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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.

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The museum in the twentieth century
Samuel J.M.M. Alberti

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
Thomas Vaisset

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
Reinhart Kößler

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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Collecting networks and the museum
Samuel J.M.M. Alberti

’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
Re-thinking Ludwik Fleck’s concept of the thought-collective according to the case of Serbian archaeology
Monika Milosavljević

(Pruitt, 2011). Introduction of culture-historical approach into Serbian archaeology Let us therefore look more closely at one particular example of Serbian archaeology. During the first half of the twentieth century the discipline was predominantly marked by the ideological domination of a single authority who actively suppressed scientific debate, but also the development of new scientists stemming from emerging generations and dissenting interpretations of the past. This authority was Miloje M. Vasić, a classical archaeologist educated in Berlin and Munich in the

in Communities and knowledge production in archaeology
Open Access (free)
Antonín Salač and the French School at Athens
Thea De Armond

-, French- and Greek-led excavations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: ‘[Y]ou would be given authorisation without difficulty and I would help you financially… there would be, doubtless, important discoveries to be made there. Have no illusions about the value of new excavations; hardly any of the first order remain, while the questions on Samothrace are very important.’42 On Picard’s recommendation, then, Salač chose Samothraki. At first, he attempted to leverage Greek connections to access the site. Salač sought advice as to how he might secure an

in Communities and knowledge production in archaeology

The dynamic processes of knowledge production in archaeology and elsewhere in the humanities and social sciences are increasingly viewed within the context of negotiation, cooperation and exchange, as the collaborative effort of groups, clusters and communities of scholars. Shifting focus from the individual scholar to the wider social contexts of her work, this volume investigates the importance of informal networks and conversation in the creation of knowledge about the past, and takes a closer look at the dynamic interaction and exchange that takes place between individuals, groups and clusters of scholars in the wider social settings of scientific work. Various aspects of and mechanisms at work behind the interaction and exchange that takes place between the individual scholar and her community, and the creative processes that such encounters trigger, are critically examined in eleven chapters which draw on a wide spectrum of examples from Europe and North America: from early modern antiquarians to archaeological societies and practitioners at work during the formative years of the modern archaeological disciplines and more recent examples from the twentieth century. The individual chapters engage with theoretical approaches to scientific creativity, knowledge production and interaction such as sociology and geographies of science, and actor-network theory (ANT) in their examination of individual–collective interplay. The book caters to readers both from within and outside the archaeological disciplines; primarily intended for researchers, teachers and students in archaeology, anthropology, classics and the history of science, it will also be of interest to the general reader.

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Katherine Fennelly

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
Bronwyn Labrum

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