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  • Specimen of the Week : Week 178

    By Tannis Davidson, on 10 March 2015

    Scary-Monkey-Week-Nine Happy almost springtime! Longer days and brighter skies herald the coming of the change of season. This year the official start of Spring will be marked by a total solar eclipse on March 20 (get your eclipse glasses ready). When the sun re-emerges from behind the moon, both man and beast can rejoice in the return of the light and the promise of rejuvenation.

    Here at the Museum, it is also time to clean the shelves, tidy the office, refresh the displays and present a brand-new exhibition. From 16 March to 27 June join us for Stange Creatures: The art of unknown animals and explore the world of animal representation.

    While springtime has many different meanings and associations, including representative animals, one animal is perhaps most symbolic of this time of year. In honour of this most springy of selections, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    New Book Chapter: Enhancing Museum Naratives: Tales of Things and UCL’s Grant Museum

    By Mark Carnall, on 16 January 2014

    Image of the cover for The Mobile StoryEarlier this year a book chapter I co-authored with UCL colleagues, deep breath, Claire Ross (Centre for Digital Humanities), Andrew Hudson-Smith (Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), Claire Warwick (Department of Information Studies), Melissa Terras (Centre for Digital Humanities) and Steven Gray (Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)  was published in the volume The Mobile Story, Narrative Perspectives with Locative Technologies.

    The book covers all aspects of when stories meet locative technologies from apps to maps and from dancing with Twitter to haunting public spaces through mobile devices. Our chapter, Enhancing Museum Narratives Tales of Things and UCL’s Grant Museum, examines using mobile media for enhanced meaning making and narrative engagement in museum spaces. (more…)

    The Mechanical Leech – better than the real thing?

    By Jack Ashby, on 31 July 2012

    One of our team of post-graduate researcher/engagers (see what that’s all about on last week’s post) has been talking about the connection between species in the Grant Museum and a nineteenth century mechanical replica, which was designed as a clinical tool.

    It’s on the new Researchers in Museums blog, but to pique your interest here is how Sarah Chaney starts the post off…

    “Leeches! Leeches! Leeches!”
    So ran one particularly enthusiastic nineteenth century advertisement for the animal that has had the most enduring association with medical history. So much so, that one inspired individual decided to make a mechanical version of the creature. During my public engagement sessions in the Grant Museum, I’ve tried asking various visitors to guess what animal the fist-sized metal box was designed to emulate: no one has yet hit on the right answer, even though I usually stand right in front of the leech cabinet. Shiny, clean and angular, where the leech is squat, wet and slug-like, there would appear to be little comparison between the two.

    Indeed, that was the claim of certain nineteenth century leech advocates, who deemed the miraculous little creature itself far gentler than lancet, fleam or scarifier (also called a scarificator: the “mechanical leech” in the illustration, left). The leech secretes a substance called hirudin, which stops the blood from clotting, meaning that one small bite will continue to bleed for around 12 hours after the leech has been removed. I know this well, for, in the pursuit of medical history, I have been leeched not once, but twice, and still have the (tiny) scars to prove it!

    You can read the rest of Sarah’s post on their blog here: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/researchers-in-museums/2012/07/09/leeches-leeches-leeches/

    Engaging Research and Collections

    By Jack Ashby, on 27 July 2012

    When we go to museums we normally know the kind of information we’re going to be engaging with. In natural history museums it’s usually facts about species, minerals and environments; in social history museums it’s cultures and people; in archaeology it’s much like social history but older. At UCL Museums we’ve started an experiment that doesn’t fit this model.

    We have employed a team of UCL post-graduate students to come to each of our spaces a couple of days a week to engage our visitors with their research. They have each found connections between our collections and their disciplines, but they aren’t necessarily what you’d expect. Their PhD’s range from epidemiology and the history of psychology to rhetoric – none of which spark an immediate link to zoology, for example, in most people. (more…)