Press release issued 17 June 2009
As part of the University’s ongoing centenary celebrations, the University’s museum and archive collections have selected 100 gems to showcase in an online virtual exhibition entitled the Cabinet of Curiosities.
Highlights include the skeleton of Daniel, the first gorilla to be successfully raised in captivity in Great Britain; the silver trowel used by Winston Churchill to lay the foundation stone for Engineering in 1951 (pictured right); the gloves (signed) that Laurence Olivier wore in the original production of The Entertainer; Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s notebooks; and rare plants from the Botanic Garden.
Each exhibit is accompanied by text that tells the story of its acquisition, identity, history or use.
The exhibition gets its name from early incarnations of what we now call museums. Initially created in the sixteenth century by wealthy aristocrats, cabinets of curiosities were rooms crammed full of collected specimens of natural history, artworks, antiquities and other historical artefacts. They were both sources of inspiration and wonder, and important resources for academic research.
Unknown to many, the University has two registered museums (Geology and the Theatre Collection), a Botanic Garden, archives of international significance, and a wealth of artefacts, artwork and other objects, all housed in collections around the University.
The collections participating in the Cabinet of Curiosities include:
Some of the collections are open to the public, and a further selection will be accessible on Doors Open Day on Saturday 12 September 2009.
In the meantime, venture inside the Cabinet of Curiosities.
Please contact Dara O'Hare for further information.
Photograph of Vivien Leigh from the John Vickers Photographic Archive
Image by Theatre Collection
The tools used by Churchill to lay the foundation stone of the Engineering Building in 1951
Image by Jamie Carstairs, Special Collections
A sacred lotus, one of 15 varieties on display in the Botanic Garden
Image by Botanic Garden