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Objects, disciplines and the Manchester Museum

At the turn of the nineteenth century, museums in Europe and North America were at their largest and most powerful. New buildings were bigger; objects flooded into them, and more people visited them than ever before. The Manchester Museum is an ideal candidate for understanding cultures of display in twentieth-century Britain. It is a treasure trove of some four million priceless objects that are irreplaceable and unique. Like many large European collections, the origins of the Manchester Museum are to be found in a private cabinet: that of John Leigh Philips. This book traces the fate of his cabinet from his death in 1814. The establishment of the Manchester Natural History Society (MNHS) allowed naturalists to carve out a space in Manchester's cultural landscape. The Manchester Museum's development was profoundly affected by the history of the University in which it operated. In January 1868, the Natural History Society formally dissolved, and an interim commission took control of its collections; the Manchester Geological Society transferred its collections the following year. The new collection was to be purely scientific, comprising geology, zoology and botany, with no place for some of the more exotic specimens of the Society. The objects in the collection became part of Manchester's civic identity, bringing with them traces of science, empire and the exotic. Other museological changes were afoot in the 1990s. Natural history collections became key sites for public engagement with environmental issues and biodiversity and more recently as sites for exhibiting art.

On 25 September 1911 the battleship Liberté exploded in Toulon harbour. This tragedy is just one of the many disasters that the French fleet suffered at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries and also represents the peak of these calamities, since it is undoubtedly the most deadly suffered by a French Navy ship in peacetime. The aim of this article is to study how the navy managed this disaster and the resulting deaths of service personnel, which were all the more traumatic because the incident happened in France’s main military port and in circumstances that do not match the traditional forms of death at sea.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
The fate of Namibian skulls in the Alexander Ecker Collection in Freiburg

This article explores the history of the Alexander Ecker Collection and situates it within the larger trajectory of global collecting of human remains during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is then linked to the specific context of the genocide in then German South West Africa (1904–8), with the central figure of Eugen Fischer. The later trajectory of the collection leads up to the current issues of restitution. The Freiburg case is instructive since it raises issues about the possibilities and limitations of provenance research. At the same time, the actual restitution of fourteen human remains in 2014 occurred in a way that sparked serious conflict in Namibia which is still on-going four years later. In closing, exigencies as well as pressing needs in connection with the repatriation and (where possible) rehumanisation of human remains are discussed.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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The museum in the twentieth century

Conclusion: the museum in the twentieth century ‘A museum is like a living organism’, argued William Henry Flower, Director of the British Museum (Natural History), ‘it requires continual and tender care. It must grow, or it will perish; and the cost and labour required to maintain it in a state of vitality is not yet by any means fully realised or provided for.’1 These were prescient words at the turn of the nineteenth century for his institution and others. There are now over four million objects in the Manchester Museum (figure 7.1). They are no longer

in Nature and culture
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Collecting networks and the museum

’s collecting activities, rather than detail every acquisition, or embarking upon a prosopographical survey, I seeks trends and patterns, illuminated by key acquisitions, from geological and Egyptological founding gifts (many of them in fact loans) to the botanical and archaeological fieldwork of the late twentieth century. This is thereby a qualitative analysis of museum acquisition, complementing recent studies that have assessed the history of collecting in quantitative terms.7 Foundation and empire8 The Manchester Museum and other civic collections expanded in their early

in Nature and culture
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In the summer of 2016, the Irish Times newspaper published the text of a twenty-nine-page document discovered by an Irish student in the 1980s (Boland 2016 ). Penned by an anonymous former staff member of St Ita’s Hospital outside Dublin, formerly Portrane Asylum, the document provided an account of daily life in the institution from the mid-twentieth century and a brief account of the history of the asylum. The document came to the student through a doctor, who pulled it from a filing cabinet as he showed the student around the

in An archaeology of lunacy

curating of them, need to be mixed up much, much more. A fundamental reason for my argument is the extraordinary interaction apparent in New Zealand society then and now, quite distinctive in an international context, which belies the separation demanded by (post) colonial politics. The intermingled histories of Māori and Pākehā over the twentieth century, and the ways in which they are materialised in everyday objects, call for a particular kind of curator in the twenty-first century, a role I sketch out in the conclusion. A history of history (and history curating) I

in Curatopia
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archetypical asylum building, eclipsing the institutions which came before. By the end of the twentieth century, many of the large asylums – those constructed in the first wave of asylum building before 1845 and those constructed after – ceased operation as hospitals or facilities for the poor. Many were closed, others repurposed, and a few were demolished or left exposed to weather and vandalism. The result of this mass closure was that dozens of large institutional buildings in English and Irish towns and cities stood empty and in need of reuse

in An archaeology of lunacy

occurring. Call it a ‘decentring of the West’, perhaps the principal achievement of the last half of the twentieth century. Two driving forces of this shift can be named, in shorthand: decolonisation and globalisation. Proceeding at economic, social, political and cultural levels, these processes are uneven and sometimes contradictory. Decolonisation and globalisation are linked, but distinct, historical dynamics. This is, naturally, a crude generalisation, painting with a broom. But it will have to suffice, for now, to characterise the changing times of the curator in a

in Curatopia
Pluralism and the politics of change in Canada’s national museums

contours of the Senate Library, while to the west the long, low-slung contours of Moriyama and Teshima’s Canadian War Museum emerge from a grassy embankment. On the Quebec side of the river, the curving organic forms created by Douglas Cardinal for the Canadian Museum of History face across to the high bluff crowned by the Parliament buildings. The commissioning of Israeli-Canadian, Japanese-Canadian and Blackfoot architects to design new homes for these three museums was as emblematic of the multicultural construct of Canadian identity promoted by late twentieth-century

in Curatopia