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3D models of Horniman objects

For the past few months, we've been 3D scanning objects from our collections and elements of our building's architecture. Today we are introducing these 3D models on Sketchfab, a website for displaying and sharing 3D content online.

The 3D scanned objects come from across our internationally important collections of anthropology, natural history, and musical instruments.

We've worked with a volunteer, Thomas Flynn, to scan the objects from our collections and some architectural elements from our building. Objects - some of which can be seen below - include the Horniman's model of a Dodo, a large taxidermy eagle, an ornate communal pipe and the Horniman's iconic clocktower. More will be added over the coming weeks.

We believe our collections and the stories they tell are hugely inspiring, and we've seen how artists and more have responded to them over the years. We hope these 3D models of our collections will continue to inspire a whole new generation of makers in exciting ways, and are looking forward to seeing what they create.

 

Taxidermy Eagle by hornimanmuseum on Sketchfab

Meerschaum Pipe For Five Smokers by hornimanmuseum on Sketchfab

The Horniman Clocktower (3/4 Scan) by hornimanmuseum on Sketchfab

 

The 3D models are available to download from Sketchfab and can be used by 3D designers and enthusiasts for non-commercial projects. To see the full range of models, visit Sketchfab.

Mud Kitchen Mania

The families at our first Mud Kitchen (for children aged 5 and under)  in April had fun playing at making mud pies and other tasty treats which included a birthday cake, with twigs for candles, and a mud pizza with extra grass topping.

If you’ve never been to a mud kitchen before you might not know what to expect. There are only two essential ingredients: earth and water, everything else you can improvise.  

A mud kitchen can be set up in any outdoor space, with old pots and pans or plastic containers; small tables or even old milk crates to use as mixing stations and access to some water.  Don’t worry if you don’t have an outside tap, we used a rainwater butt which we filled with water and had more than enough for over 30 families.

Having fun playing with earth and water is probably one of most people’s earliest childhood memories. That’s not always the case for children today so we thought we’d bring back some messy fun for families in the Horniman Gardens; with the added bonus for grown-ups that they didn’t have to clean up afterwards (thanks to our great volunteers).

The children had fun pretending to cook their mud pies in our makeshift oven, experimenting with measuring and mixing as well as practising their pouring skills.  The adults had an important part to play too, advising their little chefs on which decorations to use on their creations – beautiful daisies and dandelions growing in the grass - rather than our Gardeners’ prized flowers.   

Families were able to drop into the mud kitchen anytime between 11.00 am and 12.30 pm on the Friday morning.  Some stayed for a short time to make one or two ‘cakes’ before heading off to enjoy some non-pretend food at our cafe.  Others were so engrossed in creating their masterpieces,that they stayed for the whole session.  It was great to see everyone, both adults and children, having so much fun outdoors and getting closer to nature.

If you want to join in the fun, and encourage your children to explore nature and enjoy playing outdoors then come along to one of our Mud Kitchens over the next few months.  They will be running monthly from May – July, check the website for further details, but be prepared to get messy!

Lewisham Healthy Walks

May is National Walking Month and a great time to get out and about with better weather and summer on its way. Here at the Horniman Museum we host Lewisham Healthy Walks - part of an NHS initiative to get people outdoors, keeping fit and healthy and socialising though friendly, local walking groups.

Every Thursday a lovely friendly group of people meet at the Horniman to take a leisurely walk around the gardens.  Many regular members of the group live locally and have grown up in and around Forest Hill and are big fans of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

Although some people might be put off by the steep hills, this is exactly the reason that makes the Horniman Gardens so popular with the Healthy Walkers. Walking up the hill makes this particular walking group a bit more like hard work, but a great way to get exercise!

Once a month the Museum hosts a ‘tea and talk’ for group members after the walk where the Healthy Walkers get to meet staff from behind the scenes at the Museum.  Highlights over the past year for the group have included find out all about corals with Jamie, our aquarium keeper, learning about conservation with Charlotte and Julia in the conservation labs and having a tour of the library with Helen and Gill, our Horniman librarians.

As well as the beautiful display gardens, the walkers often venture on to the Horniman Nature trail which is a world away from the hustle and bustle of London, yet just hidden away at the bottom of the gardens.

Although the group is open to all to join, many come to it for health reasons referred to by their GPs. 

Nina wanted to share her story:

"I was diagnosed with heart failure in January 2007.  Following medical treatment I had an 8 week exercise, nutritional and lifestyle course at Lewisham Hospital.  After this I attended active heart sessions and have continued these at Forest hill Pools.  A friend of mine who had been a leader told me about Lewisham Healthy Walks and I did try Ladywell Fields and Wells Park but having been to Horniman Park I decided this was the one for me.  Starting on the flat and then a steep incline it seemed perfect.  I liked the idea of group walking with a trained leader to look after us.  The discipline of regular walking and the social contact benefit s health and wellbeing (I mean making friends!) After many years I still enjoy it, seeing the changes through the seasons and all weathers and the changes in the park.  It also links into my memories of the park and museum with my parents and siblings.  Plus, mow we have monthly sessions at the end of the walk with a cup of tea, biscuits and fruit, but more importantly talks from the education staff which are always interesting.  Thank you Horniman Museum and Park and Jenny Budd."

Nina Gray-Lyons

 

Contact Jenny Budd the Healthy Walk Coordinator for Lewisham for more information about their programme of walks across the borough: Telephone 020 3049 3485 or email jenny.budd[@]nhs.net

Find out more about Healthy Walks at www.wfh.naturalengland.org.uk/walkfinder

And more about National Walking Month at http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/

A Maori Wero in Gallery Square

On the 12th of March, during Museum opening hours, Gallery Square was its usual busy blend of orientating school groups, parking prams and escaped toddlers.

At 5:30 the space lay silent and empty, cleared of the last visitor and interrupted only by the occasional late-working member of staff cutting across it on an errand. 

Two hours later Gallery Square was alive again, full of people listening intently to an orator, who speaking in the Maori language welcomed them as hypothetical members of another tribe, inviting them to make peace with him and put aside conflict.

 Singing as part of the powhiri

The orator was a member of Ngati Ranana, London’s Maori tribe, which has been in existence in different forms since the late 1950s.

Along with seventeen other members of Ngati Ranana he was at the Horniman to conduct a powhiri welcome ceremony. He was also about to witness a wero or challenge, performed by Maramara Totara, an organization of martial artists who fight with taiaha, perhaps the most iconic of Maori weapons.

 The wero

For the event in Gallery Square the Museum took a step back and we let our Maori guests steer things. As well as explaining the significance of the powhiri and wero, Ngati Ranana brought the audience into their ceremony, including them in their songs and speeches and, most movingly, greeting individual audience members with the hongi, an embrace in which a newcomer is welcomed through the pressing together of noses and the sharing of a breath.

 The hongi

Ngati Ranana and Maramara Totara briefly transformed Gallery Square into a place full of Maori significance and meaning. It was especially wonderful that our Maori guests shared this meaningfulness, generously taking in everyone present and embracing them as fellow tribesmen and women. 

Two days left for us to raise the remaining 8%!

We are inching every closer to reaching our total so we want to treat you to a look at Mark’s plans for the exhibition.

Mark has created this scale model to imagine how his paintings will sit in the gallery at the Horniman. In this model you may be able to make out pieces from his Paradise Birds, The Raft and Collected and Possessed series among others.

Alongside Mark’s work will be objects from our collection, shown on plinths in the model. These will be displayed as they are in storage, wrapped in plastic sheets, or in nests of tissue paper, evoking the wonder Mark experienced when he found them for the first time.

This really is the last chance to support our project and receive a beautiful reward in return. Our silk scarf and behind the scenes rewards include an invitation to the exhibition private view where you will be among the first able to see the realisation of this model.

We really need your help to raise the remaining £755. Please donate, upgrade your reward, and share our message so that we can make this exhibition happen.

Researching our Early Blackfoot Collections

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a visit from anthropology curators Anita Herle and Alison Brown and First Nations representatives Alan Pard and Charlene Wolfe. Our visitors were researching a collection of Blackfoot material which was accessioned by the Horniman in 1913 and which may have been collected in 1909 by John Eric Horniman, grandson of our founder, Frederick Horniman.

 

 

Alan, Charlene, Anita and Alison examine our Blackfoot collections in Hall 2 of our storage building.

Perhaps the most memorable object we came across was Horniman number 17.16, a pouch containing bark from the sweet pine (Abies Lasiocarpa). Alan explained to us how smoke from burning sweet pine bark is used in some smudging (or blessing) ceremonies by the Blackfoot Nation. A small altar of white clay is made, on which the bark is burnt, a bundle of feathers is then used to waft the smoke over the body of the person receiving the blessing.

It was remarkable, that even after a hundred years in the Horniman’s stores, the bundle still emitted the powerfully aromatic fragrance of sweet pine bark.

 

Alan investigates the sweet pine bark pouch

The last objects we looked at were probably made for sale to Europeans (25.51i and ii). Their purpose is unclear, but they may well have been intended to make up part of the saddle furniture of a horse. European influence is evident in the use of the Christian cross and letters, but traditional symbols are also present like the pipe and buffalo. The beads are tiny and would have been difficult to thread, we were struck by how long it must have taken to make the objects. The fineness of the work was mesmerising and the overall effect very beautiful indeed.

Two beautifully beaded objects. Could they be saddle furniture?

One of the repeated pleasures of being a curator is examining objects alongside experts.  When the objects have a special value and meaning for those experts, as was the case for Alan and Charlene, that pleasure becomes something more profound.

 

 

 

About the Art: Mark Fairnington

With just a week left in our campaign to bring Mark Fairnington's exhibition here, we spoke to Mark about his artwork Doncombe Aga Khan.

What I wanted is something that wherever you are, you've got a sense of this physical presence.

This is a very large painting, very detailed. How did you go about painting it?

"I'd say it's very like taxidermy. You start with an internal structure and then you build out, add the fine details and so on.

When painting, I like the way the brushwork highlights all the different aspects of a subject. Some of them are like lines that wrap around the shape and give a sense of volume, and then you come up to the ear and they just become hairs, it's quite a free flowing process"

You've removed the background, the bull is almost cut out. Why?

"The only bit that I really had to think about was whether to have some little shadows under the bull or not. In the end, I decided to go for something that's an ambiguous space, it's not like a real space.

The painting that I was thinking of was a painting by Stubbs called Whistlejacket, which is a huge painting of a horse. He has these little shadows underneath the hooves."

This painting of a bull is one of six you've made, isn't it?

"Yes, in this series of six paintings, called The Bulls, they all face the same way. They're all exactly life size. They're all on canvases of the same height.

It's like postcards or cigarette cards or something like that, but with fine details and rendered in life size proportions. There's also an element of ambiguity, the work looks realistic, but also they are framing knowledge and information in an original, and quite abstract, way."


We want to stage an exhibition of Mark's paintings here at the Horniman later this year - and we need your help to make it happen. Donate now and you'll get great rewards

 

Art Happens: New artwork

With just two weeks of our crowdfunding project left we are excited to give you an exclusive first look at one of Mark’s newest works, but there is still time for you to support and be a part of this new exhibition.

Okapi, a new work by Mark Fairnington, is a painting of the eye of a beautiful specimen which is the temporary star of the Natural History Gallery here at the Horniman.

Artist Mark Fairnington can remember visiting the Natural History Museum and being transfixed by a jungle diorama which included an Okapi specimen. The Okapi is a distant relative of the giraffe, although you might think it loos similar to a zebra. Later, when this diorama was dismantled and the Okapi put into storage, Mark feared he would never see it again.

Fast forward to March 2015 and the very same specimen has been loaned to us as part of the redisplay of the entrance to our much-loved Natural History gallery. This new area invites visitors to explore our fascination with nature through star specimens from our Natural History collections. It is also an exciting opportunity for the Horniman to borrow fascinating large-animal specimens from other institutions, and the Okapi is the first.

 

By supporting us, you have the chance to own two of Mark’s beautiful eye prints of their very own, Tyger Tyger and Zebra, as well as a Zebra tote bag, both available only as part of this crowd-funding project.

We are now 40% funded and have only 14 days left to raise the money to fund Mark’s exhibition. Please continue to help by donating and sharing our campaign so that we can show off more of Mark’s fascinating paintings.

Collecting Carnival in Brazil

Musical Instrument curator Margaret tells us about her recent research trip to Rio de Janeiro to collect instruments relating to carnival (with photographs by Sandra D'Angelo).

In February, I spent time in Rio de Janeiro collecting materials for a new display of instruments, costume and film representing performances of some of the 'blocos' or bands of musicians and dancers, whose lively parades are an integral part of the street life of the city during carnival.

Filming focussed on the samba baterias, with percussionists who play a variety of drums, together with rattles and agogo bells.

They parade behind the dancers and in front of the 'camion', a lorry equipped with a sound system to amplify the voices of the singers, and the sounds of the plucked stringed and other instruments that are played by musicians standing on its roof.

The streets are usually closed for these events, and in the case of the parade of Monobloco, whose instruments will be shown in the exhibition, one of the city's main arterial roads, Avenida Presidente Vargas, was shut down to accommodate not just the large bloco, but also the million strong army of fans who followed the parade.  

Twitter Museum Week 2015

Next week, the Horniman will join museums and galleries from across the UK and Europe for the second Twitter #MuseumWeek.

#MuseumWeek will take place from Monday 23 March to Sunday 29 March.

Museums will be tweeting using the #MuseumWeek hashtag, telling stories about their collections, exhibitions and events and showing what goes on behind the scenes.

The project will see museums tweet using a different theme and hashtag for each day of the week - with everyone else getting involved too. 

  • On Monday 23, we'll be tweeting the secrets of the musuem using #secretsMW. 
  • For the #souvenirsMW in Tuesday 24 March, we'll tell you about our gifts and ask you to tell us your favourite souvenirs. 
  • On Wednesday 25 March, we'll turn our attention to buildings with the #architectureMW hashtag.
  • On  Thursday 26 March, we'll be showing art inspired by the Horniman and our collections and asking you to share yiurs with the hashtag #inspirationMW
  • Friday 27 March is all about #familyMW - lots about families in our collections or visiting the Horniman. 
  • On Saturday 28 March, we'll be asking you to tweet the favourite thing you have seen in the Horniman using #favMW
  • Finally, on Sunday 29 March, we want to see your photos posing like our objects -  using #poseMW

You can follow the Horniman's #MuseumWeek activity by signing up to Twitter and following us @HornimanMuseum

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