Winifred Lamb: museum curator and archaeologist

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I will be exploring the relationship between Winifred Lamb’s work as an archaeologist in the Aegean, and her role as Honorary Keeper of Greek Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In the museum there are recognisable strands to her curatorial work: the display (and publication) of the Greek figure-decorated pottery, supplemented by the Ricketts and Shannon loan (and later Shannon bequest); the formation of a prehistoric gallery; the development of a collection of Greek, Etruscan and Roman bronzes; and finally material from Anatolia. The Greek pottery interest was influenced by her work with (Sir) John Beazley in Room 40 during the final stages of World War 1.

In a second paper I will consider the process of writing Lamb’s biography: the archive sources including her correspondence, diaries, and photographs; her acquisitions for and gifts to the Fitzwilliam; and her publications. I will then turn to the writing of a life from an essay in Breaking Ground to the memoir in ODNB. What should be included or excluded? Where do the emphases lie?

The long road to museum transformation

I was delighted to attend the Opening Reception last night at the National Museums of Scotland to celebrate the completion of the 15 year transformation of the main National Museum building on Chambers Street in Edinburgh.  As the final three galleries to be represented included the East Asia gallery, we were treated to a performance of Japanese drumming, which echoed amazingly through the main atrium of the Museum.NMS drums

Speeches were kicked off by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Fiona Hyslop, who re-emphasised the point the culture is at the heart of flourishing societies, and were a vital part of public life (and policy).  She has consistently stuck to this script, and as a longstanding political overseer of the culture and heritage portfolio in Scotland, it remains heartening to hear her continue to win the argument for culture within Government realms.  Were that always the case south of the border, and oh to have a culture minister in England that lasted more than a couple of years!

We were then given short speeches by the National Museums Scotland Chair, Bruce Minto; the Chair of the Scottish Committee of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Dame Seona Reid (formerly known as the HLF, but renamed as part of their new strategic plan last week); and finally by Dr Gordon Rintoul, who as Director of NMS has seen the project through from the start.  We then headed off to view the new galleries – covering ancient Egypt, East Asia and ceramic collections – and were left to ponder whether 15 years on, and with the changing fashions and expectations for museum display and experiences, whether it is time to start the whole process again, akin to painting the Forth Bridge.

 

 

RSA Heritage Network and Suffolk

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RSA Launch © University of Suffolk

Heritage Futures hosted the RSA Heritage Network event for Suffolk this evening. Around 50 guests from across the region listened to presentations on the heritage index (David Gill), museums in Suffolk (Jenna Ingamells) and the Hold (Amy Rushton). There was an extended time of discussion to consider the three RSA themes relating to:

  • the challenges facing heritage in our region / country
  • the solutions
  • the develop of networks to support heritage

Further details about the event can be found in the press release.

Austerity, Heritage, and Tourism

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David Gill will be giving a lecture on ‘Austerity, heritage and tourism: UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece’ as part of the Edmund Lecture Series for 2017/18. The lecture will be in Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at 6.00 pm.

Abstract

Tourism is a significant part of the Greek economy and an important counterbalance to austerity. There are 18 UNESCO cultural and two mixed World Heritage Sites (WHS) in Greece. They range from the Bronze Age site of Mycenae, through the Classical site of Olympia, to the Medieval City of Rhodes. These locations stand alongside a rich range of archaeological and heritage sites as well as museums that serve as a repository for the finds. This lecture will review the value of these UNESCO recognised sites as focal points for tourist activity. This overview will be presented against the wider visitor figures for other archaeological sites and museums in the care of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. This information will be mapped onto the wider visitor data for Greece, and contributes to the discussion over the economic impact of World Heritage Sites for local economies as well as the wider economy of Greece. The lecture will explore the likely impact of Brexit on the Greek tourist economy, and opens a wider discussion of why the UK Government should value our own UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

[Details]

Remember to have fun at Framlingham Castle

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Framlingham Castle, September 2017 © David Gill

The once peaceful surroundings of Framlingham Castle are a little bit of Suffolk’s heritage. English Heritage has installed a slide (‘Time Tunnel’) inside the walls as part of its visitor improvements.

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Framlingham Castle, September 2017 © David Gill
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Framlingham Castle, September 2017 © David Gill
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Framlingham Castle, September 2017 © David Gill

In case you want to remember the castle as it was in previous years, here is a reminder:

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Framlingham Castle, 2015 © David Gill

Summer Solstice at Sutton Hoo

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Sutton Hoo © David Gill

There are preparations underway at Sutton Hoo for the ‘Summer Solstice’ weekend. One of the displays includes (reconstructed) material from Switzerland that was contemporary with the Sutton Hoo burial.

Imperial Measurements to Return

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Standard Measurements at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich © David Gill

It has been announced today that, as part of the preparation for Brexit, the UK will be jettisoning metric measurements and returning to the ‘Imperial’ measurements of inches, feet and yards. This adventurous initiative has been put in place to ensure that UK citizens have a unique British perspective on distance and location.

This move is likely to prove a challenge to those under 60 who have been brought up on millimetres, metres and kilometres. However older citizens may feel reassurance from this reintroduction. It also needs to be remembered that the UK continues to measure longer distances in miles and speeds in miles per hour. It is hoped that the move will standardise the units of measurement.

It is unclear if petrol stations will be required to sell fuel in gallons rather than litres, or that car dealerships will need to show fuel consumption in miles per gallon (as opposed to kilometres per litre).

One of the additional benefits of this change is the likely improvement in mental numeracy as calculators on phones and tablets will not readily convert to and from a non-metric system.

A short ceremony to anticipate the forthcoming legislation will be conducted by the Greenwich meridian line with the slogan, “Now is the time to put feet back”.

The necessary process will not be contained within the Great Repeal Bill, though it is understood that a series of possible names are under active consideration, among them the Large Yard Bill.