News In Brief - Week Ending April 29 2007

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 23 April 2007
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  • Archived article

Welcome to the 24 Hour Museum news in brief page for the week ending April 29 2007.

photo of a man sat on a vintage motorcycle next to a red phone box

27.04.2007 - National Maritime Museum complete Time and Space project at Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has completed work on its new Time and Space project at the Royal Observatory.

Opening to the public on May 25, the £15m development includes the Weller Astronomy Galleries, The Peter Harrison Planetarium and the Lloyd's Register Learning Centre.

The 120-seat state of the art Peter Harrison Planetarium will be the only public planetarium in the UK.

A third of the site that was previously inaccessible to visitors was opened up, renewing the Observatory's 1890s South Building.

The inclined bronze clad cone of the planetarium is a key design feature of the project. It is tilted as 51.5 degrees (the latitude of Greenwich) so it points to the North Star. A reflexive disc at right angle to it is aligned to the celestial equator and the vertical north edge marks the zenith.

27.04.2007 - Shortlist announced for record-breaking BP Portrait Award

Following a record number of entries, four artists have been shortlisted for 2007's BP Portrait Award, one of Britain's most prestigious art prizes, with a £25,000 first prize.

This is the first time the competition has been open to anyone over the age of 18, and 708 (38%) of the 1,870 were from entrants aged over 40 - artists who would have been ineligible last year. In total, entries were up by almost 70% on those in 2006.

Also for the first time this year, a BP Young Artist Award of £5,000 will be given for a work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30 - two of the shortlisted artists are eligible for this award.

The prize winners will be announced on June 20 and the shortlisted artists are Johan Andersson, Paul Emsley, David Lawton and Hynek Martinec.

The award is now in its 28th year and is staged at the National Portrait Gallery.

27.04.2007 - Serpentine Gallery unveils designs for its summer pavilion

London's Serpentine Gallery has unveiled the designs for its summer 2007 pavilion - a giant spiral with 'teeth' and rising floors that join its walls.

The new pavilion was designed by Danish-Icelandic conceptual artist Olafur Eliasson, who created the hugely popular Weather Project for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2003.

He was joined by Norweigan architect Kjetil Thorson to design the 15-metre-high structure, which will weigh 90 tonnes. The gallery has commissioned a different temporary pavilion every summer since 2000.

The pavilion will open to the public in mid-July and host the gallery's Park Nights programme of events.

photograph of a man thatching large pieces of heather onto a roof

26.04.2007 - National Trust revives ancient Scots craft in Norfolk

The National Trust is reviving one of the great old crafts of Scotland this week at Sheringham Park in north Norfolk, where the ancient craftsmanship of heather thatching is taking place on the roof of a building in the park grounds called Ling House.

The Trust has commissioned local contractor Dick Fiddyan of Norfolk Forest Products to repair the roof of the building using the ancient Scottish craft. The heather, which is from the National Trust’s land at Dunwich Heath in Suffolk, is woven onto a chestnut frame on to the roof.

All the materials in the repairs are locally sourced, and the repair work is using traditional methods that are becoming increasingly rare. The restoration of Ling House will continue this week until Monday April 30.

photograph of two men looking at a sheet of honeycombs from a beehive

26.04.2007 - Bill Oddie unveils Museum beehive

Bill Oddie, BBC wildlife presenter, has unveiled the Natural History Museum Wildlife Garden's first natural beehive.

The Wildlife Garden and its beehive is part of an initiative to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybee, which has suffered declining population numbers in the UK and worldwide.

"The British honeybee population has taken a bit of a bashing over the winter and their numbers need a boost," said Bill. "From planting flowers in window boxes to ensuring the preservation of our natural green spaces, we can all do our bit to help."

Honeybee numbers have plummeted by as much as 80% in some areas of the UK. Colony Collapse Disorder, where bee colonies disappear or die for as yet unknown reasons, has caused a devastating reduction in bee numbers in the USA. There are worries that this may also be happening in the UK.

The Wildlife Garden is the Museum's largest living exhibition . Its range of British lowland habitats beautifully demonstrates the potential for wildlife conservation in the urban environment.

26.04.2007 - Portsmouth City Museum acquires important local painting

An important painting of Victorian Portsmouth dating from 1864 has been aquired by Portsmouth City Museum & Records Office.

Showing a typical street scene in Victorian Portsmouth, the untitled picture by H C Bryant shows the town crier, Mr John Burgess, making an announcement to a crowd of citizens including a cook, a wall painter, housewives and children.

The painting, which was purchased from a private owner with assistance from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, will be one of a number featured in a talk on 'Portraits in the Museums & Records Service's collections' at the Square Tower, Broad Street, Old Portsmouth, at 6pm on Thursday May 3.

To book your free place, phone the City Museum & Records Office on 023 9282 7261.

photo of display case in a museum

25.04.2007 - Jewish Museum scoops £4 million for development project

The Jewish Museum in Camden has received the go-ahead for a major development project following approval of a £4 million grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The success of its Stage 2 HLF application will enable the Jewish Museum to triple the space at its Camden Town premises and integrate the collections, displays and activities of its two sites (the other is based in Finchley) at a single, central location.

Building work is scheduled to begin in October 2007 with the new Museum due to open in the spring/summer 2009. In another positive development, the Museum has received detailed planning and listed building consent for the planned expansion.

"We are really delighted to hear that the HLF grant has been approved," said Museum Director Rickie Burman. "The development project will provide much needed additional space and improved facilities that will enhance the Museum’s contribution as a major educational and cultural resource. This support will enable us to create a world class museum for the 21st century."

25.04.07 - Skeleton found in Palace Grounds

A human skeleton has been found in the Grounds of Bishopthorpe Palace in York. The bones were discovered by excavators on the afternoon of Wednesday April 18 as part of a major revamp programme at the official residence of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Speaking to The Press in York, Arun Arora, the Archbishop's spokesman said: "Field archeology specialists were already on site as part of the redevelopment work. Initial estimates suggest the skeleton dates from the medieval period, possibly 14th century."

Mr Arora explained the estimates had been based on the burial rites used and the evidence of a cloth burial shroud, bronze pin and wooden coffin.

Work resumed on the site as soon as the skeleton was removed.

photo of a steam locomotive

24.04.2007 - Didcot Railway Centre to celebrate double anniversary at Railwayman’s Church

Didcot Railway Centre is celebrating a special anniversary service at St Peter’s Church in the town.

The 40 75 Anniversary Gala and service on Sunday May 6 marks 75 years since the opening of the present engine shed by the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1932 and 40 years since the Great Western Society was formed in 1967, the forerunner of the Didcot Railway Centre itself.

Didcot became an important junction with the coming of the GWR and the railway helped to build a new church in the town in 1890, which was known as Railwayman’s Church.

Although the original St Peter’s was deconsecrated in 1976 a new church nearer the centre of the parish was consecrated in 1977 and took up the mantle as the new Railwayman’s Church.

24.04.2007 – Melford Hall reveals the secrets of ‘keeping house’ the National Trust way

The National Trust’s Melford Hall in Suffolk is revealing some of its housekeeping techniques in a talk on May 5.

Liz Cooper, Assistant House Steward at Melford, will be explaining how she protects, cleans and conserves the house’s rich collection, including textiles, porcelain, furniture and paintings.

Liz will demonstrate some of the ways she combats problems like dust, daylight and pests to minimise their damaging effects.

photograph of a set of gold rings

24.04.2007 - Norwich Castle acquires golden relics of Norfolk's past

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery has purchased three fascinating pieces of Norfolk’s history - all of them unearthed by metal detectors and acquired with funding assistance from the Art Fund and the Friends of Norwich Castle.

Consisting of an unusual set of seven gold bracelets, the Foxley Hoard was found during a detecting rally in Foxley in September 2005 and was purchased by the Museum for £35,000. It is a fascinating example of the way elite members of Late Bronze Age society developed far-flung contacts for trade and exchange.

The Eaton II Hoard was purchased for £15,300 and is the largest hoard ever to have been discovered in Norfolk. It comprises a staggering 145 pieces of Late Bronze Age metalwork including a huge range of socketed axes, spearheads, gouges, rapier fragments and a possible sword scabbard guard.

The Shouldham Sword Pyramid is the first object to be acquired under The Art Fund’s new ‘Enriching Regions’ scheme, and is the first sword pyramid to enter the Museum’s collections. It was found using a metal detector at Shouldham in West Norfolk, and was purchased for £2,200 with a £1,700 Art Fund grant.

The Art Fund has given grants totalling over £900,000 to museums and galleries in Norfolk, enabling them to purchase objects worth over £4.2 million.

All three of the latest acquisitions will be on display at the museum from Tuesday April 24.

photo of an ancient pottery urn

23.04.2007 - Rare Roman urns now on display in Cornwall

Two rare Roman urns from the 1st century AD are now on public display at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.

The urns had been uncovered in 2006 during an archaeological assessment and excavation before building work started on the Roseland Parc Retirement Village in Tregony.

One of the urns held the burnt remains of an elderly woman and the other was a handled drinking vessel.

Finds like this are particularly uncommon in Cornwall, which was on the margins of Roman influence during their occupation of Britain.

23.04.2007 – Museum on the look out for Oxford bags

The Museums Resource Centre near Standlake in Oxfordshire has sent out an appeal for pairs of Oxford bags in time for its open day on May 12.

Oxford bags were wide-cut baggy trousers popularised by undergraduates at Oxford in the 1920s, reputedly because of a ban on knickerbockers in class. The baggy trousers, measuring up to 40 inches around the hems, could be slipped on over the knickerbockers.

On the open day, visitors to the Museums Resource Centre can tour the workrooms and storage areas and find out about conservation and preparation of objects in the collections of Oxfordshire museums. There will be a focus on textiles made or used in the county, hence the call for Oxford bags.

“When we started looking at what we are missing in our collections we discovered that we didn’t have a pair of Oxford bags,” said Christiane Jeuckens, Manager of the Centre. “It seemed a real shame given that we’re in Oxfordshire. Perhaps someone will come forward with some.”

Items that will be on show include a dress worn by Alice Liddell (the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), a medieval hair shirt and 19th century silk slippers.

If you have a pair of Oxford bags to donate, call Christiane on 01865 300937, or bring them along to the open day.

23.04.2007 - Natural History Museum scientists help to discover 'Kryptonite'

Kryptonite may be a fictional mineral making regular appearances in the Superman films, but scientists have found a real-world mineral matching its chemical composition.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum and Canada's National Research Council discovered the previously unknown white, powdery mineral in Serbia. During their research they discovered that its composition - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - is exactly the same as used to describe kryptonite in the film Superman Returns.

Approximately 30-40 new minerals are discovered each year and the new find will be revealed at the Natural History Museum in free events on April 25 and May 13.

photo of a neoclassically fronted stately home

23.04.2007 - Vandals target historic Bristol house again

Blaise Castle House Museum near Henbury in Bristol has been attacked by vandals again - the historic house has now been defaced three times in as many weeks.

The latest attack took place on April 20, when the head was smashed off one of the two dog statues that stand at the entrance to the 18th century property.

Previously a stone balustrade and urn were damaged and graffiti was sprayed over the stone dogs.

Calls have been made for improved security at the site, which houses Bristol Museums Service’s social history collection.

23.04.2007 - Brian Lara exhibition to open at Lord's cricket ground

He may have only just retired from the international game, but West Indies cricketing legend Brian Lara is already set to have an exhibition celebrating his career.

The MCC Museum at Lord's cricket ground will feature many artefacts and photographs from the glittering career of one of the game's finest batsmen.

Items on loan from Lara will include the bats he used to score his 277 against Australia in 1993, his 501 innings (the world record score in first-class cricket) and the Test-record 400 he scored against England in 2004.

The exhibition will open on May 17 2007 - the first day of the England v West Indies Test Match at Lords.

shows a view of a narrow city street taken from a high vantage point

23.04.2007 – Major dig in Cowgate, Edinburgh

A major archaeological dig is due to go ahead just off the Cowgate in Edinburgh this summer, on the site of the devastating fire that destroyed many historic buildings.

Previous digs have turned up remains dating back to the 17th century, but the city archaeology team hope they will find older artefacts this time. It is known that the area was heavily populated in the 15th and 16th centuries, when the area was known for its prosperity. By the 1880s, it had declined to a notorious slum.

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