Monday, 31 October 2016

Archaeology Displays Update

Museum staff arranging metal objects ©Pitt Rivers Museum
The new archaeology displays in the Pitt Rivers Museum will be displayed by type of material, rather than by chronology or geography.  The objects for these displays have been selected and now the time has come to layout all the objects to determine their final positions in the cases.  Prof Dan Hicks was involved with the final selection, Technicians Alistair and Adrian advised regarding the placement of objects in the cases and Conservator Miriam recommended ways to support and protect the objects.

The run of 10 archaeological cases is 17 metres in length and so it is important to see the potential layout of the cases next to each other.  The team spent three days working through the the displays which will show archaeological objects made of stone, metal, bone, glass, ceramic, wood and textile.

This case contains examples of spindle whorls © Pitt Rivers Museum

We started with the stone case.  The PRM has over 10,000 archaeological objects; most of these are stone tools so we had a lot to choose from. The carved stone piece in the centre of the photograph is a fragment of limestone (1884.138.12) excavated by Lt. Gen. Pitt-Rivers himself from Caesar’s Camp near Folkstone.

A close up of objects made of wood © Pitt Rivers Museum
Organic material is less likely to survive in the archaeological record but the museum holds some interesting examples to display in the case.  This case contains an intriguing wooden mummy face (1890.25.3) from Ancient Egypt 3rd Intermediate period excavated by Flinders Petrie and a mystery wooden object, possibly a lock, from a bog in Aghabullogue, Ireland (1884.117.1).

A close up of textiles © Pitt Rivers Museum

Archaeological textiles pose a problem for the museum conservation team.  These textiles are fragile and vulnerable to UV light, high lux light levels and to museum pests.  The conservation and technical services departments are investigating methods to control light levels and protect the textiles on display.

A close up of objects made from bone © Pitt Rivers Museum

The bone case contains examples of bone, tooth, shell and horn.  This case contains many small objects.  During the layout we took the opportunity to test the case text.  We printed mock up labels and tried placing the labels along the side edges of the cases.

The Archaeology Stone case in situ © Pitt Rivers Museum

The first display was installed on the Upper Gallery in October 2016.  Keep an eye out for more appearing soon!

Madeleine Ding and Sian Mundell
VERVE Curatorial Assistants

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