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The Hunterian

Country: United Kingdom
8 Projects, page 1 of 2
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/M00886X/1
    Funder Contribution: 798,834 GBP
    Partners: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

    Until the twentieth century barkcloth was a vital material in the social, cultural and ritual lives of Pacific islanders. Barkcloth, or tapa, was widely used in tropical areas instead of weaving cloth on a loom and was used to create clothing, furnishings, carpeted pathways for royal weddings and funerals, and masks and garments for ritual and religious ceremonies. Sheets of the inner bark of trees and flowering plants were stripped and soaked to soften them, then beaten with wooden mallets to stretch the cloth and make it softer and stronger, before decorating it with painted designs. The production and use of barkcloth were disrupted by increasing western impact on the Pacific islands in the nineteenth century and in some areas missionaries completely suppressed its use. There is a continuous tradition of making barkcloth in some areas of the Pacific, but the skill has been lost in other islands, such as Hawai'i. Today the re-introduction or re-interpretation of barkcloth is an important aspect of cultural identity in these islands. Barkcloth was of great interest to travellers from the west, and Pacific barkcloth objects in western museums are a significant legacy from eighteenth and nineteenth century explorers, scientists and colonists. There are many good collections in museums in the UK and around the world but there are still major gaps in our understanding of it as a material. This project will examine the development of barkcloth production in the Pacific in the nineteenth century. We want to investigate whether materials, techniques and designs originated from particular islands, how they were transmitted around the region and the effect of globalisation on this tradition. This is important both for our understanding of objects in museum collections and for contemporary barkcloth makers in the Pacific. The project will focus on three internationally important collections at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow and The Economic Botany Collection at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, in the UK, and The National Museum of Natural History, part of the USA's Smithsonian Institution. We will research the provenance and history of objects in the collections and analyse their materials and manufacture. We will also carry out fieldwork in the Pacific islands, talking to barkcloth makers, growers and designers and experimenting with making barkcloth using different plants and beating techniques. We know that a variety of plants, including breadfruit, banyan and mamaki, were used to make barkcloth but it is often assumed that objects in western collections are made from the paper mulberry tree though in fact paper mulberry is not indigenous to the Pacific. However it is currently extremely difficult to identify barkcloth species because the fibres were badly damaged during production. The research will explore different identification techniques including the staining of sections, scanning-electron microscopy, protein analysis and DNA analysis. We aim to use some of these methods to identify the plant species in museum objects so that we have a better understanding of the plants used in different islands and how globalisation affected their use. An investigation of preservation and conservation techniques is an integral part of the project. Many barkcloth objects in museum collections are in poor condition; many pieces are very large and have been folded for storage but the cloth becomes brittle and inflexible with age and the folds become fixed. A programme of conservation treatment and improved storage will make the Hunterian and Kew artefacts accessible for current and future research. This will also improve our understanding of the physical properties of barkcloth; we will be looking for links between the objects' physical characteristics and degradation patterns and the plant species. This could result in different conservation treatments for objects depending on their fibre type or condition.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/G005303/1
    Funder Contribution: 24,971 GBP
    Partners: University of Glasgow, The Hunterian, STEMNET

    We live in an extraordinary time of rapid technological development yet there are limited opportunities for public engagement with researchers. This project aims to open the doors of research to significant new audiences through dialogue activities and family activities linking STEM and the arts/humanities. We will develop the following through working with EPSRC researchers and through SEAS:1) Dialogue Activities - Public lectures, talks and debates with active researchers. (inc. Meet the Scientist, Question Times, Lab Visits and use of Science Horizons and DEMOCs (Deliberative Meetings of Citizens materials).2) Family - Including shows with practical demonstrations. - We will work with researchers to shape lively and topical content and develop memorable, inspiring demonstrations incorporating cutting edge research. Family activities will include challenge-based events. There are many tested ideas. Examples may include: Design and build a robot, Design, build and fly a remote controlled model plane carrying a digital camera, Design, build and race a car, a Scrapheap Challenge, Fly a model helicopter, Build remote controlled 4 by 4's, Role playing (Flight school training, Build a water pump for a remote African village), etc.3) School Programming. Content similar to family but with curriculum link and strong focus on skills and the of process of science and engineering. There will also be careers talks and a careers conference utilising Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAS - volunteer practising Science and Engineers) as role models.The main GUSF 2008 festival will run in June 08, with an estimated 15,800 attendances, 8,000 of which will be those specifically engaged in EPSRC related activities. Prof. Miles Padget will act as adviser on EPSRC research strands both from within Glasgow University and across Scotland. Social, ethical and/or cultural issues surrounding science and engineering will be central to the festival. We will use the experience of the TSA to shape a cost effective festival that facilitates EPRSC dialogue and discussion. The TSA was set up ten years ago to create and deliver memorable learning experiences for children and adults. The group has hosted the local SETPOINT since the start of the SETNET initiative (www.setpointscotland.org.uk). The Science and Engineering Ambassador (SEAS) scheme (www.setpointscotlandseas.org.uk) is central to the teams work. Team projects employ an investigative approach with an emphasis on topical applications, and are built on collaboration with industry. The team wish to now build a collaboration with EPSRC researchers. The team use a large number of approaches and have delivered, promoted and managed a wide range of local and UK National STEM learning experiences. These have included local clubs, teacher CPD, team-building for pupils and teachers, community fairs and events in shopping centres, National competitions and schemes, have included Junior Engineers, YEB, support for YEC, CREST, Make it in Scotland, Tomorrow Inventors, Nuffield, Shell, BP, and INTEL projects. All challenge based activities focus on young people's skill development. Fundamental to our approach is active learning. Science and engineering and education should be experienced as a verb and not as a noun. Activities are delivered in collaboration with careers organisations, teachers, and a large number of practising scientists and engineers. A particular emphasis is put on co-operation between education and industry, and learning that is fun. Cost effective delivery models and mechanisms are vital to success.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/R033013/1
    Funder Contribution: 824,120 GBP
    Partners: Thales Optronics Ltd, Department of Commerce (NIST), Chromacity Ltd., Heriot-Watt University, The Hunterian

    Our tangible cultural heritage, both historic and contemporary, is made from a plethora of complex multilayer materials. What we see is often only the surface and form of an object. Hidden below are the materials and evidence of the processes by which the objects were originally created. By using state of the art imaging / spectroscopy systems which can map the composition and reveal the stages of their creation, we gain an understanding about the meaning and significance, both in their original context and our present day. This is at the heart of the disciplines of technical art history, archaeology and material culture studies. It also informs collections care, access policies and conservation of cultural heritage. Infrared imaging and spectroscopy is particularly well suited to looking below the surface, as the scattering which normally occurs with visible light is usually much less. Thus the infrared penetrates further into the object. Depending on the material and its structure the infrared light will be absorbed or reflected. This can either be directly imaged or modulated (Fourier Transform Spectroscopy) to acquire spectroscopic information indicating the chemical composition. Most techniques employed at present within the field of cultural heritage can only make spot measurements; to map large areas would take hours to days to acquire the data and therefore is not usually viable or suitable for in-situ measurements. Other techniques require samples to be taken and are therefore invasive. We aim to explore state of the art IR imaging strategies that will be "fit for the job". This implies wide bandwidth, full field and fast techniques coupled with signal processing/ photonics methods to analyse, visualise and manipulate large multivariate data sets. By exploiting state-of-the-art laser sources developed at Heriot-Watt and providing massively tunable infrared light, we will explore and develop several complementary strategies for 4-dimensional imaging (3 x spatial, 1 x wavelength). Compressive sensing illumination techniques and machine-learning based data processing will allow us to image rapidly and efficiently while also extracting the maximum value from our datasets by automatically classifying surface and sub-surface features. In this way we expect to produce outcomes of shared value for both the ICT and Technical Art History researchers in our team. Contextual information from art history will inform the photonic design and computational anaylsis strategies we deploy, while powerful ICT-led techniques will provide the Technical Art History community with new technical capabilities that reveal previously hidden structure and history. The significance to the public of our cultural heritage has motivated us to integrate outreach activity from the start, in particular a dynamic website using 4D data to allow an interactive tool for exploring the chosen case studies, reflecting the People at the Heart of ICT priority. The project includes industrial partners who will contribute resources and expertise in mid-IR lasers (Chromacity Ltd.) and mid-IR cameras (Thales Optronics Ltd.). Our partners have committed substantial in-kind support in the form of access to their technology and contributions of staff time. Furthermore, their engagement ensures that activities within the project, and the outcomes these generate, can be rapidly evaluated for adjacent commercial opportunities. EPSRC priorities are reflected in the project's structure. Cross-Disciplinarity is embedded as collaborations within the ICT community (Photonics & AI Technologies researchers) and with researchers from the AHRC-funded Cultural Heritage community. Co-Creation is essential: only by combining the distinct technical, contextual and material resources of each research group in our team will the project succeed in delivering new capabilities for IR imaging and analysis and new insights into culturally important objects of shared value.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/V011359/1
    Funder Contribution: 79,891 GBP
    Partners: University of Stirling, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, The Great North Museum: Hancock, NMS, Leeds Museums and Galleries, Butser Ancient Farm, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Scottish Crannog Centre, The Hunterian

    Informed by the original 'Ancient Identities in Modern Britain' (AI) grant (AH/N006151/1), this Follow-on project will support the development of tolerance in British society, in partnership with eight Iron Age and Roman Heritage (IARH) museums and sites located in both rural and urban areas of England, Scotland and Wales. Tolerance is defined as a three-dimensional concept entailing 'acceptance of, respect for and appreciation of difference' (Hjerm 2019). AI research exposed binary uses of Iron Age and Roman Heritages (IARHs) aimed at rejecting difference and forging hostile ideas of others framed on the basis of ethnicity, culture and race. It also showed how formal and informal education is frequently identified by people as the reference point for such exclusive uses of IARHs. It is therefore of particular concern that formal and free-choice learning environments across Britain frequently continue to present the Iron Age and Roman past through dichotomies and caricatures, for example by contrasting militarised and violent, but civilising, mobile and multicultural Romans to spiritual, peaceful, environmentally sustainable and indigenous, but barbaric and rebellious Iron Age people. When we shared these findings from the AI project, a number of heritage and education professionals and members of the public reported that the project results had prompted them to begin rethinking their everyday lives and work practices. Consequently, two clear needs for intervention emerged: (1) increasing public understanding of the repertoire of symbols that are leveraged to power divisive social narratives and proposing alternatives that can provoke attitudinal shifts; and (2) aiding heritage curators and educators to create learning experiences for current and future generations of children that contribute to building a tolerant society. The Follow-on project will address these needs and co-produce tolerant futures through ancient identities by pursuing two newly emerged pathways to impact, targeted at two new audiences. The first pathway consists of creating, displaying and widely disseminating a digital artwork to raise public awareness of the divisive ways in which IARHs have been mobilised in the public sphere over the past ten years, in order to challenge them and recognise opportunities for inclusivity and tolerance. During the lifetime of the project, this pathway will have impact on the new audience of at least 15,000 adults (18+) in Britain including those who do not visit IARH museums and sites as well as those who do, and at least 30,000 more in the two years following the end of the grant. The second pathway is aimed at generating impact on the new audience of 7-11 year old children in England, Scotland and Wales, both in the immediate and longer-term future. It consists of co-producing and widely disseminating digital storytelling resources that can help heritage and history educators to enable non-binary and nuanced early engagements with IARHs which encourage children to open up to and reflect on the themes of otherness and tolerance. The project's legacy will be ensured through the creation a cross-sector network of heritage and education professionals with capacity to support the future development of critical interpretations of IAHRs across England, Scotland and Wales. This will ensure that the two pathways live beyond the end of the Follow-on grant.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: AH/V011359/2
    Funder Contribution: 57,790 GBP
    Partners: Leeds Museums and Galleries, Butser Ancient Farm, University of Edinburgh, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, The Hunterian, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, NMS, The Great North Museum: Hancock, Scottish Crannog Centre

    Informed by the original 'Ancient Identities in Modern Britain' (AI) grant (AH/N006151/1), this Follow-on project will support the development of tolerance in British society, in partnership with eight Iron Age and Roman Heritage (IARH) museums and sites located in both rural and urban areas of England, Scotland and Wales. Tolerance is defined as a three-dimensional concept entailing 'acceptance of, respect for and appreciation of difference' (Hjerm 2019). AI research exposed binary uses of Iron Age and Roman Heritages (IARHs) aimed at rejecting difference and forging hostile ideas of others framed on the basis of ethnicity, culture and race. It also showed how formal and informal education is frequently identified by people as the reference point for such exclusive uses of IARHs. It is therefore of particular concern that formal and free-choice learning environments across Britain frequently continue to present the Iron Age and Roman past through dichotomies and caricatures, for example by contrasting militarised and violent, but civilising, mobile and multicultural Romans to spiritual, peaceful, environmentally sustainable and indigenous, but barbaric and rebellious Iron Age people. When we shared these findings from the AI project, a number of heritage and education professionals and members of the public reported that the project results had prompted them to begin rethinking their everyday lives and work practices. Consequently, two clear needs for intervention emerged: (1) increasing public understanding of the repertoire of symbols that are leveraged to power divisive social narratives and proposing alternatives that can provoke attitudinal shifts; and (2) aiding heritage curators and educators to create learning experiences for current and future generations of children that contribute to building a tolerant society. The Follow-on project will address these needs and co-produce tolerant futures through ancient identities by pursuing two newly emerged pathways to impact, targeted at two new audiences. The first pathway consists of creating, displaying and widely disseminating a digital artwork to raise public awareness of the divisive ways in which IARHs have been mobilised in the public sphere over the past ten years, in order to challenge them and recognise opportunities for inclusivity and tolerance. During the lifetime of the project, this pathway will have impact on the new audience of at least 15,000 adults (18+) in Britain including those who do not visit IARH museums and sites as well as those who do, and at least 30,000 more in the two years following the end of the grant. The second pathway is aimed at generating impact on the new audience of 7-11 year old children in England, Scotland and Wales, both in the immediate and longer-term future. It consists of co-producing and widely disseminating digital storytelling resources that can help heritage and history educators to enable non-binary and nuanced early engagements with IARHs which encourage children to open up to and reflect on the themes of otherness and tolerance. The project's legacy will be ensured through the creation a cross-sector network of heritage and education professionals with capacity to support the future development of critical interpretations of IAHRs across England, Scotland and Wales. This will ensure that the two pathways live beyond the end of the Follow-on grant.