Wishing a Happy 258th Birthday to the British Museum

Ok so I may be a few years too late for the big 250th but in defence I was 10 at the time…

The British museum is one of the most iconic and visited museums in the world. No trip to London would be complete without wondering around the galleries for a few hours at least!

Originally founded by the physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) who, not wanting his extensive collection to be broken up after his death, gave it to the nation.  Around 71,000 objects from across the world created a new kind of a museum, one that was not private; not owned by king or the church, freely open to the public with no specific aim. It created a “universal museum”  that was more than simply a collection of curiosities. It was free and open to “all studious and curious persons”. It widened the eyes of the British people to what lay beyond Britain, Europe, even the empire.

Since its opening the museum has remained open (well with the exception of a couple of World Wars) and has seen its attendance rise from 5,000 to 6 million daily visitors. So ‘Happy Birthday’ to the British Museum, you do such wonderful work, put on the most amazing exhibits and continue to feed mine and many, many others geekiness.

 

 

Credits for the beautiful sketch –  www.simoneridyard.co.uk   – so follow her on Instagram it gives me such art envy.

For a full history of the British Museum – www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/the_museums_story/general_history.aspx

note – the British museum also have a great blog and Youtube page (That I am very jealous of) please check it out !

A week at the Mary Rose

Doing work experience often means becoming an ‘office slave’ for a time. My week at the Mary Rose, in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, has disproved this. Working with their team of dedicated volunteers and educators I’ve had an immersive and interesting week, diving into the discovery and preservation of The Mary Rose.

walking around with Robert, a kindly old volunteer, he showed me how to interact with guests, explain artifacts and answering  questions. Picking this up quickly I had a go myself. Despite getting most of the facts wrong it was interesting to see the huddle of people around me when I started to explain an object. You could feel the pressure to get it right; although Robert brought me up on a few things now and then it seems I caught the nack. when you could hear a group with desperately trying to guess the use of… say this ….

it was fairly hard not to intervene when people were consistently explaining its use wrong. I too admittedly was to surprised to learn how they used this oven – and it’s not in the way you may be expecting!

Boil in the bag. no it turns out it’s not just for DofE ! It was used in these huge copper cauldrons filled with water, vegetables such as peas would be boiled in bags while meat could be roasted for the higher ranking officers on the raw fire.

would you now like to guess the age of those bricks?

If you thought for one second that the Mary Rose displayed replicas you would be wrong! Everything except the mortar and plastic ‘shadow’ spade hilt and shovel originated in the 16th century. yep those bricks are over 500 years old- and so is the fire wood!

 

Robert then took me to see the reserve collection, there were over 19,000 or so objects recovered from the wreck but only around 1/3 of these object are on display. One of the objects a sort of wooden ball bearing used for raising the mainsail, had been given to the captains of space shuttle Endeavour in 2011 when he came on a good-will visit. The bearing was given as a present “from one cutting edge technology ship to the other” and both are! ( in respect to their time).

The Mary Rose was a flag ship, an icon in the English navy. Henry Tudor spared no expense on this ship and neither has the Mary Rose Trust. Being able to go ‘backstage’ in this iconic museum in the  Uk’s best attraction 2015 (Won by the dockyard as a whole) was an unbelievable experience. Anyone wishing to study history or archeology …. or both (like me … fingers crossed) should definitely sign up for a week here I promise there will be no slaving office work or rampant filing.

A big thank you to the staff at the Mary Rose for this opportunity and making the week so great!

Barbados national museum

Of course when your on a sports tour with your school the first thing you want to do is visit the local museum and drag your whole team along with you.

The museum was held within the old military prison in old Bridgetown. This building was abiously colonial and defiantly military – shown by the two cannons positioned by the gates.

Not being allowed to take photos I will give you a brief summary of the museum’s contents.

Room one- we walked through the gift shop into long room with poorly attempted  air conditioning. The exhibit showed and described the original tribes of the island. These Stone Age people migrated from nothamerica and artifacts found show this. They also shared the practice of taking narcotics during rituals, the only bit my friends found interesting.

Room two – after the extinction of these intoxicated people the island is not inhabitanted until (essentially) cotton and sugar industries take hold. The experbition at this point became fairly similar to Portsmouth museum. Each case contained relics from the 18th century. Relatively well kept there were display cases of shell ornaments, stuffed animals and horrific memoirs of the largest trade on the island.

Room three – mostly a homage to cases sporting memorabilia from the glory days of the West Indian cricket team. At this point the poor air conditioning got the best of me and I headed for the breezyist bit of shad I could find, only to find that the rest of the team had already done the same.

I took shelter in a small, dark, cool room. As my eyes adjusted I could see the braces for a pair of shackles a knee hight, a small glass window for a lantern to sit behind, and the old supports for a bed. This was the prison cell that any unfortunate millitary personnel would find themselves before there fateful punishment. I instantly decided maybe the heat of the museum wasn’t too bad after all, at least I had been able to walk around.

I steeped out of the cell and walked around the court yard of a bit. Wondering up to the concrete platform in the middle I realised where I was standing immediately. My freind, a vegan, also decided to join me. Telling her this was the spot were excicutions took place turned her face pale (hard to do when your hot and sweaty). As she quickly left I felt inclined to leave with her, the spot had a morbid feel and I felt a bit haunted in that moment.

In conclusion if you happen to find your self forced to visit sunny, beautiful Barbados stop by the museum. It’s a great place despite the poor air con!