Showing posts from December, 2006

Britain pays war debt

This week Britain finally paid back our debt to the US from world war 2. War Debt Article

Black death - human flea's role?

Very good article on the Black Death reported on Britarch - it has a useful summary of the various viewpoints very well. It concludes that there were indeed some differences from the 19th Century bubonic plague - mainly in how virulent it was and comes to the conclusion that this is because the plague was spread by the human flea.   The Shifting Explanations for the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague in Human History By John Kelly    

Museums Without Barriers Grant application rejected

I found out today our application for the Museums without Barriers grant from MLA, London was rejected. The pot had very little money in it and they could afford few grants but as I had gone on the training course, met the grant coordinator I was pretty sure we would be successful, but I think I left the project too open-ended and lost out to more tightly constrained projects. I wanted a visit by the consultants to help us decide how best to concentrate our efforts to improve access. The application was that simple - obviously too simple that they did not think we had put any effort in. Very annoyed.

London Array Windfarm proposed

A huge windfarm planned for the Thames Estuary called the London array will provide 1% of the UK energy requirement. For more details:

How London is Divided Up

The LDA - London Development Agency divides London up as follows: I have no idea who made these decisions but clearly some are not so obvious. For example, Southwark is in the Central Region but the City is in the Eastern Region given that all the bridges across the Thames in Southwark join up with the City this seems crazy! A report which discusses the issue of dividing up London can be seen here. Central sub-region Camden Islington Kensington & Chelsea Lambeth Southwark Wandsworth Westminster North sub-region Barnet Enfield Haringey Waltham Forest East sub-region Barking & Dagenham Bexley Corporation of London Greenwich Hackney Havering Lewisham Newham Redbridge Tower Hamlets South sub-region Bromley Croydon Kingston Merton Richmond Sutton West sub-region Brent Ealing Harrow Hammersmith and Fulham Hillingdon Hounslow

Sign here to save the Theatre Museum

I joined the save the theatre museum campaign, and send email to everyone in my mailing list. Guardians of the Theatre Museum

30m New Visitors since Free Museums

30m more visitors have attended museums in the last 5 years, 6m this year. This has been attributed by Tessa Jowell to the introduction of free museum entry 5 years ago but it has also benefitted charging museums too so not entirely sure why the numbers have gone up. Guardian Article

End of year at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

We had our Christmas party at the Bermondsey Kitchen on Bermondsey Street last night. The restaurant was a long way down the street towards the site of the old Abbey -this street has come up so much in the last few years - it is now full of restaurants and pubs. Dinner was good and how amazing that we have come through such a hard year in such good heart. We survived 6 months enforced closure, we built an alternative display and moved back into the old museum with just a couple of days closed. Our visit numbers are back up and the staff have done just amazing work. Its inspirational. We move into yet another year of uncertainty, as the Landlord is selling the building under us and we hope to buy it, but fear someone else will buy it before we can raise the money.

Cognitive Dissonance and the Post Grad Certificate in Higher Education

One of the students,at the Post Grad Certificate in Higher Education in Art and Design, final meeting at Catton Street, complained that she was suffering from 'Cognitive dissonance' which she defined as the acquisition of extra knowledge creating an inability to progress - I guess a lack of confidence in one's abilities now that you know you knew nothing before!

East End Dwellings Company

Went for an interesting short walk behind the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. From the Museum or from Bethnal Green Tube, walk down Cambridge Heath Street to the Sir John Soane's St John's Church built in 1826. Turn left into Roman Road and walk along until the Buddhist centre and turn left up Globe Road. The road has got an interesting series of public housing built by the East End Industrial Dwellings Company between 1900 and 1906. The company were one of the philanthropic societies called the 5 percentage companies - which tried to build good housing for the poor and make a 5% return to encourage commercial landlords to improve their standards. There is nice no smoking pub of the period, with great tiled exterior called the Camel - does pie and mash for food.

Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood -reopens

The V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green reopened and we visited on its second weekend open. I think it is disappointing. To me the overriding problem of the old museum was that it was not much fun - it was a traditional object-orientated display-case Museum that was really designed for adults revisiting their childhood toys. It was not really designed for children - the museum of childhood not the museum for children Not much has really changed. On the plus side are new front-of-house facilities, education rooms, toilets, a lovely new pink/lilac paintjob for the old corrugated iron shed, new cases, more interactives and hands on activities (a surprising number of which are 'out of order)' And yes there is definitely more fun here for the kids but the displays are still traditional case bound object displays and it is still a Museum of Childhood and not really a children's Museum. The objects are still in rectangular cases of particular dullness, an

Theatre Museum may relocate to Blackpool

The threatened Theatre Museum is having discussions with Blackpool about moving the collection after it closes in Covent Garden. This seems a disaster to me as much of the Collection is London based and a West End location seems the most appropriate. I am surprised that there has not been a storm of protest about the Theatre Museum - I think this is because the HLF refused two grant applications on account, it is said, of the difficult site the Theatre Museum occupies - being essential subterranean. And so we acquiesce. However, the site is difficult not impossible and it is in the right place - just over the road from the West End's first theatre, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, close by the Royal Opera House and near most of the great London Theatres. This suggests to me that the HLF has too much power - they reject a grant, the Museum closes, and we all accept it! To help protect the Theatre Museum Guardians of the Theatre Museum

Guys World Medical Heritage Site

Is this a red letter day for the Old Operating Theatre Museum? I have just heard that Kings are pursuing the idea of the Medical Heritage site that I have been discussing with James Buxton and which was discussed with the Guys and St Thomas Charity. A meeting of interested party is planned. Could be this is what the Museum needs for its development?

London Museums of Health and Medicine AGM

I attended the AGM of the London Museums of Health and Medicine at the Dana Centre yesterday afternoon. A very good turn out and its good to see that the network is beginning to become more proactive after a few years of resting on its laurels. The main work of the museum network has been the production of a joint leaflet and general networking, which it has done really well. However, the group is now looking at other joint activities such as a joint events programme, and creating some resources on the web site. Robert Bud and his team reported on the Science Museum's projects in particular a new project called 'Sickness and Health' to create a new web resource for the 'Medicine through time' curriculum and for Medical Students. He reported there were 60,000 school children doing 'Medicine through time'. The core of the project is digitising 4,000 new images from the Wellcome Collection, there would be a user interaction (wiki type) area of the site.

Museums need full time Professional Exhibition professionals?

I've just read Maurice Davies's, article 'Time to get professional' in Museums Journal Feb 2005 in which he suggests that many Museums exhibitions are dull. He suggests that 'perhaps we need a new breed of museum professional who is dedicated to leading the exhibition and display process'. On the face of it a strange suggestion - what are Exhibition Designers then? What are 'Content developers'? What, for that matter, are Museum Curators? So his suggestions needs some amplification or unpicking. He believes that often the role of 'exhibition editor' is often missing or fulfilled by people with too little experience, or knowledge, and that curators are often too busy with other things to fulfill this role properly. I think he is saying that modern good practice demands a multidisciplinary team, and extensive public consultation, and that this process needs to be led by people who understand both the curatorial information content, the desig

Sorrows of the Moon

A friend recommended Sorrows of the Moon by Icqbal Ahmed. to quote the Camden New Journal 'Iqbal Ahmed did not grow up in London.... But his first book – Sorrows of the Moon – has an instinctive feel for the guts of London with his observations of Brick Lane tailors and cafĂ© life in West Hampstead.' Camden New Journal

Early sketch of Stonehenge found

A 15th Century sketch of Stonehenge has been discovered in an archive in Douai, France. Early sketch of Stonehenge found | | Guardian Unlimited Arts keyword = archaeology

Hitler's reasons for War

Very interesting article in History Today by Adam Tooze which attempts to understand why Hitler went to war in 1939 and why he was prepared to go to war with the US. It has always puzzled me why he was happy to honour his treaty with Japan and take on the might of the US. The answer seems to be two fold - firstly he believed that the international jewish conspiracy was lead by the States so that to defeat the jews it was inevitable he had to take on the US - the japanese entry in the war at least gave him an ally in this epic struggle. He started the war in 1939 because he saw that the democracies were beginning to overtake Germany in war production, and that 1941/2 would be too late for Germany to take them on successfully, he gambled by going early.

Clerkenwell Tales Walk

Yesterday I gave a walk around Clerkenwell based on the Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd. It did not entirely work I think partly because the start and end points were not conducive to the subject - as we were within Clerkenwell and at least half of the book takes place in the City. The book is a bit of a potboiler with really the only point of interest being the local colour that Ackroyd has added. I can't help thinking he was dashing off a quick book to pay for his time spent on the more academic studies. Firstly, the title was obviously chosen to resonate with the Canterbury Tales, and the people in the book are supposedly drawn from Chaucer's masterpiece. Except they are not - they may have the same job titles, friar, pardoner, nun's priest, manciple etc. but their characters are absolutely nothing to do with Chaucer's. Just one example - William Exmewe the mastermind behind the murders is not a jolly corrupt friar, he is a hard bitten Machiavelli, but vi

Stonehenge was a hospital

New work in the Prescelli Mountains has lead to new theories on the role of Stonehenge. This is where the Bluestones came from - a place where they are lots of so-called holy wells. It is suggested that the wells and the stones had health giving properties and this is the reason the bluestone circles were transported to Stonehenge. The Amesbury Archer has been shown to been a cripple and the suggestion is that Stonehenge was a famous centre of health. And so to Stonehenge the Druid's Circle, the Astronomic Computer, the Shaman's Den is now added Stonehenge as Spa. Simon Jenkins of the Guardian reports Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | Not a fortress, or a temple, or a calendar. Stonehenge was a hospital Article in the Telegraph keyword = archaeology

Medieval Sourcebook: The Questioning of John Rykener, A Male Cross-Dressing Prostitute, 1395

This is a rare court proceeding discussing sodomy and cross dressing from 1395 - suggest a very active bisexual sex life on the part of John Rykener who seemed to think priests were his best lovers. Medieval Sourcebook: The Questioning of John Rykener, A Male Cross-Dressing Prostitute, 1395