World Smile Day: Ten faces found in museum objects

To celebrate World Smile Day, I decided to take a quick walk around the new Science and Technology galleries at the National Museum of Scotland looking for some smiles in our objects. Have you ever seen a face in an object? It starts perhaps by noticing a couple of eyes, perhaps a nose and if you are lucky a big wide mouth.

Telephone wall mounting, with a hand-generator, made by Sterling of London, 1905 – 1910.search
Telephone wall mounting, with a hand-generator, made by Sterling of London, 1905 – 1910.
I first came across a small book called Faces about 12 years ago, loved its simplicity and bought it immediately. It’s a photographic book by Francois and Jean Robert, with practically no text inside. In many ways, it doesn’t require any words, as the photographs of faces they have found in many everyday objects speak for themselves. Once captured by the idea that every object hides noses, eyes and mouths – it’s hard to stop looking for them, and hard to stop seeing them. Not every object was smiling for me today, but I have selected ten technical museum objects that have some good expressions on them, if you look hard enough. Read the full blog over here!

Doors Open Day: The ultimate destination for a curious mind

Compassion emerges from imagining the world alive.

These are the words of Alexandra Horowitz, in a book called On Looking: Eleven Walks with Eleven Experts. Horowitz explores the way in which we can become more present in the daily quotidian, by stepping a familiar route alongside the footsteps of eleven different people, some experts like geologists, but also her toddler and her dog. With these fresh eyes alongside her, it is possible for previously unseen elements to emerge. As they share what excites them – from the cracks on a pavement, to the font selected for a sign.

butterfliesmix

Earlier this year I was also lucky enough to follow in some different footsteps, although whilst on a tour of some unfamiliar grounds – the National Museums Scotland Collection Centre. I came away with my mind afresh with new perspectives and new things to try to see when looking around me. It’s Doors Open Day at the Collection Centre this weekend, our tours were fully booked and so we have now welcomed many more feet to explore the collection further. Read more about what I discovered here! 

Victorian Photography: When colour seeps into the past

I’ve recently been thinking about when colour seeps into the past… These thoughts were spurred on by a talk from Chris Wild at the Culture 24 Let’s Get Real conference this September. Chris founded a blog called Retronaut, which shares incredible images of the past that can:

take your map of time and tear tiny holes in it.

Chris started his talk by sharing that he first discovered he could travel in time as a child, whilst in front of the wondrous invention that is the television. Sat in front of a glowing square box is where Chris stumbled across Bagpuss, the children’s television show which shifts from sepia to colour when Bagpuss wakes up. Chris credited this programme as a key inspiration for his current endeavours with Retronaut.

Stereocard depicting ‘Patent Pulpit: Seven minutes to one!’ by Michael Burr, 1862. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.
Stereocard depicting ‘Patent Pulpit: Seven minutes to one!’ by Michael Burr, 1862. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.

As I returned from the conference I couldn’t shake these thoughts of a colourful past from my head. I decided to delve into the Victorian Sensation photography collections that we have online and explore these colour Victorian images a little more myself. Of course, there was no form of commercial colour photography available at that time, and instead various forms of painting, colouring and tinting were applied. Read the full blog here!