The last weekend saw some fantastic weather and some even more celebratory UCL sport. From the 7th March UCL has been part of the London Varsity Series playing against the rival London College, Kings, in a series of six sporting events. For many, sports and college varsities evoke an idea of elitism and aggressive competition, but I must say I disagree and support the idea as a way of encouraging inter-collegiate relations and development.
Flinders Petrie began his autobiography by warning that “The affairs of a private person are seldom pertinent to the interests of others” . Fortunately for both us and his publisher this proved no impediment, and Petrie went on to write about himself, his thoughts and his life’s work at great length.
Petrie was a prolific writer, both in the public and private arena, and we are not short of material to help us learn about his life. But not everything he wrote was wordy. I’d like to introduce you today to a more unexpected side of his penmanship: his personal appointment diaries. (more…)
These three specimens are the latest addition to the Grant Museum collection. Before the museum moved, model maker Tom Payne came into the museum and asked if there were any models he could make for the museum. After some discussion we decided that we’d like to have little life models made of three of our highlight specimens, the quagga, thylacine and dodo. We reference these three specimens a lot but unfortunately, to the untrained eye the skeletons look much like a horse, a dog and a box (now two boxes) of bones. In particular the quagga and thylacine have interesting fur colouration so we wanted to display this and quagga and thylacine skins are in rather short supply these days. (more…)
Moreover began with a challenge to all current students at the Slade to develop their own practice using contemporary media and new modes of thinking while taking the time to consider and appreciate what has gone before. Over the Winter term students were given special access to thousands of remarkable and historically important objects within UCL’s art collections. They explored cabinets and archival boxes to discover a number of hidden treasures: an 18th-century print of a Soho drag queen, an annotated drawing by the arts educator and painter William Coldstream, John Flaxman’s neo-classical plaster models, postcards to Stanley Spencer, paper records used by museum staff to chart the shifting locations of art work – plus more. It has been an exhausting process for the students and myself, but in the main it has been productive and highly rewarding. Out of the 35 proposals submitted, 21 finalists were chosen by a panel from UCL Museums & Collections and the Slade to exhibit their works in the Strang Print Room. (more…)
From a public perspective, objects are what a museum is all about. Yet behind every object is a story, built up from a range of sources and evidence, that enables us to contextualise that artefact and give it some form of meaning. This meaning may change as scholarship advances or audiences diversify. But without that level of research, we would have little more than a lot of nice ‘stuff’ on display.
A crucial link in this chain of information comes from archival sources. The Institute of Archaeology is fortunate in having a range of original field records to support its collections, allowing us to learn more about the circumstances in which material was originally excavated. These also provide a window into the methods and practices of seminal figures in the development of archaeology as a discipline. The tomb cards written by Flinders Petrie and his staff are a classic example.