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  • Archive for February, 2016

    The Age of Revolutions

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 29 February 2016

    Josiah Wedgewood (1730 – 1795), Philippe-Égalité, 1790-2 (White jasper ware, dipped in dark blue, applied jasper ware reliefs)

    Josiah Wedgewood (1730 – 1795), Philippe-Égalité, 1790-2 (White jasper ware, dipped in dark blue, applied jasper ware reliefs)

    Blog post for UCL Art Museum, Revolution under a King exhibition by Dr Susannah Walker, UCL Art History Department

    On 10th February I joined Dr Richard Taws, the co-curator of UCL Art Museum’s current exhibition Revolution under a King: French Prints 1789-92, to give a lunchtime lecture on the prints in the so called “Age of Revolutions”.

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    Underwhelming Fossil Fish of the Month: February 2016

    By Mark Carnall, on 26 February 2016

    February 2016 won’t be remembered as the beginning of the end because nobody will be here to remember it. The plankton are a-shufflingthe seabirds are a-vanishingthe seas, they are arising and the Arctic is a-heating. Was it this bad growing up? It is getting worse and worse. Did we pass the point of no return already? Are we already in the Age of Stupid? Did our children volunteer for this? Can you honestly kiss them goodnight knowing that they’ll grow up with the same liberties and freedoms we enjoyed or will it be a fight for basic survival like so many already endure today?

    [Note to editor. If the intro is ‘too real’ I could change it to something about croissants being straightened but that’s a harder segue.]

    I tell you who won’t be fighting for survival anymore and that’s underwhelming fossil fish, the ‘stars’ of this monthly series, where we take a break from the harsh realities of life to focus on the uncelebratable fishy fragments of the Grant Museum fossil drawers. Why, you ask? Well. It passes the time if nothing else, the most precious resource you have. But who are you kidding? You got this far, you clearly don’t have much pressing on.

    This month’s fossil fish is technically naked so I’d advise having a spreadsheet open in another window that you could Alt+Tab to, to save the blushes of passing colleagues. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week 228: Rough-nosed horned lizard

    By Dean W Veall, on 26 February 2016

    Rough-nosed lizard (Ceratophora aspera) LDUCZ-X431

    Rough-nosed lizard (Ceratophora aspera) LDUCZ-X431

    Hello Specimen of the Week fans, Dean Veall here. We’re mixing it up with our weekly specimen blogs, publishing on Fridays and making them shorter and snappier. So here goes. My main motivation for choosing this specimen is the pure patriotism of a Welsh man exiled here in London. How, you may ask, does this small lizard indigineous to Sri Lanka invoke the land of my fathers, green valleys, cawl and industrial heritage? It be a dragon……

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    A Curator’s Adventures in Documentation Land

    By Subhadra Das, on 25 February 2016

    We all know that museum catalogues lie. I have made it clear that I’m a firm advocate for the agency of museum practitioners. No element of museum practice happens magically by itself in a vacuum, it is enacted by those of us privileged to work with collections. When you start to look at how museum staff present information to each other and to our audiences, though, it becomes clear that our catalogues have been doing a lot of the talking for us. This begs the question, which speaks louder: curatorial actions or the words in digital catalogues? This week’s guest blogger, Ananda Rutherford, explores this question through the looking glass of the Galton Collection online catalogue.

    One of the most controversial collections at UCL is, of course, the Galton Collection. Francis Galton, with his notorious interest in improving humans by selective breeding, or eugenics – the term he coined – is a problematic figure, and preserving a collection of artifacts associated with him for posterity and within the context of the modern university, is troubling. Every element of the way in which he and his collection are presented requires careful consideration.

    Over the past year I have been working on the documentation of the collection with the curator, Subhadra Das. I selected the Galton Collection online catalogue as the focus of a case study for my doctoral research. Subhadra and I have been carrying out various practical tasks to improve the collection’s documentation – or filing as it is also known – and any number of other post-it based displacement activities under the guise of “creating order”. Luckily, we are both in agreement that stationery is the cornerstone of all great intellectual inquiry.

    The working title of my research topic has been “What’s missing (from museum object records)?” but inevitably the question has shifted and multiplied – why is information missing, what information about objects do we expect to see, what do museum documentation professionals record and why, if they know other things why don’t they reference them?

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    Putting human remains on display – people as animals

    By Jack Ashby, on 24 February 2016

    Last week we added a human specimen to our display of animal brains. Why wouldn’t we?

    The real question is why hadn’t we. And the answer is that we weren’t allowed to. The Human Tissues Act (2004) controls how human bodies, organs and tissues are used. Different licenses are required to store, teach with or display human specimens. Until recently, we didn’t have any of these licences for the Grant Museum, which affected what we could include to represent Homo sapiens in our displays.

    A human specimen (centre) has been added to the Grant Museum's brain comparative anatomy display

    A human specimen (centre) has been added to the Grant Museum’s brain comparative anatomy display

    How museums display humans

    There are many ways in which a human might find themself in a museum after they died. (more…)

    Specimen of the week 227: the Indian cobra skull

    By Will J Richard, on 19 February 2016

    Hello blog-heads! Will Richard here tapping out another specimen of the week on my trusty keyboard. And this time I’ve picked out a pretty dangerous customer from Case 16. I’m not an ophidiophobe, though according to Wikipedia about one in three of us are, but this is certainly not a snake I’d like to tangle with.

    LDUCZ-X167 Indian cobra skull

    LDUCZ-X167 Indian cobra skull

    (more…)

    Spotlight on the Slade – February 2016 update

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 17 February 2016

    Anja Olofgörs, Social Constructs, 2015, © The Artist

    Anja Olofgörs, Social Constructs, 2015, © The Artist

    Acquisitions, prize-winning work and the continuing influence of the Slade collection

    As UCL Art Museum’s Spotlight on the Slade project continues, I wanted to share two recent acquisitions, by two very different prize-winning Slade artists, studying and working almost a century apart: Jesse Dale Cast (1900-1976) and Anja Olofgörs (b.1987).

    The acquisitions demonstrate not only the range of work within the Slade, but also how the collection continues to grow, recording the history of teaching and practice at the School, both through a prize system, which was instigated when the Slade was first established, and through subsequent gifts which support use of the collection. (more…)

    The Mystery of the Giant Golden Mole Skull

    By Elizabeth K Pursey, on 16 February 2016

    A mystery skull in bag – ready to identify. LDUCZ-Z850

    A mystery skull in bag – ready to identify. LDUCZ-Z850

    Crawling blindly through tunnels under layers of dead leaves in the coastal forests of South Africa lives the giant golden mole. Most people don’t know it is there, and neither did I until I was presented with the skull of one this October. As this species lives exclusively in a tiny region on the Eastern Cape – most people have definitely never seen one! Who would have guessed that identifying this skull would be the start of my newfound love for these unlikely animals. (more…)

    The terror, the terror!

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 15 February 2016

    Anonymous, Essai de la Guillotine, 1793, UCL Art Museum

    Anonymous, Essai de la Guillotine, 1793, UCL Art Museum

    On 26 January UCL Art Museum hosted a Pop-Up display dedicated to the theme of the French Revolution. This ties in with our current exhibition, Revolution under a King: French Prints 1798-92. As part of our ongoing wish to support UCL students and alumni, the exhibition was curated by volunteers Viktoria Espelund, Shijia Yu and Rosa Rubner. They each chose French Revolutionary prints from our collection and approached the topic from unique perspectives. The rationale behind their selections can be seen below.

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    Animal Facts to Fall in Love With…

    By Rachel H Bray, on 12 February 2016

    In anticipation of Valentine’s at the Grant this Friday (12th February) I have sought out some animal facts which you will otterly love! On Friday the museum will be holding a themed late opening with Valentine’s-related animal tags being placed around the museum. Please excuse the Valentine’s puns – I’ve had a whale of a time writing this!

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