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  • Archive for September, 2018

    Specimen of the Week 360: The Pinktoe Tarantula

    By Hannah Cornish, on 28 September 2018

    Specimen of the Week this week is a lovely, fluffy little chap. Despite his fearsome reputation, he means you no harm (unless you are a grasshopper, cockroach or small lizard). With spider season upon us and Halloween around the corner it is the perfect time to convince you he’s not-so-spooky….

    Tarantula Avicularia sp. LDUCZ-J82

    Tarantula Avicularia sp. LDUCZ-J82

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    Public Engagement with UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre

    By Anna E Garnett, on 26 September 2018

    Rebecca Lambert is a long-time volunteer of the Petrie Museum, and in this guest blog Rebecca reports on a recent engagement session which she led with UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre. 

    As a volunteer at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology I am very keen to engage with people from all walks of life and to help make the museum collection accessible to all. Earlier this summer I was asked to assist with the preparation and delivery of offsite activity for the UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre as part of the UCL Discover Summer School for potential UCL undergraduates.

    Pyramid Text fragment of Pepy I (UC14540)

    The brief was to create an Ancient Egyptian based activity which would be suitable for young adults with an age range of approximately 16-18 years of age. There were to be twelve participants who each had differing levels of hearing loss. Some of the students communicated solely through British Sign Language (BSL), whilst others would use a combination of sign language and lip reading. Some of the students could communicate verbally, whilst some could not. To create an activity which would be accessible, challenging, but most of all, fun, I had to decide on a format which would enable the students to explore Ancient Egypt. I decided that the session should primarily focus on the visual and not rely on convoluted descriptive narratives which can appear wearisome, especially to teenagers. This being the case, I opted to download three different empty cartouche designs. I also brought copies of images of particularly striking inscribed objects in the Petrie Museum collection, which are illustrated here.

    Calcite vessel with the names of Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenamun (UC16021)

    After a brief introduction to Egyptian hieroglyphs, which was translated by BSL interpreters, I asked the students to create their own cartouches using either hieroglyphs from the ancient Egyptian period or by creating their own individual hieroglyphs. The key element was that the students had to create a visual representation of themselves which would be accessible to others. The brief suggested that the simpler the images, the easier it would be for others to understand the message being conveyed. However, it was ultimately up to the students to decide how simply, or elaborately, they wished to depict themselves.

    The end results were fantastic. Some of the cartouches were very elaborate and highly detailed, whilst others were produced along simpler lines. All, however, showed real thought and a good understanding of the activity brief. I was particularly struck by the use of very similar images being used by different students to convey their perception of themselves in the larger world. The subject of hearing loss was addressed by several the participants. For myself, seeing how young people wish to present themselves to, not only their peers, but the larger world was really refreshing and exciting.

    Limestone stela of the sistrum-player Khereduankh (UC14357)

    The session lasted for ninety minutes and I enjoyed every moment of it. The students were really engaging and seem to really enjoy the activity. They were very keen to learn more about so many aspects of the ancient past and did not only restrict their questions to the subject of Egypt. Being able to effectively communicate with the students, through the assistance of the BSL interpreters, really opened up the session for everyone involved, myself included. Previously I have undertaken training with VocalEyes to enable me to assist visitors with sight loss. After taking part in this session for UCL Discover I am aiming to begin BSL interpretation training this autumn to help further widen collection accessibility for future visitors to the museum.

    New Grant Museum exhibition ‘Agonism/Antagonism’ is open

    By Tannis Davidson, on 21 September 2018

    The Grant Museum is delighted to announce the opening of  Agonism/Antagonism, a new exhibition exploring evolution and genetics through the stunning artworks of multidisciplinary artist Neus Torres Tamarit and computer scientist Ben Murray – the art and science duo known as Phenotypica.

    Acrylic Sculpture. Neus Torres Tamarit

    Acrylic Sculpture. © Neus Torres Tamarit.

    The exhibition is the result of Neus’ residency with the Max Reuter laboratory at UCL Department of Genetics, Evolution & Environment, where she has been immersed in the research, techniques and tools used to study the genetic evolution of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

    Dr. Max Reuter and his team use fruit flies to conduct research into the evolution of sexual dimorphism. In sexually reproducing species, the genetic needs of the two genders are often in direct conflict; a phenomenon known as sexual antagonism. The tension between the genders is eventually broken by mutations that decouple the traits in males and females, resulting in new differences (dimorphisms) between them.

    Acrylic Sculpture. Neus Torres Tamarit

    Acrylic Sculpture. © Neus Torres Tamarit.

    Reflecting the aesthetic environment of the laboratory and exploring the uneasy alliance that exists between males and females of a species, Agonism/Antagonism is the intersection between art, science and technology. Artworks include bioplastic sculptures which float among the skeletons, digital art and projections, animated explorations of genetic antagonism in virtual reality and CT scans of fruit flies.

    Gender A - Gender B. Neus Torres Tamarit.

    ‘Gender A – Gender B’. Neus Torres Tamarit. 2018.

    Neus and Ben are interested in how artworks about genetics interact with the subject and with the audience, and how accurately such artworks present their scientific concepts. The aim of their work is to remove the boundaries that often separate science from the rest of human activity and reveal the creativity and beauty in scientific research and discovery.

    Agonism/Antagonism runs until 22nd December 2018. Full details on the exhibition’s website.

    The Grant Museum of Zoology is open from 1–5pm Monday to Saturday. Admission is free and there is no need to book.

    Tannis Davidson is the Curator of the Grant Museum of Zoology

     

     

    Specimen of the week 359: The Infant Elephant Molar

    By Christopher J Wearden, on 21 September 2018

    If you were to look inside your mouth (I hope) you would see four different types of teeth: the incisors, canines, premolars and molars. As omnivores with varied diets, humans need these different types of teeth to eat. Our molars are used for chewing, crushing and grinding the food which has been gripped, torn and sliced by the incisors, canines and premolars. Like the animal kingdom itself animal teeth are incredibly varied in their shape and size, making them a fascinating topic of study. Today’s specimen comes from an animal with fewer types of teeth than humans, but considerable size to make up for it. Without further ado let’s get our teeth into this week’s Specimen of the Week…

    Infant elephant molar, Elephas maximus LDUCZ-Z250

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    Specimen of the Week 358: Sternum and ribs in rickets

    By Subhadra Das, on 14 September 2018

    Today’s specimen of the week comes from UCL Pathology Collections. The Collections are displayed at the UCL Pathology Museum at the Royal Free Campus of the UCL Medical School in Hampstead. The museum includes a medical teaching collection of nearly 3,000 specimens of human remains illustrating the history of disease. To open up these specialist medical displays to a wider audience, we’ve developed a trail of 10 specimens of well known diseases. As the museum only opens to the public for special events, we’re sharing the trail as part of the Specimen of the Week series.

    Sternum and ribs in rickets

    The sternum and ribs of a 2-year-old showing advanced rickets.

    All of the entries for the UCL Pathology Collections Top 10 Medical Trail have been written by Nazli Pulatmen, who worked with us for her MA Museum Studies placement in the summer of 2018. Today’s specimen of the week post comes with a content warning for child death as a result of neglect. We’ve done our best to handle this topic with sensitivity and respect.

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    Object of the Week 357: A Sudanese Tulip in Bloomsbury

    By Anna E Garnett, on 7 September 2018

    The Petrie Museum Manager, Maria Ragan, is leaving us next week to head to pastures new as the new Director of the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery. As a small token of our great affection for everything Maria has done for the Petrie Museum over the past (almost) four years she has been in post, I’d like to offer this beautiful vessel for our Object of the Week – her favourite object in the collection (UC13214). (more…)