lot of confusion. Biological nomenclature (often called the scientific name, we are Homo sapiens sapiens* for example)  is by and large controlled using strict rules, format and notations but there aren’t quite so strict rules when it comes to the common names of animals or groups of animals. Some animals we refer to by their taxonomic name, for example; Tyrannosaurus rex, Hippopotamus, Octopus** and Bison. For other animals however, their common, useful to most people and widely understood names create all kinds of problems for the pedantic as I’ve written about before when is comes to sea stars vs starfish. My colleague Jack Ashby wrote about when it comes to seals and sea lions. Consider also that a musk ox is a goat-antelope, horseshoe crabs aren’t crabs at all and the Grant Museum favourite: flying lemurs aren’t and don’t.

    The idea of ‘true’ and ‘false’ animals can also be misleading and a lot of pub discussions/arguments/bets come from animals which aren’t what they are often called or even named. How do some animals end up as the ‘true’ and ‘false’ versions of their group. Let’s have a look at some ‘true’ animals and see how the philosophical concepts of truth has ended up in our zoological lexicons.
    (more…)

    The Top Ten Grant Museum Blogs of 2013

    By Jack Ashby, on 9 January 2014

    Happy New Year!
    As well as looking forward to the exciting things we hope to do in the coming year, it is customary to look back at the past one. On Twitter over the past week I’ve been tweeting the best of 2013’s blog – the Top Ten most viewed Grant Museum posts of last year.

    I’ve announced those ranking at 10 to 2 in the charts, and exclusively revealing here that the most popular post of 2013 is…

    Will a museum studies degree help you get a job in a museum?

    Perhaps suggesting that there are many people interested in the incredibly amazing careers in museums, yet are aware of the fact that finding a way in is easier said than done.

    The Top Ten in full: (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week 117

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 6 January 2014

    A brand new year and a brand new Specimen of the Week, hoorah for both. I learnt the other day that the average (western, I presume) human consumes SIX THOUSAND calories on Christmas Day. That’s ridiculous. Though thinking back to the family festivities in which I partook on Christmas Day just gone, I suspect I may be one of them. So perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be to stick to a diet more like this specimen would have had. It would be much better for me I am sure, though in life, it would also have got a lot more exercise than I do too, and I feel it way too optimistic to think that that is going to change. But then, my skeleton is not quite the same as his/hers, which I feel is an adequate excuse. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    How To: Beat a Shark in a Fight

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 2 January 2014

    How To: Beat a Shark in a Fight

    Let’s not pussyfoot around with some measly small-spotted catshark or krill sucking basking shark. Let’s dive straight into the deep end and talk about the legend… the great white shark. Should you ever find yourself face to face with one of the most awe-inspiring predators in the world with no way out, here are some handy tips on how to beat a shark in a fight.

     

    Rub its nose

    Great white sharks have very sensitive snouts. The snout is covered in tiny pits called ampullae of lorenzini which if you get close enough, look like little black dots. These pits are filled with a jelly-like substance that allows the shark to sense electromagnetic fields given off by muscle contractions. Short of stopping your own heart and being stiller internally than a corpse, the best way to work around this ‘sixth sense’ of the great white shark is to over stimulate the ampullae of lorenzini by rubbing them. In smaller species, divers have discovered they can place sharks in a state of ‘hypnosis’ which they call tonic, by rubbing these pits. The shark becomes motionless and can even be manipulated in the water. So, work your best massage skills on the nose of the great white shark and it might put its lights out long enough for you to make a dash for it. (more…)