X Close

Museums & Collections Blog

Home

News and musings from the UCL Culture team

Menu

Specimen of the Week 204: The ringtail skeleton and tail skin

JackAshby7 September 2015

The ringtail skeleton. Bassariscus astutus. LDUCZ-Z1116

The ringtail skeleton. Bassariscus astutus. LDUCZ-Z1116

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been closed to the public while works began to replace our ancient heating system. This means that my favourite parts of the Museum (basically where the marsupials are) have been out of bounds, and so I’ve had to branch out somewhat beyond my usual cabinet to select my Specimen of the Week.

I’ve kept it topical, to link with recent zoological (specifically genital) social media trends, and also to an animal that shares its name with a group of marsupials.

This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

Ask a Curator day 2014

Meg JDobson16 September 2014

 

On Wednesday 17th September UCL Museums will be taking part in the Ask A Curator Day event on twitter. This event is growing year on year, and at the time of writing, this week’s event has 520 museums taking part from 36 countries. We know that asking a question in a museum can sometimes feel intimidating, and that we curators can sometimes be hard to track down. There’s so much to do that we aren’t always the most available group of people (though we really do try).  We are taking part in the day as part of our commitment to make our collections as accessible as possible.

Ask A Curator works like this.  Anyone in the world with a twitter account can tweet a question with the #AskACurator hashtag, and it will be answered by any of the institutions taking part. If you have a specific question for us you can tweet it directly to us @UCLMuseums and one of our staff will do their best to answer you. The Grant Museum of Zoology is taking part using @GrantMuseum, as is the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology on @PetrieMuseEgypt.

In preparation for this I thought I would introduce you to our members of staff taking part…

Jack Ashby – Jack is the Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology. He is responsible for the strategic direction of the Museum, as well as managing the Museum’s resources. Much of his time is spent on creating opportunities for the public to engage with research going on at UCL. A zoologist by training with a particular interest in Australian mammals, he still spends as much time as he can in the field. He’ll be taking questions via @GrantMuseum throughout the day and from the @UCLMuseums account from 12 – 1 pm. (more…)

Why Twitter is good for museums – making discoveries

JackAshby9 April 2014

Using Twitter as a way of building a community of support, engaging people in content and shedding light on life behind the scenes in museums (that we don’t just dust stuff) is too obviously demonstrated by the real world to be spending too much time discussing. Not to mention the power to market events and exhibitions quickly and cheaply – assuming don’t over-use social media as a marketing tool.

On Monday I conducted two pieces of “research” on our collection which sprung up out of the blue and would have been very difficult to solve without turning to our Twitter followers to tap their collective brain to find a quick answer. Both of them were on specimens that begin with “H” and end with “Bill”. Weird.

Tweeting Turtles

Hawksbill turtle showing his interesting eyes LDUCZ-X1177

Hawksbill turtle showing his interesting eyes LDUCZ-X1177

(more…)

The Grant Museum’s Third Birthday

JackAshby14 March 2014

History is a funny thing – we can create a boundary in time, hit reset, and restart the clock whenever we like. We did exactly that three years ago tomorrow, when the Grant Museum 2.0 reopened in our current location on 15th March 2011. In truth we are one of the oldest natural history collections in the country – founded in 1828 (or possibly 1827), but it took a while to become more than just a mass of specimens, and only became a Museum with a capital M in 1997. Reset has been hit a number of times in the past 186 years, but here we celebrate the latest counter ticking round to Three.

The year in numbers
20624 visitors during normal opening hours (up 25% on last year)
15999 participants in our events (up 60% on last year)
5141 school and FE students in museum classes
2454 university students in museum classes
216 objects accessioned
138 blog posts
16 loans
12 Underwhelming Fossil Fish
1 most inspiring museum in the UK
0 objects acquired

Silverware
We may be a dusty Victorian collection in an Edwardian library (more…)

The great zombie apocalypse

RachaelSparks8 October 2013

Curatorial dilemma no 1: how to defend against zombie attack

Curatorial dilemma no 1: how to defend against zombie attack

On September 18th, UCL Museums and Collections participated in a worldwide event on Twitter: Ask a Curator day.  The plan was to have a handful of curators on call to deal with questions as they flooded in from a curious public. The reality was that we didn’t have many queries sent directly to our feed, so we went out into the Twittersphere to seek out interesting questions to answer. As Keeper of the Institute of Archaeology Collections, I spent an hour manning the virtual desk, and found it an interesting experience. (more…)