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Archive for March, 2014

Specimen of the Week: Week 127

Emma-LouiseNicholls17 March 2014

We have some great skeletons at the Grant Museum, all of which are dinosaurs, if you listen to five year old children. Actually we don’t have any large dinosaur skeletons, but that doesn’t stop children gleefully shouting “Mummy, mummy, a dinosaur”.  One such big skeleton, not a dinosaur, but related, is this week’s Specimen of the Week… (more…)

A Fusion of Worlds – Negro Aroused (1935) by Edna Manley

Debbie JChallis15 March 2014

One of the great pleasures of working on exhibitions is finding out about history, technologies or artists you never knew much (or anything) about before. While working with Gemma Romain from UCL Equiano Centre on A Fusion of Worlds. Ancient Egypt, African Art and Identity in Modernist Britain, I learnt a great deal more about the influence of Ancient Egypt on the Harlem Renaissance and African-American activism. I already knew quite a lot about Jacob Epstein’s use of ancient art in his work but did not know how much he admired contemporary African sculpture. I only knew the artist Ronald Moody from his bust of his brother Harold Moody – founder of the League of Coloured Peoples in the UK in 1931 – which used to be in display in the National Portrait Gallery. I had, however, never knowingly come across the artist Edna Manley before. (more…)

The Grant Museum’s Third Birthday

JackAshby14 March 2014

History is a funny thing – we can create a boundary in time, hit reset, and restart the clock whenever we like. We did exactly that three years ago tomorrow, when the Grant Museum 2.0 reopened in our current location on 15th March 2011. In truth we are one of the oldest natural history collections in the country – founded in 1828 (or possibly 1827), but it took a while to become more than just a mass of specimens, and only became a Museum with a capital M in 1997. Reset has been hit a number of times in the past 186 years, but here we celebrate the latest counter ticking round to Three.

The year in numbers
20624 visitors during normal opening hours (up 25% on last year)
15999 participants in our events (up 60% on last year)
5141 school and FE students in museum classes
2454 university students in museum classes
216 objects accessioned
138 blog posts
16 loans
12 Underwhelming Fossil Fish
1 most inspiring museum in the UK
0 objects acquired

Silverware
We may be a dusty Victorian collection in an Edwardian library (more…)

On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Hill Years

Emma-LouiseNicholls13 March 2014

‘The Thirteen’

The collection of specimens, known since 1997 as the Grant Museum of Zoology, was started in 1827 by Robert E. Grant. Grant was the first professor of zoology at UCL when it opened, then called the University of London, and he stayed in post until his death in 1874. The collections have seen a total of 13 academics in the lineage of collections care throughout the 187 year history of the Grant Museum, from Robert E. Grant himself, through to our current Curator Mark Carnall.

Both Grant and many of his successors have expanded the collections according to their own interests, which makes for a fascinating historical account of the development of the Museums’ collections. This mini-series will look at each of The Thirteen in turn, starting with Grant himself, and giving examples where possible, of specimens that can be traced back to their time at UCL. Previous editions can be found here.

Number Six: James Peter Hill (1906-1921) (more…)

A Piece of a Giant Jigsaw: a newly re-discovered pot from Naqada

Alice EStevenson11 March 2014

A garage in Cornwall, UK, seems an unlikely place for a piece of prehistoric Egyptian culture to turn up. But a few months ago it did.

I was recently contacted by a couple, Guy Funnell and Amanda Hawkins, who had just watched the BBC documentary The Man Who Discovered Egypt which profiled the career of Flinders Petrie. The name rang a bell and reminded them of a little broken pot they had tucked away in storage. Associated with it was a yellow, curling label bearing the title ‘Libyan Pottery’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Message in a bottle: label found with a Predynastic pot in Cornwall. A clue!

(more…)

Focus on the Positive

Dean WVeall11 March 2014

We’ve hosted a variety of events (film nights, game shows etc) in the Grant Museum

Voting

Voting

but none have been quite like Thursday 27th February’s event. That event saw our speakers talking about Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, London’s bats, faecal digesters and molecular biology all trying to cajole, convince and in one case bribe the audience to win the £2,000 prize. The event in question was Focus on the Positive.

(more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week 126

Emma-LouiseNicholls10 March 2014

This week’s specimen is a big fan of travel, loves its food, prefers to live in warm environments, enjoys hanging out in restaurants, and hates the cold with a passion. This is all a perfect description of myself. But don’t worry, given that this blog is set to include pictures of the specimen in question, I thought I’d spare you and make it about something else, a specimen with whom I happen to have a lot in common. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Pottery Project Guest Blog: Pondering Petrie’s Broken Pots

Alice EStevenson7 March 2014

Guest Blog by Grazia di Pietro

In the second in our series of different perspectives on Egyptian pottery Dr Grazia di Pietro, UCL Marie Curie Research Fellow, looks at what we can learn from incomplete fragments of prehistoric pottery.

For museum curators finding room in a gallery for exhibiting nice whole pots can be as challenging as trying to answer questions like: What was their function, context of use, symbolic meaning?. Answering these questions is also one of the objectives of pottery specialists researching in field projects or in ceramic analysis laboratories. However – needless to say – the pottery they have to deal with is often very different from what can be observed in a museum case.

Let’s go back for a moment to the initial issue: finding space for our pots! Well, they would occupy less room if broken in small pieces and (obviously) even less space if some of these potsherds were discarded or piled in a corner, irrespective of their previous location and sorting… We would eventually have created something similar to that which archaeologists frequently face in an excavation: tons of broken vessels (but still with great informative potential!).

Pottery piece: Rim sherd with red polished surface and white painted decoration (Petrie’s "Cross-Lined ware" C-Ware)

Pottery piece: Rim sherd with red polished surface and white painted decoration (Petrie’s “Cross-Lined ware” C-Ware)

(more…)

Museum Training for the World

EdmundConnolly7 March 2014

UCL is launching a new project with the British Council to help develop and teach new methods of Museum management. The Museum Training School opened this week and is aimed at mid-career professionals who are aspiring to be emerging leaders in the museum sector.

bc-ucl-mts-logo-black

(more…)

On the Origin of Our Specimens: The Minchin Years

Emma-LouiseNicholls6 March 2014

‘The Thirteen’

The collection of specimens, known since 1997 as the Grant Museum of Zoology, was started in 1827 by Robert E. Grant. Grant was the first professor of zoology at UCL when it opened, then called the University of London, and he stayed in post until his death in 1874. The collections have seen a total of 13 academics in the lineage of collections care throughout the 187 year history of the Grant Museum, from Robert E. Grant himself, through to our current Curator Mark Carnall.

Both Grant and many of his successors have expanded the collections according to their own interests, which makes for a fascinating historical account of the development of the Museums’ collections. This mini-series will look at each of The Thirteen in turn, starting with Grant himself, and giving examples where possible, of specimens that can be traced back to their time at UCL. Previous editions can be found here.

Number Five: Edward Alfred Minchin (1899-1906) (more…)