Showing posts with label Exeter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exeter. Show all posts

Saturday, 13 September 2014

'Cabinets of Wonder': Royal Albert Memorial Museum

'Cabinets of Wonder'

Perhaps you were wondering,
"where did this museum thing begin?"
If so, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, RAMM, in Exeter
has answers for you. 

Around 500 years ago,
'rulers and nobles', wanting to 'possess the wonders of the world',
collected unusual and exotic objects,
creating 'Cabinets of Wonder'.

A couple of centuries on, collectors began to be more systematic,
focussing on types of objects.
Their collections were often donated to public museums,
to contribute to scientific knowledge,
as objects for earnest learning.
Museums were serious business,
promoting proper learning and self improvement.

These collectors brought us...


...and more butterflies
very specifically from Bishopsteignton, Devon,
displayed in drawers.


and flint tools.
I've shown you these before, in a previous post, here,
about things 'lost'
in the vicinity of Exeter.

Some collections appear slightly less thematic,
a bit random
and need more than a glass cabinet or drawer in which to display them.
Such as this Italian harpsichord and Kilimanjaro Giraffe.

Nowadays, collecting is not the preserve of rulers and nobles.
The RAMM invites you to become a collector.
Anyone can start a collection,
don't be put off by Giraffes and harpsichords.

Head to the beach.

Get out and about in the countryside.

Have a dig around in your garden.

 One day your collection
might be the beginnings of a museum.

 And when you have opened that museum,
you can invite visitors to say what they think.

 They'll be interested and amazed.

And tell you what they like about your collection.

And you might find out that you've made a space for people to connect,
and spend time together,
making museums more than serious learning and self improvement.

It's amazing what inspires people to start collecting.
Some things you just have to keep, and add to,
creating your own 'Cabinets of Wonder'.

Antlers found in Scotland,
sheep's ribs found on Dartmoor,
teeny tiny shells scooped up in your hands from a beach in Brittany,
coloured shards of sandblasted glass picked up on the beach in Teignmouth,
a gecko's skull,
bottle tops, all 357 of them,
stones from the beach, that always look better wet,
and a current seasonal occupation, conkers,
all litter the shelves of our house.

Get collecting,
and perhaps take your 'nana' to see what others have collected,
to the RAMM in Exeter.
A brilliant place to spend time,
both with objects and grandparents.

Details on the RAMM website, here.

Monday, 19 May 2014



Bones from seventeen hippos were found in 1965 when the Honiton bypass was being built.
The perks of building roads!
They're fossilised now.
Lost between 70,000-130,000 years ago.

Found in gravel pits near Axminster.
Multipurpose tools for cutting, chopping, digging and butchering.
Lost between 230,000 and 290,000 years ago.

Found dotted around many parts of Devon, lost around 6,000 years ago.
We saw a film of a man making one. Flint shaping flint.
It inspired some making back at home. They're sharp enough to cut up an apple.

Found in Trichay Street and by the Acorn Roundabout, Exeter.
Lost around 800 years ago.

It is now too late to claim this lost-property.
Their owners are long deceased, but in finding these objects, we have the opportunity to learn more about our ancestors and life in Devon, 800 years ago and throughout prehistory.

Hippo bones, hand-axes and arrowheads, all evidence of life in prehistoric Devon.
What was life like in prehistoric Devon?
Here's a mock-up. Whilst your kids spent their time lying on the grass, your sheep warmed themselves by the fire.

Another 'FOUND' poster needed...
Found in a prehistoric dwelling.
Answers to the name of 'De Li'.
Lost around half an hour ago.
No child in the immediate area seems to lay claim to her.

This dwelling may actually be more representative of life in Roman Devon.
But that's what happens in museums, you get the chance to compare life in different times.
You get the chance to dress up as a Roman
and give a talk on 'your pots' from the thirteenth century.

This is particularly true of the 'Making History' gallery in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
The gallery takes you from prehistoric Devon right through to contemporary Devon and Exeter.

We saw some fabulous film footage of seaside holidays in the 1950s & 60s.
I was won over by the double-deckchairs. I want one!

Visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum open Tuesdays to Sundays each week.
We did try and go on a Monday! Do check the website here before you go.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum: The 'Flicks'

We went to the movies in my last post and saw Bill Douglas' extensive collection of film memorabilia, housed in the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in Exeter.

His collecting didn't stop at all things 'moving image'.
He went back, to the time before we all started going to the cinema.

The magic of the moving image began before cinemas.
Like with this zoetrope with horses galloping.

Here's a selection of images, to have a go for yourself.

Here's a Mutoscope. Not a risque one!

It's brilliant, to be able to see how it works.
Turn the handle and the pictures flip by, making it look like things are moving.
Like a giant flip-book.
Apparently they were popular at the British seaside right up until the 1970s.

Now Magic Lanterns.
Stories told through slides projected onto screens. In colour too!
English Church History anyone?

Or the story of Robinson Crusoe?

Or perhaps Red Riding Hood?

A later, mass produced version for the kids.
A 'Mickey Mouse toy Lantern Outfit'.

If you hadn't got a magic lantern, you could always make your own amusement with shadow puppets.
Perhaps with your hands...

...or with this beautiful Shadow Theatre.

You could intrigue your friends and family with magic mirrors!

Or with pictures in 3D?
With the stereoscope.

My grandad had a stereoscope in the 1950/60s.
He had to stop using it in the 70s when he couldn't get the double slides developed anymore.
Sharing family photos took rather a long time, passing it round, waiting for our turn to look through the viewer.
But then we were rewarded with the magic of the 3D photo.

He was always taking photos, instead of asking us to smile, he'd say 'show us your teeth'.
I still keep my mouth closed now when someone takes a photo of me!

A Viewmaster.
'I've got one of those somewhere', my mum.
We probably have all got one of those somewhere.

Here' a much more low-tech way of making 3D pictures.
No scrabbling round for batteries, for the stereoscope light-bulb, when they run out.

And finally I give you 'sound'!
Thomas Edison's Phonograph.
Sound recorded with a needle on a hollow tube of hardened wax.
However did he come up with that idea?
The first recording was made in 1877,
of 'Mary had a Little Lamb'.

I do however save one last encore for the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum Activity Box.
It was magic, for both adults and kids.
Viewmaster, 3D pictures, magic mirrors, zoetrope, flick books, optical illusions, thaumatrope (spinning discs), shadow shows and more.
Kept us amused for ages.
Big thanks to Big Douglas Cinema Museum for this.
An authentic hands-on experience, and ironically not a screen in sight.

So following this, pictures began to move. You can read all about the moving image in my previous post,

Find out more on the the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum website.
Not only will you find information about visiting,
but it also has a brilliant 'Kids Zone', which I think should be called an 'Kids, Adults & Everyone Zone'.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bill Douglas Cinema Museum: Lets go to the movies!

It took living near Exeter, Devon for over fourteen years, before my mum heard about the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in a chance conversation.
So at the first opportunity we went. We hadn't a clue what to expect.
This was my first trip to a museum on a university campus.
Actually this is not strictly true as the Grant Museum, UCL may count.

Bill Douglas was a keen cinema goer, a film maker and a collector of all things cinema and moving image. Of the 75,000 objects, over 1,000 are on display.

He began his obsession with the cinema as a child, preferring the cinema, 'the other world', to being at home or at school, his 'hated realities'.
He began making films in the 1960s and that's when his collecting really took off.

He didn't appear to have been collecting any one thing, like badges, posters, tickets, programmes, magazines or such like.
He collected EVERYTHING!!!

So to begin the tour

I use the M-word, despite being brought up going to the 'pictures', as this is all about the moving image.

Where do you want to sit?

 A worthy way to advertise a film studio. 'Educational'.

There are quite a few films on at the moment.

We got totally engrossed in the story of The Black Sheep.
No strap-lines to advertise this film, it's worthy of lengthy narration.

I love the way these colour posters advertise black & white films.

Or perhaps go and see a classic. He's back! Gritting his teeth, holding a gun and snogging!
Has anything changed?

Once you start collecting film memorabilia, the possibilities are endless.

Books and games

...minatures and baking cases

...plastic toys

...telephones and alarm clocks

...playing cards

...albums and mugs and writing sets

...lollipop holders and board games


...police boxes

...and bottle stoppers.
Greta Garbo looks a lot more used than Rita Hayworth.

Then their are all the collectables to remember your favourite film stars by.

There are many magazines to chose from.
"Ooh I used to get that every week!", my mum.

Some people kept scrap-books (remember them) about their favourite film stars.

And if that wasn't enough, you get a map 'with home addresses',
with a red line to take you from the home of one star to the other.

The End.

Coming soon...
For your next showing, we go to the 'Flicks'.
To see what was around before the moving image, when pictures 'flickered'.

There is truly so much to see at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. All this and more.
His passion for the cinema is infectious, you cannot help but be carried along, on a wave of enthusiasm, throughout the whole museum.
It is open seven days a week with details about the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum here.

You can tell I'm not a film buff. I found the Mickey Mouse baking cases too exciting! 
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