I know I promised a review of the Sex Museum in Amsterdam but after visiting there isn’t really much to say. It’s a museum…about sex. You get the picture. There were some interesting parts – women’s lingerie dating back to the 19th century until today. Only visit if you have time to kill.
I should have premised these entries by stating that I have been to Amsterdam before. I spent ten days here early last year and saw all the big museums then such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum etc. This visit was more a refresher for the Maritime Museum exhibit. Since I have had some time left over I’ve been lucky enough to see the other museums Amsterdam has to offer. The ones I didn’t get round to seeing last time. Continue reading Verzetsmuseum – Resistance and the War
Since the wait for lunch is apparently long at this cafe I thought I might as well write my first museum reviews. This morning/afternoon I visited two absolutely marvellous museums here in Amsterdam.
The first was the bags and purses museum: http://tassenmuseum.nl/en/. As you can probably guess, I am completely enthralled by textiles. Handbags most certainly fall into this category. This museum reinforced the importance of a humble accessory showing how the bag has developed over the last few centuries. From bags with specific purposes to ones that were fashion statements this museum had them all. One statement that particularly caught my attention was that bags contain important elements of our life – what we carry can define us. What better way to see what value was placed on certain items throughout history than by unzipping the bag and looking within. Continue reading Bags and Boats
If I wasn’t completely museumed-out in Mexico earlier this year then here is my opportunity to go overboard! Tomorrow I leave for Amsterdam and the UK to present at a Conference in Liverpool. My topic is how museums represent the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Along the way I am going to see as many museums as humanly possible. London is home to the most museums and art galleries in the world. I’ve picked the ones I’m super desperate to see and I’ll be writing reviews/general commentary in the form of blog posts as I go along. There are a few obvious choices left out of the list. There are a few I’ve been to more than once and that I’ve sadly sacrificed for the greater good of other museums I am yet to venture in to.
What do you get when you combine an architectural marvel with amazing objects? The Anthropology Museum in Mexico City would have to be my answer. To describe how amazing this museum is would be impossible. Firstly, it sits in this huge park. Surrounded by greenery (even in winter) it is in an absolutely stunning location. The real beauty, however, can be found within.
When you first walk through the doors of the museum it looks pretty standard. Huge area with tiny desks and heaps of benches to rest on when it all gets too much. So you get your ticket and then it’s through door number two. You enter into this amazing open-air space with an Aztec column right in the middle. Water cascades down the column to the ground – literally the most beautiful entrance to a museum I have ever seen.
Surrounding the water display are three huge buildings. To see everything in this museum would take probably a week. There is just so much to see I don’t know how you could leave feeling satisfied after only a day. I started in the most logical place I could find, the introduction to Mexican cultures room.
After this I couldn’t help myself and rushed to the Aztec Hall right at the back. Right in the middle of the hall is the Aztec sacrificial stone. Gory but amazing. The insight this object gives to the past is astounding – google it! If the stone doesn’t leave you awestruck the rest of the Aztec Hall will. Huge models displaying how Mexico City once looked as well as statues and jewellery can all be found inside. I really enjoyed seeing statues that depicted human ailments. The Aztec knowledge of the human body and illness was more advanced than you might think.
After the hall I headed over to the culture of Mexico building. There are so many rooms filled with textiles from all cultural areas of Mexico and how they have transformed over time.
After trying to see the museum as best I could solo I returned with our group a few days later. Our guide really took the objects and gave them life. A random statue of a lion became a symbol that once stood on the Temple of the Sun and was worshipped daily. it’s amazing how little bits and pieces can help you reconstruct things in your mind. From the tiniest of statues to the largest of sacrificial stones!
I really recommend this museum to anyone and everyone. It is one of the best in the world for its collection and display. It was wonderful to see a museum proud of its heritage and past, displaying it to the public and educating thousands of visitors per year.
This morning was an amazing opportunity. Huge thank you to Virginia Gordon at the Police Museum for allowing me to come along to this conservation workshop at the Museum of Brisbane.
The workshop was conducted by a renowned textile conservator, Tess Evans. An hour and a half completely flew by as we learnt not only some tips and tricks for conservation but also had some hands on experience.
The workshop began with a short presentation by Ms Evans who explained the main reasons behind the disintegration of material culture. There is just so much out there to be careful of when trying to maintain and conserve a textile collection. For example, light damage is accumulative. So you put something out on display, think you’ll give it a moment out of the spotlight then put it back on. The damage will continue from where it left off. I am the kind of person that finds all this incredibly interesting!
We saw heaps of amazing photos – so many beautiful embroideries and textiles on display from around the world. It really made me stop and realise clothing today. Easy to just wash and wear but imagine if your dress made it into a museum and was put on display 100 years from now. Handling is key and to know how to handle you need to know what you’ve got.
We also learned some interesting ways to mount textiles and fabrics for display but my personal favourite was how to create a mannequin. Simply using some proper wire and covering it with “textile-friendly” material voila you have a mannequin for display. It’s also Pretty cost effective!
Then, for the grand finale, we got to take a sneak peak at a costume from Elizabeth Taylor. It was so beautiful! I am in absolute awe of what Ms Evans has accomplished with conservation.
It’s a field I’d love to get into within the museum sector. Having the power to conserve something from the past for the future to enjoy is just too good to be true. It was an exciting workshop with even more exciting outcomes!
Every so often I’d like to write about a museum that I’ve either been to or really want to visit. Believe me my museum bucket list is long. I love a good museum so why not share this with whoever wants to have a read! This week I am spotlighting the Hunterian Museum in London. In June this year I will be lucky enough to visit and see what lurks within.
Two of the most prolific specimen collectors during the eighteenth century were Scottish brothers, William and John Hunter. Separately, the Hunter brothers acquired anatomical collections never brought together in any age or country. John Hunter’s collection, in particular, contained preserved diseased specimens that allowed the Hunters’ private collections to be the first to have significant scientific value. On their deaths (William, 1783 and John, 1793), the collections were donated to the Royal College of Surgeons in England to be viewed by medical professionals.
The main reason why I’m so excited to visit is that this museum will be at the centre of my conference paper in Sydney for the History of Medicine Conference. Medical museums have always fascinated me. Not just because of whats inside, but because of the countless issues that surround them. Take the Hunterian for example and its “Irish Giant” – a very controversial topic.
Charles Byrne, the “Giant”, wished to be buried at sea. Alas his skeleton stands in the museum for scientific research purposes. The whole issue of what happens to your body after death and how important what happens is can be bought to life through this one skeleton.
Not only this but what exactly do these types of museums mean to me? The 19th century saw a massive conflict between medicine for the public and medicine to be kept private. Public anatomy and pathology museums that were absolute success stories were closed down in favour of the more “elite” museums. Dr Kahn’s Anatomical Museum was one ‘victim’ of the professionalisation of the anatomy and pathology schools.
Instead, museums such as the Hunterian became the dominant and becoming a qualified doctor no longer meant paying 2 pounds to sit in on an autopsy. You had to study. Anyway I am very excited to see this museum in person and check out all the wonderful things on display! I imagine it is going to be a real old school museum – I will be disappointed if it isn’t.
This will be by far the cheesiest title I will ever use for a blog post. I have been volunteering at the Queensland Police Museum for a year now so I thought I’d write a bit about my time there.
I should premise this by saying as a child I was practically raised on CSI and Law and Order. My father is an avid member of the British Police Memorabilia Club. It seems only logical that my fascination with the police and all things police-related led me to this wonderful museum.
I say wonderful for a few different reasons. The main being that I am constantly reminded when I go to this museum of why I want to get into this industry. Everyone who works there is not only passionate but so welcoming and devoted. I see a group of people who are in a museum for all the right reasons and this has encouraged me more than they probably realise.
I also say wonderful because the work I have been doing over the past year has suited my organising personality all too well. Initially I helped publish a few of the historical police uniforms to the Australian Dress Register Website. The Powerhouse Museum runs this amazing project that basically publishes any piece of clothing before 1970 that may be able to tell a story. All you have to do is research it, measure it, describe it, photograph it and contextually analyze it. A whole lot of work goes into each item. It’s really amazing being able to take a jacket etc off its hanger and tell its story. A green dress, for example, can all of a sudden become a symbol of women’s acceptance into the police force once you know what you’re looking at. Not only that but I have seen some incredible uniforms! One of the first uniforms for policewomen in 1965 and a Commissioner’s uniform from the early 20th century have definitely been the highlights so far.
Since we have put a few up on the website to be considered and published I’ve been helping out organising some of the uniforms and labelling them. Once again my organising-obsessed personality means this is actually fun for me.
So in only year I’ve been able to pick up on so many things in a museum. Significance report writing, storage and conservation, managing collections – there is too much to list! I have been very lucky with this opportunity.
Check out the two uniforms we have published here using these links: