Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending April 15 2007.
13.04.2007 – New model-making technology could help visually impaired visitors to heritage sites
Visually impaired people could soon benefit from new model-making technology developed by Hull University.
The University’s Design Enterprise Centre has collaborated with local business, Visually Impaired Media Access Consultants (Vimac), to create a detailed replica of Thornton Abbey in North Lincolnshire. The model is held in the hand and enabled users to experience the abbey through touch, replicating the intricate details of its architecture.
English Heritage, which manages the abbey, is working with Hull University and Vimac to make similar models available at Thornton and other sites around the country.
The prototype model was made by first scanning images of the abbey into a computer using a 3D laser. The data was then manipulated using Computer Aided Design and the information then fed into their rapid prototype machine to produce a tactile model made of plastic.
“This is an impressive technology with real potential to help bring history to life, particularly for visually impaired visitors,” said Kevin Booth, Senior Curator for the North of England at English Heritage. “We have used tactile models elsewhere at our sites, but nothing entailing this degree of precision. The results are really quite remarkable.” Photo: Les Gibbon
13.04.2007 – NTS wants old photos of Culzean to help with restoration work
The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is keen to hear from people who have old photos of its most popular property – Culzean Castle and Country Park.
Staff at Culzean want to make sure that their ongoing repair work is historically faithful, explained Kinlay Laidlaw, Surveryor at the site.
“An ongoing issue for us is not having very many old drawings or photographs to inform how the buildings used to look, particularly from pres-1980s back as far as possible,” he said.
“Many millions of people have visited Culzean since 1947 when the NTS opened the estate, and we know that lots of our visitors will have taken some splendid photographs, so we’d love to hear from them.”
If you have any old photos call Kinlay on 0870 1181945.
13.04.2007 – English Heritage launches St George’s Day greetings cards
How did St Patrick’s Day become a cause for merry celebration while poor old St George’s Day is not even a date most people can name?
English Heritage is launching a greetings card in honour of the dragon slayer in a bid to generate more interest in April 23. In addition, the organisation will be holding special events at its properties all over the country on and around the day. See the English Heritage Website for more information on events and the card.
Who knows - if the organisation succeeds, maybe the 750,000 people who last year voted in favour of making April 23 a public holiday will get their way?
13.04.2007 – Arran Heritage Museum wants your lids
Arran Heritage Museum is appealing for old milk churn lids for a display on the island’s dairy farming history.
If you have any that have been lying about since the 1940s and 50s - that haven’t been turned into water feeders for chickens - please contact John from the Museum on 07711 848548.
13.04.2007 - Reduced entry to Sussex culture for local residents next weekend
From Arundel Castle to Pallant House Gallery, culture in Sussex will be cheaper for locals over the weekend of April 28-29 2007.
A long list of museums, galleries and heritage sites are cutting their entry charges for Sussex residents as part of Your Big Sussex Weekend event, encouraging locals to see the attractions on their doorstep.
See the list and download vouchers from www.bigsussex.co.uk.
13.04.2007 - Archaeologists find Roman wall builders' camp
Archaeologists excavating a site in North Lanarkshire have found what could have been a camp for builders of the Antonine Wall.
The rectangular camp outline was found during a dig following the demolition of a factory at Tollpark, near Castlcary. The camp's outline was first noticed on aerial photographs taken in the late 1940s. It lies about 400 metres south of the Wall, between the Roman forts at Westerwood and Castlecary.
The Antonine Wall, built in the 2nd century AD, stretches 37 miles between West Dunbartonshire and Falkirk.
12.04.2007 - Historic Scotland opens properties for free
Historic Scotland is opening up many of its properties for its annual free entrance weekend.
More than 70 venues, from castles to abbeys and prehistoric sites, will be taking part in the weekend, which takes place on April 21 and 22.
More than 103,000 people took advantage of the free entrance last year and this year if visitors sign up for membership of Historic Scotland during the weekend they will get an extra three months for free.
Visit the Historic Scotland website for full details of the weekend.
12/04/2007 – Student carries out first geophysical survey of England’s third largest stone circle
An archaeology student at the University of Manchester has carried out the first geophysical survey of ancient stone circle Long Meg and her Daughters, near Little Salkend, Cumbria.
At present it is believed that the circle dates from the Neolithic period (4000-2250 BCE), but no excavational work has ever been done on the site, despite its being the third largest stone circle in England (after Stonehenge and Avebury).
The circle consists of 68 stones, 27 of them still standing, with one outlying stone, ‘Long Meg’. Researcher Sarah Potter is now proposing the theory, based on her study, that Long Meg was one of a pair of stones that marked the entrance to the circle.
Ultimately, she wants to precipitate further investigations of the circle: “I want to raise awareness of the vast Cumbrian prehistoric landscape which is unique to England and is comparable to the area around Stonehenge,” she told the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald.
12/04/2007 – Only surviving Griffin engine returns home to Bath museum
The Museum of Bath at Work has taken delivery of the last Griffin engine in existence – a symbol of the city’s engineering past.
The one-and-a-half tonne gas engine was built in 1885 and designed by Bath engineer Samuel Griffin. The engine was used to pump water or drive machinery, but unusually contained a needlessly complicated piece of machinery in order to be different from other engines of the time.
This device proved to be the engine’s downfall, as the patents it was avoiding all lapsed within a matter of years and the Griffin engine became redundant.
The last one was put into storage in Yeovil after having been moved from London six years ago. Now it will go on show at the Museum of Bath at Work in an exhibition this May.
12.04.2007 - Red House in Forest Gate gets restoration grant
English Heritage has awarded a vital grant to one of the last remaining historic buildings in Forest Gate, east London.
The Red House is a Grade II-listed building in the old village of Upton originally dating from 1717, and the £45,000 grant will help pay for essential repairs, especially to its damaged roof.
The building is owned by St Antony’s Catholic Club, which hopes to make the Red House available for use by local schools and community groups and improve disabled access.
11.04.2007 - Gordon Highlanders Museum creates unique armoury display
The Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen has unveiled a new armoury facility, showing guns and weapons dating back 200 years.
The £50,000 facility houses hundreds of firearms and edged weapons from the British Army along with its allies and enemies. It is the first time the major collection has been on public display.
It also stores thousands of medals awarded to the regiment and has a computer workstation giving access to the museum's digital catalogue of its archives and artefacts.
11.04.2007 - Lottery funding to help University of St Andrews create new museum
A grant of £449,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help create MUSA - the Museum of St Andrews - in a restored coach house next to the School of Art History.
The new venue will have four galleries, an education centre and a terrace with panoramic views across St Andrews Bay. It is expected that work will begin on the site in May 2007 and that the museum will open in summer 2008.
Artefacts that will be on permanent public display will include the university's three medieval maces, the Thomas Chalmers window from St Salvator's College Chapel, college silver, historic wax anatomical models and archery medals won by students between 1620 and 1750.
11.04.2007 - Motorbike fan sells TT memorabilia and helps Isle of Man helicopter fund
Dedicated TT motorcycle supporter Alan Reed has helped two worthy causes by selling his items of TT memorabilia.
He has sold the collection to Manx National Heritage to add to their TT centenary exhibition and is donating the funds to the Helicopter Fund to help buy a medical helicopter for the island, which will be available during the famous TT races.
Staying the Course, the centenary exhibition, celebrates the people behind the TT races.
Matthew Richardson, Curator of Social History at Manx National Heritage said: "Mr Reed has been coming to the TT since the fifties, and his original helmet, still covered with stickers, is quite something and makes a valuable contribution to the exhibition."
10.04.2007 - Scientists ask public to become bluebell detectives
Scientists at the Natural History Museum are asking the public to become bluebell detectives to discover if the British wildflower is under threat.
They have launched an online survey called Exploring British Wildlife: Bluebells, which asks the public to identify and record the different bluebell types they find.
There are three types of bluebells found in Britain - native, Spanish and a hybrid. The survey will map where they grow and help scientists find out more about the relationship between the three species while measuring the risk to the native British species.
"Britain's bluebells may be undergoing rapid evolutionary changes," said Mark Spencer, British plant expert at the Museum. "Combined with changes in climate we really don't know what this means for their chances of survival."
"We may even start to see regional extinctions as weather patterns change but we need the public's help if we are to understand what's really happening."
10.04.2007 - New mobile museum to hit the West Midlands
A new mobile museum will be taking to Stafford's Market Square on April 18 2007. Its hands-on exhibition, The King, the Queen and Disco Fever, looks at the differences between Britain in 1977 and 2007, focusing on life in the home, technology, current affairs, sport, toys, games and fashion.
The Museum on the Move project has been developed by Staffordshire County Council's Arts and Museums service and aims to provide a community-based service encouraging lifelong learning and improving access to the county museum collections.
The initiative will be rolled-out to other parts of the West Midlands in 2008.