Forensics – The Anatomy of Crime, Wellcome Collection, Feb 2015

2015-02-24 09.44.33Who killed Lucy Beale? Will Joe Miller go down for Danny Latimer’s death? The nations is gripped by crime, murder and court room drama. Well, you may not have a clue what I am talking about if you don’t watch EastEnders or Broadchurch. But if I mention Jack the Ripper or Dr Crippen then these at least are names that will be familiar. Murder has fascinated us through the centuries, whether it is fact or fiction. Notoriously brutal crime stories often seem to be handed down like folk tales, each generation looks with modern eyes on horrific acts that are never dimmed by the passage of time. Often the only thing that changes is our understanding of the evidence, how quickly forensic methods move on, where once a DNA sample would have been an unimagined weapon in the policeman’s methodology, a whole new armoury is opened up with technical medical advances. Continue reading

Plantastics – Horniman Museum, Feb 2014

2015-02-14 10.28.10Another Valentine’s Day, another romantic trip with all the family in tow. Last year I visited Hampton Court to sample the delights of their Chocolate Kitchen. This year we are off to our favourite family haunt, the Horniman Museum, for the launch of their new ‘family friendly exhibition’ – Plantastic. We while away the journey with a debate on whether we say “Plantastic” with the plant as in aunt or plant more like ant, because that affects the way you say ‘tastic’. Seriously try it yourself to see what we mean. Continue reading

Bethlem Museum of the Mind – Feb 2015

Bethlem Museum of the Mind 1930s hospital administration building

Bethlem Museum of the Mind a 1930s hospital administration building

I am in a peculiar position of having a long, long connection of sorts with Bethlem Hospital and museum, but I have only visited the site recently and only found out about the museum a couple a years ago. I lived about 15 minutes away from the Bethlem Hospital for 27 years, I have, like all local residents been very aware of it’s presence. You only need to do a quick search of the local newspaper to see the kind of headlines and impressions that local people have been given. Sadly they are mainly negative, “Bethlem Hospital secure unit incident attended by police and firefighters”, “Dangerous man still missing from Bethlem”, “No to mental health unit expansion.” Continue reading

Re-imagine: Improving access to the arts, galleries and museums for people with learning disabilities – New report

Royal Academy Family SEN session. Copyright Royal Academy

Royal Academy Family SEN session. Copyright Royal Academy

A few weeks ago ‘Kids in Museums’ drew my attention to a report produced by Lemos and Crane for the City Bridge Trust on improving access for people with learning disabilities, it was a fascinating read and I highly recommend that you take a look. The report looked at art organisations, museums and galleries across London and learning disability specialists from London and across the UK. They sent out an email questionnaire from which they got 81 responses, 47 with projects to share and 34 with nothing to share but who were keen to be kept updated with the results.

Some points I found of most interest from the report are listed below, I have commented after each point (this is just a summary I found of interest, please read the report for the full picture) – Continue reading

How do you teach the First World War?

First World War in the Air

First World War in the Air

I had this moment, I had this awful moment when I saw my son, my beautiful 4-year-old with his hands on the machine gun at the ‘First World War in the Air’ exhibition. A replica of course, a toy, a piece of fun, but it felt very wrong to me. I don’t buy my son toy guns, I don’t want to encourage him to run around shouting “I shoot you”, “You are dead”. But what I have very quickly learnt is that kids have fantastic imaginations. Old toilet rolls become guns, hands are so simply shaped, fingers tucked in, thumb and fore finger out proud.

It is stick up!

It is a stick up!

Continue reading

How do you save a museum?

Bromley Museum under threat

Bromley Museum under threat

Hello, Can you tell me how to save a museum? I don’t know what to do. There are petitions, and letters, questions to put to councillors, concerns and worries, but does any of this work? Budget cuts loom large, councils have to make savings. I don’t know the figures, I don’t know where the savings can be made. I don’t know how to save my museum.

I know things about my museum, they are the emotional, well being, happy things about my museum. They are not the costs, expenditure and salaries. I don’t know how to speak the words that councillors understand, reduction, cost cutting, savings.

But I do have something to say, I wish they would listen, but sadly I don’t think they are. I have written letters, I have attended many meetings I have asked difficult questions but I don’t think it is enough. Finally I turn to a blog. Tonight the council decide on the future of my museum, I will be there and I hope they will read my last plea to save my museum. Below are the things that you can’t put a price on, you can’t quantify easily, but they are the things that matter. Continue reading

1. Natural History Museum Library and Archives – Tinc in Museum Library Land

 

2014-10-07 12.18.37

God, I bloody love libraries. I am a librarian at heart, I have an MA in it, no messing. I have worked in public libraries (where I actually got to stamp books, heaven), law libraries (just don’t mention the Civil Procedure Rules to me), media libraries (I actually have a few credits in the FT, oh yes), and academic libraries (the REF killed those for me). But one little place I have never been in, one special secret library type I am desperate to have a nose in, is the museum library. Continue reading