Enquiremanchester’s Weblog

The Manchester Museum is the lead museum in the North West Manchester cluster in a national project about art and learning for engage called ‘enquire’

Poems and Museums December 8, 2009

As part of our Magpie Speaking and Listening project for Secondary Schools we’re planning on including an element of poetry and wanted to link this with the museum visit.  A call out to Manchester Museum staff and members of Poets on Fire online forum for poem suggestions met with an over-whelming response.  Whilst we can’t use all these suggestions within our current project, I thought this would make a fantastic archive for potential future projects/visits/work… So here’s the list (in no particular order)… feel free to add to it with your comments!  Please note I haven’t followed up on all these recommendations so please add your own links or corrections by commenting on this post.

Poems:

The Magic Box by Kit Wright

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias (also known as On A Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below) by Horace Smith

In a Museum by Thomas Hardy

Relic by Ted Hughes

The Old Curiosity Shop

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford by James Fenton (features in a book by Suzanne Keane called Fragments of the World)

Fragments of the world also includes:

– Flea Market by John Fuller

– Poetry by Saadi Youssef

– The Treasure and the Dragon, a short extract from Beowulf

The Crystal Cabinet by William Blake

Ode to a Grecian Urn by John Keats

Winter Quarters by Pete Didsbury

The British Museum by Peter Didsbury in Scenes from a Long Sleep

The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894)

The Room of Saints and Virgins by Jean Sprackland in her collection, Hard Water.

The Natural History Museum by Kate Clanchy published in her collection Samarkand.

Museum Piece by Richard Wilbur

The Dolls Museum in Berlin by Eavan Boland

Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rainer Maria Rilke

Subject by Kate Potts (about a medical museum in her t-l Pilot pamphlet)

The Jade Corridor by Richard Marggraf Turley in his Salt collection

Museum of the Forest by Matthew Francis

In the Wedding Museum in The Book of Love

Red Rackham’s Treasure by Lavinia Greenlaw

An Ovaltine Tin… by Paul Farley in Bum on Fire

The Sea Cabinet by Catriona O’Reilly

Natural History by Kate Bingham in Quicksand Beach

Into the Rothko Installation by Peter Redgrove
Musee des Beaux Arts by W H Auden
The British Museum Reading Room by Louis MacNeice

The Theological Museum by Paul Stubb from his 2005 Flambard collection of the same name

The Black Museum in David Harsent’s Selected

Fox in the National Museum of Wales by Robert Minhinnick

The Green-Handled Knife by Martyn Crucefix

Blogs:

Lindowmanchester.wordpress.com

Books:

Past Poetic Archaeology in the Poetry of W.B.Yeats and Seamus Heaney (2004) by Christine Finn

Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995) by Kate Atkinson [fiction]

Selected by Lee Harwood includes a poem about his father and a museum

The American Poetry Wax Museum: Reality Effects, 1940-1990 by Jed Rasula

Recollections by Maureen Almond (produced during a residency at The Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle upon Tyne)

Other links:

A good search engine: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/search.htm…useum&x=39&y=11
A poetry competition: http://www.dlrcoco.ie/library/f02en.htm

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How we see objects March 10, 2009

St Peter’s RC High School students came to the museum and chose objects to draw without looking at the labels, then they drew broken objects, and finally they tried to make sense of a bunch of items from the ethonography collections.  What was artist Paul Needham thinking when he asked them to do this?!  And what did the students get out of it?

The idea behind all this was that Paul thinks there’s more than one way to look at an object, from making a lassoo carved from wood to an ‘impossible’ elastic band formed around a fixed rail.

St Peter’s threw themselves into the challenge of deciphering the museum objects, coming up with a whole host of ideas for their possible uses and histories as well as agreeing with some of the labels given to them by the museum!

 

An Art Historian in the Museum December 3, 2008

Filed under: Alchemy Enquire — enquiremanchester @ 9:10 am
Tags: , , ,

Jen Ashton has written this piece about her experiences of working with us on our educational programmes.  Enjoy!

I began working with the Manchester Museum secondary education team in 2007. The process of working with the team has been enlightening; working in the museum space has been inspirational. Not only has working in the Museum influenced my research as an Art Historian, but has challenged my own preconceptions of what a museum and its collections can, and should, be used for.

My own memories of childhood museum visits are not, admittedly, altogether positive.

On coach – hurried in building – stare at objects – lunch – gift shop – coach – school – discussion of plastic toy/ bag of gem stones/ postcard purchased in gift shop – home.

Why were we hurried past exhibit after exhibit, no lingering, no delayed, slow walk up and down, no pondering over shapes, colour, forms, textures, histories? And why was it that the museum was left in the museum? There seemed to be a disconnection between the two spaces – the classroom, filled high with paper and books was distinctly separate from the museum, full of scrumptious objects, jewels, insects, stuffed animals and mummified bodies. Never the twain shall meet – only on that school trip. The museum visit was, for me, almost a token gesture of ‘other cultural activity’, a tick box filled. Did teachers (do they now?) understand the vastness of the rich material held by the museum, and how to utilised that material to stir imaginations and challenge curious minds? And on the flip side: did museum staff (do they now?) understand the needs of these little people; how to present their collections, verbally and visually; to engage and entertain; to stimulate interest, so they long to ponder, linger……..

As an art historian I like to look. As a child, I am not sure if ‘just looking’ was enough – I wanted discussion, explanation, activity, a chance to explore the space, a sense that the museum belonged to me also, not just those ‘in the know’ – those knowledgeable adults, with their big posh words, and unpronounceable naming games. As a child I remember the museum being closed off to me. A space I didn’t feel comfortable in. I never imagined I would eventual come to work in such a space.

As an ‘outsider’ to the museum collections, I am still not one of those ‘knowledgeable adults’. I have only just learnt to spell palaeontology. But I am in. I have been turned. Art History is concerned with all things visual, whether it be paintings, sculpture, architecture, textiles, furniture, fashion, jewellery, photography, illustration, roads signs, advertising, maps – the list is endless …… we live in a visual context. The museum is a visual space, from the exhibits themselves, to the building which contains them, to the landscape (urban or rural) in which it sits. As an Art Historian I have nothing to add of specimen value, I have only my images, my ways of seeing. When I look at the urchins, the jelly fish, the birds, pressed clematis and ferns, (I have currently been working with the Natural Sciences collections) I am viewing them as art objects. Rightly or wrongly, I initially ignore their scientific context, and immediately place them in an art context (remember the shapes, colour, forms, textures?) As a historian of art, I am thus intrigued by the object’s story into the museum, and how new histories can be created through new interactions and interpretations.

I view my role in the museum as thus: to discuss objects in their visual context; to engage students and visitors in the artistry of the collections – whether natural or man-made – to enable students to make connections between the school space and museum space; to develop connections between the museum and all areas of the curriculum. I have always championed interdisciplinary practices; the museum enables this blurring of boundaries between the arts and sciences – a good thing for all concerned, I feel.

Lastly, I think as an Art Historian a can also introduce new names and visuals to the curators themselves; to engage them in new ways of seeing. It is a learning curve for us all.