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  • To Display or not to display?

    By Jenni M Fewery, on 8 July 2014

    While undertaking my Museum Studies Masters at UCL this year, common themes that kept cropping up were the issues that arise when displaying certain subjects or indeed objects. During our Museums: A Critical Perspective class we covered ethnographic collections, ‘Dark Tourism’ and national memory and the debate over displaying human remains. With my interests lying with the history of science and medicine I wanted to find a topic I could sink my teeth into whilst also focusing on museums of science and their methods of display.

    Brown Dog Statue, 1906 with the plaque reading: “Men and Women of England, how long shall these things be?”

    Brown Dog Statue, 1906 with the plaque reading:
    “Men and Women of England, how long shall these things be?”

    In April a UCL Science Collections curator asked me if I would be interested in taking a look at a 1930s dog respirator as a starting point for a dissertation topic. I was informed that the object may have been used during animal experimentation and there were concerns about how to display it responsibly, considering its historic role in experiments to which so many have a negative responses. I researched the history of vivisection – live animal dissection – and discovered the story of the little brown dog. During the early 1900s protests and riots spread through London as anti-vivisectionists campaigned against experimentation on animals in response to the illegal dissection of a little brown dog. Anti-vivisectionists commissioned a bronze statue of the dog to be erected as a memorial, antagonising medical students or “anti-doggers” and resulting in the statue being removed under the cover of darkness. In 1985 another statue, commissioned by the National Anti-Vivisection Society, was erected in Battersea Park and remains there today. (more…)

    Healing Heritage Exhibition

    By Linda Thomson, on 9 August 2011

    ‘Healing Heritage’ depicts the outcomes of a three-year study into the therapeutic benefits of taking museum objects to the bedsides of hospital patients and health care residents. Over 250 participants handled and discussed selections of museum objects with a facilitator in sessions that lasted around 40 minutes. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the results of the study are explored in a public exhibition now showing in UCL’s North Lodge (just North of the UCL Main Gate in Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT). The exhibition explores the way the research was carried out and what participants thought about the activity and the objects. As a result of museum object handling, participants were distracted from their clinical surroundings and showed increases in levels of psychological wellbeing and happiness. The exhibition dates have been extended until 16th August so if you happen to be passing, do take advantage of this unique opportunity to look at some of the innovative research carried out at UCL. The exhibition is free, has wheelchair access and is open to the public, 9am to 5pm (weekdays only). For further information contact: linda.thomson@ucl.ac.uk