News In Brief - Week Ending August 6 2006

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 31 July 2006

Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending August 6 2006.

photo of a conservator working on a broken vase

04.08.2006 - Fitzwilliam Vase To Go Back On Display

On August 8, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, will unveil one of the Chinese vases broken by a visitor in January.

The restored vase will feature in the exhibition Mission Impossible? Choices and Ethics in Conservation, which runs until September 24 2006.

The exhibition was planned long before the accident, but the vase will be a fitting centrepiece. Penny Bendall was asked to repair the largest of the three vases that were broken by a visitor who tripped on the museum stairs.

She said of the project: "This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how ceramic conservation techniques have improved in recent years due to the introduction of modern materials."

She has put the 45kg Ging Dynasty vase back together from 400 pieces. No conservator can work miracles, however - the cracks will be visible.

04.08.2006 - £70,000 Silver Sconces Go On Display In Scotland

A pair of magnificent silver wall sconces made by one of Scotland's finest silver craftsmen have gone on display at the Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.

The ornate late 17th century sconces were made by James Penman to hold candles at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh and are the only ones of their kind to survive. They were purchased at auction for £70,000 with support from the Art Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Cecil and Mary Gibson Bequest.

"It's easy to imagine these magnificent sconces adorning the walls of Hopetoun House, which was envied for its fashionable furnishing and decor," said David Barie, Director of the Art Fund. "Centuries on, the public can marvel at these rare survivals now that they are part of the Museum of Scotland's collections."

The sconces, decorated with cherubs and fruit, are in the Scottish Silver Treasury Gallery.

photo of a man in a flat cap with a little girl in a wooden chair

04.08.2006 - Woodfest At Ulster Folk Park

Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, will be hosting the annual celebration of all things woody at Woodfest, from August 5 to 7 2006.

Set against the museum's log cabins and thatched cottages, Woodfest will explore crafts from furniture making and carving to toy making and even fiddle making. Experts will be on hand on each of the days to share their knowledge, answer questions and give an insight into their work.

04.08.2006 - Ulster Museum Delays Closure Date Until Autumn

Ulster Museum, Belfast, which is to undergo a £12m redevelopment, has announced that its doors will remain open to visitors until October, when it will close for two-and-a-half years for works to be carried out.

The museum had planned to close in August, but has now extended the closing date until the end of September. There will be a grand finale on October 1 when visitors are invited to see the museum in its current guise for the last time.

The Sunday afternoon will have activities for all the family, including the Inversoft Mummy Wrapping Competition, fossil making and animal facepainting

photo of a child holding a miners lamp

03.08.2006 - Big Pit Seeks Memories Of National Coal Board

Did you work for the National Coal Board (NCB)? If so, Big Pit: National Coal Museum would like to hear from you to find out your memories of the industry to be included in an exhibition and publication commemorating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the NCB in 2007.

Ceri Thompson, Curator, said: “We are looking for stories from people who have close connections to the coal industry around the UK."

Some of the questions posed will include: "What was it like on ‘Vesting Day’? Did you experience the differences between ‘hand got’ and mechanised working?"

“Were you a woman working in the industry? Were you an open-cast worker? Did health and safety improve under the Coal Board? Did you take part in strike action? What did you feel about pit closures? In addition we are also interested in the views of miners’ wives and families - how did the industry affect you?”

If you have any responses to these kinds of questions, please contact Big Pit, where Ceri will be happy to hear your stories. Contact can be made via telephone on 01495 790311, email or by post to Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, Torfaen, NP4 9XP.

03.08.2006 - Archaeologists Excavate Ashby De La Zouch Castle Gardens

English Heritage Archaeologists are carrying out excavation work at Ashby de La Zouch Castle over the next fortnight. They hope to to identify the original 16th century Wilderness Gardens and record modifications made over time.

English Heritage Archaeologist, Jim Leary said: "This excavation project will uncover an important part of Ashby Castle's history to the visiting public, revealing what the original 16th century Wilderness Gardens would have looked like and how they were used by castle residents. This in turn will enable visitors to gain a better insight into the history of Ashby de la Zouch."

Visitors will be able to see archaeologists at work as they unearth three trenches to record changes made to the Elizabethan garden since it was laid out in the 16th century. On August 7, representatives of the research team will be on hand to discuss the work.

03.08.2006 - Neolithic Cairn On Isle Of Lewis Could Scupper Wind Farm

A Neolithic cairn discovered on the Isle of Lewis could hold up the development of a wind farm.

The owner of the Eisgein Estate where the cairn was found, Nicholas Oppenheim, hopes to build a 53-turbine wind farm on the site. However, investigations are being carried out to decide whether the cairn was constructed by the same prehistoric people who erected the famous Callanish standing stones 12 miles away.

Objections to the farm have already been lodged by those who believe it will spoil the mountainous landscape known as the Sleeping Beauty, so called due to the resemblance of the mounds to a woman lying down.

a photo of an abbey ruin

02.08.2006 - Medieval Drain Found At Dryburgh Abbey

Archaeologists working at Dryburgh Abbey near Melrose have unearthed what they think is one of Scotland's oldest drains while working on a project to reduce the effects of damp at the medieval Chapter House there.

The 13th century stone capped drain seems to be an early attempt to prevent ground water reaching the building. Historic Scotland, who care for the abbey, are investigating whether this original drain can be still used to solve the drainage problem and will be using a tiny endoscope camera to see why it is not working and uncover any blockages.

Photo © Historic Scotland

computer image of a building project

02.08.2006 - Tank Museum Gets Go Ahead For Re-development

Bovington Tank Museum has received its Stage Two Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) pass, which means that it will now receive £9.6m funding previously earmarked for a redevelopment project there.

"We passed Stage One in January 2005 and are delighted that the HLF still see fit to back our project," said Tank Museum spokesman Nik Wyness. "It means that we now have access to the money that has been pledged and we can now begin the practical phase of development."

The project will cost £16m in total and create new galleries and visitor facilities and improve storage conditions for the tanks.

Picture: detail of the site plans for the Tank Museum development

photo of a middle aged man wearing a blue jump suit with an american flag on the sleeve and with large padded gloves on

01.08.2006 - Apollo Astronaut To Talk About Art And Space At Camden’s Roundhouse

Apollo astronaut Alan Bean will appear at the newly reopened Roundhouse in Camden, London as part of the venue’s forthcoming Space Soon events.

Space Soon will combine an exhibition with live events, screenings and debate from September 9-13 2006, exploring art and human space flight.

Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 12 mission and is now a professional artist. He will talk on September 10 about his experience of being on the moon, the impact of space flight on the human mind and the power of art.

01.08.2006 - Darwin Wildflower Survey Records Fall In Plant Species

A survey recreating a study originally conducted by Charles Darwin 150 years ago has revealed a 15 per cent fall in plant species.

The research, carried out by the Natural History Museum in conjunction with English Heritage and the London Borough of Bromley, used scientists and descendents of Darwin himself to survey the plants in Great Pucklands Meadow next to Darwin’s historic home in Bromley.

Darwin recorded 142 plant species in 1855, while the recent survey, taken between June 2005 and May 2006, recorded only 119. The results will help guide long-term conservation and management of the grassland area.

photo of a ornate gold sword in its scabbard

01.08.2006 - Maritime Museum Secures Historic Naval Sword

National Maritime Museum Cornwall has acquired the Macdonnell sword at auction with the help of funding from The Art Fund, Victoria and Albert Museum and a private donor.

The sword was presented to Master William Macdonnell of the Falmouth ship The Duke of Marlborough after he helped successfully defend it against attack en route to Lisbon in 1814. It will now be reunited with the sword that was given to the ship’s captain John Bull.

The skirmish was a tragic moment in maritime history as it was an example of ‘friendly fire’ – the Duke of Marlborough was in fact engaged with the British Navy frigate HMS Primrose. Both ships failed to properly identify the other and assumed that they were hostile privateers.

01.08.2006 - Duxford To Commemorate 70 Years Of The Spitfire

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford is to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Spitfire’s maiden flight. The special day, on August 13 2006, will feature a selection of classic Spitfires and an opportunity for visitors to meet and talk to former and current crew of these famous aircraft.

There will also be a series of talks throughout the day on the development of the Spitfire and a display of the veteran aircraft taking to the skies.

The first Spitfire entered active RAF service at Duxford in August 1938. Duxford will also be celebrating the Spitfire Anniversary Air Show on September 2 and 3 with the largest gathering of Spitfires in the UK for 2006.

black and white photo of david chipperfield

31.07.2006 - Chipperfield Wins Turner Contemporary Commission

David Chipperfield has been appointed to develop the design for the planned Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate.

Chipperfield will be working with the project partners, which include Kent County Council, on developing the gallery on the eastern side of a former car park on Margate seafront.

The £15 million building is scheduled to be completed in 2009. Chipperfield's recent headline projects include the America's Cup building in Spain and Germany's Museum of Modern Literature.

31.07.2006 - Mary Rose Conservation Takes A Step Back - And Then A Step Forward

A new spray system to complete the preservation of the Mary Rose has been switched on by Dr Margaret Rule, CBE, who led the project to raise the Tudor warship in 1982.

The new spraying arrangement uses a thicker solution of the special water-soluble wax called polyethylene glycol 2000.

Last week it was announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund would not be granting money towards a current scheme for a new, permanent museum for the ship.

Speaking at the Mary Rose Ship Hall at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Dr Margaret Rule commented, “The project has encountered many obstacles in it’s time, and I am confident the trust will get the help it needs to fulfil it’s dream of creating a permanent museum.”

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