Exploring the weird and enchanting in UK museum collections
09 Feb 2017
A newly published book written by researcher Rebecca Reynolds highlights some of the most engaging objects currently held in British museums.In Curiosities from the Cabinet, Objects and Voices from Britain’s Museums, Reynolds draws on research she did while based at the V&A Museum as part of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD). The CETLD was a partnership initiative between the University of Brighton, the V&A, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Royal College of Art (RCA). The partnership was developed to extend the educational and research opportunities of all those involved, focusing specifically on object scholarship and object-based learning explored through and across partners'archives and collections.
Curiosities from the Cabinet presents objects found in UK museums from Weston-super-Mare to the Shetlands, plus interviews with people who know and love them – curators, conservators, artists, visitors, users. We hear about a euthanasia machine used by four people (introduced by the doctor who developed it); a colony of ants; the world’s oldest usable map; some 1920s toilet paper and many other exhibits.
Among the interviewees for the book are Brighton’s Louise Purbrick and Chris Rose, as well as Matt Smith, who recently completed a ceramics PhD at Brighton. Reynolds said: “Being part of the CETLD gave me a chance to explore questions about museums within the weird, enormous, enchanting and intimidating space which is the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.”