A problem worthy of Sherlock Holmes himself, how do you tell the story of a man who has never lived and will never die? I have been contemplating this conundrum ever since I heard the Museum of London was following up a blockbuster Cheapside Hoard exhibition with a close up look at the master detective. As the months have passed and I have been up in conservation or down in the store in my role as a volunteer at the Museum of London, I have seen tantalising sheets of tissue paper laid over mysterious objects. My eyes have been drawn to the ‘Don’t Touch – Sherlock’ signs scribbled in different hands, laid gently over indecipherable lumps and bumps. Strangely they have held me in their thrall, for once I have not been tempted to peek or snoop, I have been waiting for the big reveal and the day has come, the wait is over. Continue reading
I always find autism blogs hard to write because they mean so much more to me than anything else I write. This is the important stuff, this is making the world a better place for my daughter and I am always struggling to find the right words to make the most impact. When I heard back in July that the RAF Museum based at Hendon had won an Autism Access Award I was so excited, here was a museum shouting to the world that they support autistic visitors, and I hoped the museum world would sit up and take notice. I couldn’t wait to arrange a meeting with Ellen Lee, Education Officer at the museum to hear about the award, why they decided to go through the process, what changes they made and what the award means for the museum going forward. Continue reading
The Horniman Museum for me is all about memories, tradition and family. I remember trips with my parents, I take my children, we go often, we spend time together and make new memories all the time. The new Horniman exhibition may be all about Romania but it is also about tradition, family, what it means to fit in, what it means to belong, what you need around you to keep those treasured memories alive when you have travelled far from home. I was late to the opening of this exhibition but luckily I didn’t miss the shot of țuică on my way in. Too late to head straight to the exhibition, I listened to the speeches of welcome and explanation of why the Romanian collection at the Horniman Museum is so much more than objects and stories, but the heart of a strong relationship that stretches back to a Romanian exhibition the Horniman put on in 1957. Continue reading
Blogging has really begun to take over my life a little bit, something for a long time I kind of knew but hadn’t admitted to myself. I panic now if I enter an exhibition or museum without my notebook and phone to document my reactions and capture my thoughts. I have got to a stage now that I don’t want to visit a museum for the first time unless I know I also have the time to write a blog about my visit. Those first impressions are so important, your thoughts on first entering, the objects that capture your attention. It is very hard to recreate those first moments, you so quickly become inured to a museums’ charms.
I just knew the Grant Museum of Zoology was going to be unusual, so I was waiting to fit in a visit when I had the time to write a blog post. With my weeks planned months in advance, days filled with school runs, nursery pick up and general mothering duties, my one day of museum immersion a week is so precious and always so packed. I decided I couldn’t wait for a blog window any longer, the pull was too strong. I found myself with an hour or so to spare and so I finally, eagerly, sought out UCL‘s little gem. I wasn’t going to write a blog but as is so often the case when I visit an amazing museum, I just can’t help myself. Continue reading
I have been reading a lot about curators recently, and coming hot on the heels of Ask A Curator day on Twitter, it feels the right time for another post on that most intriguing of museum artefacts – the curator. My first post in this series was all about Curator Engagement and was inspired by Extreme Curator, that particular episode spawned a whole Lego curator alter ego which you can read about here. No Lego this time I promise, instead I am linking curators with something equally as surprising and a little bit different – gardening – bizarre I know, but I hope by the end it will all make sense.
Back in 2009 I went to a debate at the London School of Economics, where I was working at the time, to listen to Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate and Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum discuss the Museum of the 21st Century. I never expected to be so drawn in by the debate and excited by the opportunities of a future museum, my eyes were also opened to the challenges as well as the possibilities. It was way before I began volunteering in museums, but I guess the spark was lit that day, my interest became so much more than one of casual visitor.
Now four years down the line, I have come to another debate, on the future of the British Museum. I come to it as a volunteer in three different museums, large and small, I experience museums in a whole new way, I am also a friend of the British Museum and a regular visitor. This, the first of three debates is all about exploring how the building and its public spaces need to evolve. A panel of cultural professionals, artists and museum directors will kick the debate off by sharing with us their thoughts and ideas. I am excited and intrigued by the whole role of public debate, but my slight concerns it may run down alleyways of trivialities and personal grievances are allayed when the chair of the panel Liz Forgan, in good humour, admits the toilets are bad and best left to one side as a topic for discussion. Continue reading
I can’t remember when I last visited the Queen’s House at Greenwich, but I remember the beautifully enticing spiral stairs and the dazzling marble floor in the Great Hall. It is funny how some details stick in your mind, whilst others just seem to disappear. I have no idea why I came on my last visit, if it was in summer or winter, on my own or with my family, but I do know it is great to be back. Today is all about the Art and Science of Exploration 1768-80, a new exhibition on the artists who joined Captain Cook on his three voyages of discovery. The architectural splendour of the Queen’s House will have to play second fiddle today to the landscapes of William Hodges and the botanical illustrations of Sydney Parkinson.
There is so much context to the paintings in this exhibition, I spend a great deal of time listening to the curators, as they talk it is almost like they are painting their own pictures, building up the layers of story and interpretation to give you the complete picture. Without their expertise it is like looking at simple line drawings, their research and the time they have spent working with these pictures enables their words to really bring them to life. Here are paintings where you need to understand their stories and what they represent to really appreciate their importance and impact. Continue reading