As a Conservator, I often think of how privileged I am to be able to handle and examine museum objects, up close and personal. Not all objects move me, but at the moment I am very pleased to be working on this one:
My name is Dae Young Yoo and I am the MSc. Conservation student placement with UCL Museums and Collections. One of my objects that I have been assigned to research and conserve is a thermopile from the Physiology Department.
I was recently contacted by the National Army Museum to consult and treat a fluid preserved specimen that is due to be displayed in their newly renovated museum. The specimen is the frostbitten, severed fingertips from Major Michael Patrick ‘Bronco’ Lane. Bronco Lane summitted Mount Everest in 1976, but during this expedition, ran into bad weather and was forced to remove his glove to attach an oxygen bottle to his face mask. An hour after he removed his glove, he found his hand had frozen. The fingertips were removed on his return to the UK.
Have you ever noticed – as you hurry off to class, the library or an event – that UCL’s campus is filled with works of art?
The Wilkins Building, at the heart of the UCL Bloomsbury campus’ main quad, is particularly rich in sculpture. Outside the building, of course, are the iconic lead athletes on the steps below the dome.
These figures have a fascinating history and I will write more about them another time.
Inside the Wilkins Building, there is an abundance of works on permanent display too. Adjacent to the Jeremy Bentham auto-icon are two large, ancient Egyptian limestone lions in excavated by Sir Wm.M.F. Petrie. There are a number of 19th and early 20th century sculptures on either side of the Octagon Gallery; wall paintings in the Whistler Room (soon to be opened to the public); and upstairs, within the library, a myriad of sculpture in and around the 1st floor Flaxman Gallery. (more…)
Last year, the Grant Museum undertook a major conservation project, Bone Idols: Protecting our iconic skeletons, in which 39 of our rarest and most significant skeletons were cleaned, repaired and remounted.
This year the focus will be on our fluid specimens. The Grant Museum has roughly 6000 preserved specimens is varying states of condition. Over the course of the next 12 months, the most ‘in need’ specimens will be rehydrated, remounted, cleaned and put in new jars (if needed). One of the newly-conserved wetties is a much-improved specimen which has generated quite a buzz around the Museum lately…this week’s Specimen of the Week is…
Part of the work that we do as conservators for UCL’s Museums and Collections is to maintain the condition of the various collections. The Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy has approximately 300 fluid preserved specimens on display in the museum and 3500 fluid specimens in the stores.
The Robert Noel Collection of Life and Death Masks consists of 37 plaster casts made in Germany in the 19th Century. As the name suggests the plaster casts were taken of both the living and the dead, and were collected by Robert Noel (a distant relation of Ada Lovelace) to show the ‘truth’ of phrenology, which simply put was the study of the lumps and bumps in people skulls in the belief that this gave insight into a person’s character. In this blog I aim to tell the story of the collection (as we know it now) and gather links to the various blogs, videos, articles that are available online. Enjoy!
When I started working at UCL 4-ish years ago we knew almost nothing about the Robert Noel Collection of Life and Death Masks. In its life at UCL it had been on display in the Galton Eugenics Laboratory, the Slade School of Fine Art and (reportedly) at one point it’s been fished out of a skip. Now, thanks to the work of a number of UCL students, we know so much more – the names of the people represented in the collection, what Noel thought of them and the background to Noel himself. They have also been properly conserved and looked after, so they will survive for another 150 years or so. (more…)
New Year, New Resolutions: Museum Conservation Conversations on the UCL PACE Museums and Collections Blog!SusiPancaldo12 January 2016
The PACE Conservation Laboratory on UCL’s Bloomsbury Campus serves the needs of UCL’s diverse collections. The objects we have examined and treated in 2015 have ranged from fragile inorganic and organic archaeological materials, small sculpture and other works of art, dry- and fluid-preserved zoological specimens, all manner of scientific teaching models, an array of mechanical and electrical scientific instruments, and much, much more!!
These objects have come to our Conservation Lab from UCL’s collections for a variety of reasons. Some need to be cleaned or repaired ahead of use in teaching, research, loan or display. Some present mysteries which close examination and scientific analysis may help unravel. Others have been selected for treatment as part of ongoing programmes to improve the condition of collections currently in storage.
Each object has a story to tell, and with the start of this New Year, we have made a resolution to share the work we do with our blog audiences. (more…)
Climbing up things can be challenging, be it hills, cliffs, trees or stairs. Climbing down, however is arguably far more difficult – your eyes are further from your hand-and foot-holds, your body is pointed in the wrong direction and gravity combines with momentum to pull you down faster than you’d like.
Due* to the many drawbacks of climbing downwards, gliding has evolved many times in the animal kingdom – there are many species which have flaps of skin which form parachutes to slow their descent. Their names often contain the word “flying”, but true flight requires flapping wings. This post is not about flying lemurs, flying frogs, flying dragons, flying snakes, the four-winged dinosaur Microraptor, or even flying squirrels. This week’s Specimen of the Week is the far more accurately named… (more…)
This is a guest blog written by our Senior Conservator Susi Pancaldo.
The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology houses one of the largest and most important collections of Egyptian materials in the UK. About 12,000 of the 80,000 objects are made of ceramic and, of these, roughly 3,400 are on display in the Pottery Gallery!