Showing posts from April, 2006

Neanderthal not stupid just lonely

Ofer Bar-Yosef, FSA, four authors in the February issue of the US journal Current Anthropology ‘Middle and Upper Palaeolithic hunting behaviors in the Southern Caucasus’ suggests that the hunting and technology of Neaderthal and Homo Sapiens were comparable but that the neaderthals lived in small, sedentary and isolated groups more susceptible to disaster than the more mobile homo sapiens.

Light Surgeons at the Geffrye Museum

Went to the Geffrye Museum to see Domestic Archaeology by the Light Surgeons . It is 'a mixed-media installation that will take visitors through a kaleidoscopic, audio-visual investigation of the living room and its meanings' . Very appropriate for the Geffrye - it consists of a few very good set piece projections unto furniture - kitchen table' bed etc; large projections onto walls showing domestic interiors and talking heads; and found objects of the type reminisicent of all our yesterdays. Projections were amusing and the room projections gave insight into a range of interiors. Found objects just seemed too obvious to me - all the sort of stuff we sort of people remember. But otherwise well worth visiting. The Geffrye has become the perfect museum for the Sunday Afternoon - nearby, you can park near it, a bit of brain fodder but not too much, a nice cafe, an interesting installation, a garden to walk around. There and back with brain recharged (lightly) in h

Modernism Exhibition V&A

I went to the Modernism Exhibition at the V&A - a bit disappointed to be truthful. I tend to judge exhibitions by what I learnt - not the little facts but the big revelations and I did not feel this gave me much. Lots of information, lots of interesting images but I don't think I understand modernism that much more. I guess if you did not have much knowledge of modernism you would learn a lot but if you know a bit what did I learn that was new? What I did learn was that Walter Gropius of the Bauhaus believed that modernism should not be symetrical. Now this was a true revelation because all the things that people hate about British post 60's modernism is its uniformity and dull listless symetry. It found a place in my mind because when we went to Boston and saw buildings by Le Corbusier and Gropius that was the very thing that impressed me about their work - the adventure of the lines, the wonderful use of light and space, a real revolution. Its just that the follow

Empire - How Britain made the Modern World

Empire - How Britain made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson Allen Lane, 2003 Just finished reading this book of the TV series. It is an interesting introduction to the history of the British Empire - perhaps a little too introductory if you have much knowledge of the period. It gets better towards the Victorian period, and the discussion on the future of Imperialism is quite good. The question he seems to set himself is 'Was the Empire a Good Thing?' He does depict the use of force and the rascism of some of the Imperialists and the use of the Maxim Gun. He also shows that the Empire was held by the British with a remakrably low military budget. Among the advantages of Empire was the provision of free trade, an impartial civil service and a relatively high standard of government IF you compare it with the alternatives. He suggests that economically the Empire was a good thing and shows that many Empire territories have declined since the end of Empire. He seems

Google Api and Old St Thomas Hospital tour

I spent a day trying to improve my use of the Google Api to make maps for use on the Old Operating Theatre Museum. I was not getting anywhere until I came across this web site. which has a great routine and creates the entire thing for you! I feel a little annoyed in so far as it took me ages to find out how to do it and here is a page which does it for you without any sweat at all! Wonderful page! Try out the walk and let me know what you think just click on the markers

Creating Flash Movies using Motion Artist 2

I have just created my first Flash animations for web sites - used it to create a flash banner advertising our guided walks from the Theatre Museum - it is a little basic using the Wizard but it pretty easy to do. But I also practiced making menus and movies. It is quite simple and seems fairly powerful - you can integrate sound but I could see no way of integrating video clips. No idea how it compares with Director and other programmes but given that I got it free as a full produce on the cover of a computer disc it works pretty good. I have now made some progress in technology so that I can create a video from computer screen using Easy Capture, can edit videos using VirtualDub, AVE Video Editor, videoimpression and muvee, and have begun to create a podcast.

The House of Healing begins here?

We received a letter from the landlord of St Thomas Church which gives us a purchase price! Very scary - seems like the project is finally on! Could be a big day for the Museum.

Bethlem Museum

I updated the web site of the Bethlem Museum and Archive to give information on their latest exhibitions. One on a very interesting artist called John Prastitis and the other called Insanity in Focus - have a look at

London Architectural Biennale Walks

I updated the web site to day to include information on the London Architectural Biennale Walks I am organising. They are going to be really good with a dialogue between an archaeologist and an architect. Took the time to update the look of the web site Have a look at

Find that Lecture!

You might be interested to visit: This is a web site that lists upcoming lectures - it is beginning to have a fairly good coverage now - you can keep track of lectures at particularly institutions or you can track lectures in particularly subjects such as archaeology. Its worth visiting from time to time if you want the mental stimulation of visiting a lecture.

'History is an Angel......'

According to Time Out interview between Sarah Kent and RCA Curating student Charlotte Bonham-Carter, Laurie Anderson's 'The Dream Before ' has a line 'history is an angel being blown backwards in the future'. Charlotte is reported as saying 'history is still alive, you go back in order to project forwards'. The quotes sum up the historical process in a neat way, without the deadening impact of the relativism of post-structuralistic deconstruction! The RCA's curating course is putting on an exhibition of 14 artists at the RCA called 'Again for Tomorrow' exploring the using the past to imagine the future.

Judas is Just Alright

A new translation of a Gnostic Text presents Judas as just doing what he had to to fulfil Jesus' mission. For more details

Quickmap of London

Very fun animated maps of London and its transport system! Have a look at:

School visit to the Museum

Just found this web site on visit london which is record of children's work following a visit tot he Old Operating Theatre Museum. look at:

Southwark Attractions Meeting

I attended the Southwark attractions meeting which was held in the new Unicorn Theatre in Southwark. Amazing how much it has changed since the last time I attended one of these meetings ( 5 years ago?). Amazing how the area has changed in that time too - it is now becoming a major 21st Century centre. (new Hilton Hotel) Much more energy, much more public sector involvement - Southwark Council, London Development Agency, Visit Britain, Pool of London etc. Attended by Clink, HMS Belfast, London Dungeon, Tower, Old Operating Theatre Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Bankside Gallery, surprised others not there (Globe, Tate etc.) We discussed a loyalty card for Southwark, and Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance's scheme (VAQAS) which hopes to improve customer care standards. I mentioned that Museums have the Accreditation scheme so we don't want to do both? and £350 may be peanuts to the large organisations but not to the Old Operating Theatre Museum. Tour d

Governance Hub for Trustees

Just read a couple of useful free booklets on organising Trusts and Boards of Charities and voluntary organisations. To find out more go to

Body Exhibition on the way to Earls Court

I read today in one of the tabloid newspapers (left lying around in the Cafe at lunchtime!)  that Von Hagen's ex-partner is bringing another plastination exhibition to Britain - Earls' Court.   The Guardian suggests that they have made an effort to make sure none of the Chinese donors were executed criminals, although they note that many of the bodies are of young men.   The report noted that, in the past, some of Von Hagen's exhibits were removed after bullet holes were noted in the backs of their heads of two of them.   Please note I'm just reporting what I read in the newspaper and have no way of verifying the accuracy of this story.    But the story is repeated on-line  in the 'Hindu online'    For further details:   Kevin Flude    

Social Inclusion and museums

Euan W MacKie, FSA, Honorary Research Fellow at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, publisheda letter in The Times on 24 March 2006 concerning the Government's use of museums as a tool of social policy was detracting from their core purpose: ‘ 'I support efforts to widen the range of people who visit museums’, he wrote, ‘but why ruin a good museum when, if the aim is a good and popular one, something like an Institute for Social Enlightenment could be built and — not being responsible for the material heritage — filled with informative displays about all manner of contemporary issues? The real danger to museums of these new ideologies of relevance and social inclusiveness is that they provide an intellectual justification for staff to abandon their traditional roles as researchers, custodians of priceless historical evidence and informed educators for the much less demanding ones of children’s entertainers and propagandists for specific topical causes.’' Quoted in:

Archaeological finds crisis in Museums

Museums: unable to cope with archaeological finds? Roy Friendship-Taylor, Chairman of Rescue — The British Archaeological Trust, wrote to The Times to point out that the archaeological work done by the 4,500 professional practitioners working largely for developers and paid by them for their work through the planning process is creating problems for local museums who cannot cope with the amount of material to archive,. Some museums are refusing to accept new archaeological archives. Also there are now some counties with an effective museums service. I Quoted in SALON - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter Salon-IFA 137: 3 April 2006

Museum Visitor numbers

Five million take advantage of free entry at museums 5 million extra visitors to National Museums since entrance charges were scrapped in 2001. There was a 11 per cent drop in visitor figures after 7/7. Also, although London museum visitor figures are largely on an upward trend, national museums outside London visitor numbers are falling.. David Barrie, director of the National Art Collections Fund charity, in a letter to the Times noted the 6 per cent decline at the British Museum and the 14 per cent fall at the National Gallery since 2001, and the fact that overall visitor numbers had only risen by 2 per cent since 2001 at those museums that had always been free. David Barrie said. ‘'It's worth keeping a very close eye on what is going on and trying to interpret it,’ ‘The competition for leisure time is becoming more intense and my suspicion is that were it not for free admission, we would be looking at a significant drop across the board. But we've always s

Video from 350 Degree Panoramas

I have just created a video from the panoramas on the Old Operating Theatre Museum Web site to play on the Computer in the Crypt which will replace the Suture Installation. Quite easy to do once I downloaded some shareware software called easy video capture And then set up the programme to capture the panoramic pictures and ran the autotour on the web site at Saved it as a avi file. I then added a few captions using Video Impressions (very basic video editing programme only to be recommended for joining holiday videos together), saved it as mpeg file and a self playing exe programme. The video is now on CD and we are working to get it to play on DVD. I am working on a newer version with sound with a more competent video editor - I'm trying out a shareware program from AVS Video. I also created a fun pop video of the Operating Theatre using Muvee producer - which is quite hilarious. Let me know if

On Line Learning Environments

The main academic offerings are Blackboard and WebCT - the latter is said to be merging with Blackboard. Leaving Blackboard, part owned by Microsoft seemingly in a monopoly situation! Sounds familiar? However, it is early days and there is an open-source offering called moodle. It has been tested against blackboard by splitting an on-line learning course into 2 groups. Moodle came out just ahead. Moodle is slightly more informal looking, and it has lots of other features as standard such as wikis quizes and you can create your own multiple choice tests and on line learning resources quite easily. I guess you can do some of this in blackboard but if so it is not implemented in the sites I use. So, to sum up -0 not that much to choose between the 2 systems except that moodle is free Blackboard is part owned by the Beast Microsoft. Seems like a no-brainer to me! Could a museum make use of these sites? The answer is yes but there is a learning curve and a school is not goi


I've just heard from Ben Tunstall that has just gone live. This is a great project that Ben set up (and I was lucky enough to make a very small contribution in developing the original idea with a very talented group of others). The idea is to create, via maps, a people's history of an area. The pilot project is is now live. Ben advises 'if you look at it on a mac, don't use Safari, use Firefox instead - you can download at )' Ben reports 'Walton is a small part of Liverpool. We aim to expand to the whole of Liverpool in August when we bring out a second release.'

couple of suggestions re wiki

Here is a good clear article on setting up mediawiki on your own computer and other tips - My thoughts were that I'd like such clear instructions for 'How to install mediawiki on your host.' Also is there a wiki for a PDA? I've been experimenting with a free wiki site called Worth having a look. I've been using wiki for a year or two now and and what I'm really interested in is how to integrate a wiki and a normal web site. I want to allow the addition of community comments to our existing pages without sending them off to a different page. I'm thinking maybe of having a wiki panel at the bottom of each page - not sure how to do it. Wikis seem to me to be the way forward, not only for web sites but for society. I see them as the realisation of the principles of anarchy - society run by self-managing groups. Anarchy as a political philosophy is attractive but always has seemed impossibly n

Google Maps implimented

I managed to impliment a version of google maps on our site - quite easy actually - see previous posts for the links to find the know-how. Early triumph dampened as it did not work in Internet Explorer . N0 real idea why but placing the code in a simple html page with no fancy stuff did the trick. To see the map go to Also created a video of the panoramic tour ( using a great bit of share ware called: Easy video capture - good $20 dollars spend! Also go a flash program on a cover disc called MotionArtist for free which creates very simple flash movies. Tried it out on

Operating Theatre Reopening Soon?!

This has been quite a week and I end it much more upbeat than I began it! The best news was that the building work at the Old Operating Theatre Museum seems to be coming to an end in about 5 weeks time - a little later than planned but much earlier than we feared. Maybe too soon to celebrate it but it seems we have survived! Seems earlier May may be the date! Much to do and I thought we had ages. Now we have to find the money to keep the Crypt open and refurbish the Museum. We need to go to HLF immediately.