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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Science Research in a Science Museum?

By Mark Carnall, on 30 May 2013

As chance would have it at the same time as we received research interest from the Royal College of Art, colleague Dr Zerina Johanson, researcher in the Earth Sciences Department at the Natural History Museum, had also contacted me about our paddlefish specimens. We have less than a dozen paddlefish specimens in the Grant Museum (fish is the family Polyodontidae, represented today by only two species the American paddlefish Polyodon spathula and the possibly-extinct Chinese paddlefish Psephurus gladius) and fortunately, one of these specimens, matched the specifications for research (in this article I wrote about how ‘usable’ specimens dwindle to tens from thousands depending on the type of research).

So for the second time in May I was on bodyguard duty to escort one of our specimens down to South Kensington for some scanning, this time for SCIENCE!


Should or should not museums be places for debate?

By Celine West, on 5 April 2013

Last week the Museums Association (MA) published the results of its survey of public attitudes to museums. This survey showed all the good news that museum people love to hear – lots of people love museums, our collections, exhibitions and education programmes. As the report says, people have a strong, positive emotional attachment to museums – interestingly, whether they visit or not (1).

A summary of the report lists museums’ essential purposes (as viewed by the public), priority purposes, on down through low priority purposes. For example, an essential purpose is “creating knowledge for, and about, society” and a priority purpose is “promote happiness and wellbeing”. This list of purposes ends, however, with a couple of things under the heading “purposes challenged by the public” i.e. “what people think museums should Not be doing” and one of these is “providing a forum for debate”.


People discussing objects and subjects in the mirrored outreach box called The Thing Is



Crimes against curators

By Rachael Sparks, on 13 February 2012

It’s a Monday, which is always a tough day, as the emails have had all weekend to pile up and all the things you didn’t manage to do last week now need to be done even more urgently this week. So maybe this is a good day to share some of my personal candidates for a museums’ version of Room 101. (more…)

Prestigious award for UCL Museums & Collections

By Linda Thomson, on 4 October 2011

A team of researchers from UCL Museums & Collections has just been awarded a Certificate of Commendation by the Royal Society for Public Health Arts and Health Awards Committee for their ‘Heritage in Hospitals’ project. The award was made in recognition of the excellent and ground-breaking character of the research, and the valuable outcomes for participants. The Committee was particularly impressed by the range and quality of publications arising from this work.

This innovative programme was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and carried out in conjunction with University College London Hospitals (UCLH) Arts programme. In facilitated sessions lasting around 40 minutes, patients were invited to handle and discuss a selection of museum objects with a view to assessing the impact of this activity on health and wellbeing. If you have any comments or thoughts about this research please get in touch with the project team – we’d love to hear from you.

For more information about the ‘Heritage in Hospitals’ project go to: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/research/touch/wellbeing

Or email:

Dr Helen Chatterjee, Project Leader: h.chatterjee@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Linda Thomson, Lead Researcher: linda.thomson@ucl.ac.uk