Category: scott-shields

Write your own history in the Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford have a campaign entitled My Ashmolean My Museum to raise the final part of its 61 million modernisation and expansion.

Award-winning architect Rick Mather has designed a new building to replace all but the Grade I listed Cockerell building. His design will double the existing gallery space, allow environmental control, and create a dedicated Education Centre and conservation facilities. Working in partnership with designers Metaphor, the Ashmolean’s curatorial staff are planning a number of innovative new approaches to the display of the Museum’s objects.

Rick Mather has been the creative force behind a number of recent high-profile developments, including: London’s Natural History Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the Wallace Collection; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, USA, and, closer to home, the Sloane Robinson and ARCO buildings at Keble College, Oxford.

The Ashmolean will, at long last, have a world-class building to match its world-class collections.

In return for a minimum support of 50, you can choose to have your name or dedication included on the Benefactors’ Bridge.

To celebrate the launch of the appeal, three new photographs from My Ashmolean My Museum have been produced. Featuring the actor, Sir Ben Kingsley, the architect, Rick Mather, and 8 year-old Oxfordshire resident, Freya Darius-Nobes, their portraits represent themes from the new displays, the building of the new Ashmolean, and the joy of discovering new stories about the collections.

This is such an exciting time at the Ashmolean. I am really pleased to have been asked to get involved. I am lucky enough to live close by to what is a truly world-class museum, looking after treasures from across the globe. My photograph illustrates West meets East one of the themes of the new galleries and a story very close to my own heart. I cant wait to see it on display. Sir Ben Kingsley

My Ashmolean, My Museum is a photographic campaign produced in collaboration with high profile individuals and members of the local community. Each portrait tells a unique story about the Ashmoleans renowned collections of art and archaeology and the sitters relationship with the object.

The fine-art photographer, Theo Chalmers has produced the eye-catching series of portrait photographs to convey the spirit and excitement of the new Museum building, in the lead up to the grand opening in November 2009.

It’s an interesting feature.

Tell us your best story related to a Museum visit…

Fields of Gold

Image of gold coinsA massive haul of 824 gold coins from the Iron Age have been discovered in the United Kingdom.

The coins were found using a metal detector buried in a field near Wickham Market in Suffolk. They were enclosed within a broken pottery jar and had a value when in circulation estimated at todays value of between 500,000 and 1m.

The coins dated from 40BC to AD15 according to the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service and is the largest find of Iron Age coins since 1849. It is thought that the majority of the coins were produced by the tribe of the Iceni who lived in parts of what is now Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Ms Plouviez, Archaeological Officer of the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service says:

“It’s a good, exciting find. It gives us a lot of new information about the late Iron Age, and particularly East Anglia in the late Iron Age.

“The discovery is important because it highlights the probable political, economic and religious importance of an area.

“It certainly suggests there was a significant settlement nearby. As far as we understand, it was occupied by wealthy tribes or subtribes”.

It is thought that after a treasure trove inquest the coins will be offered to Museums at their current value.

Archaeology and Tourism – in synergy or conflict?

Interesting conference debating the inter-relationship between archaeology and the tourism industry.

Details below:

Organizer: Dr. Noel B. Salazar (University of Leuven)

In a bid to obtain a piece of the lucrative global tourism pie, destinations worldwide are trying to play up their local distinctiveness. This is sometimes done by borrowing from traditional ethnology an ontological and essentialist vision of exotic cultures, conceived as static entities with clearly defined characteristics. Ideas of old-style colonial anthropology and archaeology objectifying, reifying, homogenizing, and naturalizing peoples are widely (mis)used in international tourism by individuals and organizations staking claims of identity and cultural belonging on imagined notions of place and locality. Ironically, this is happening at a time when anthropologists and archaeologists alike prefer more constructivist approaches to human heritage, taking it for granted that cultures and societies were never passive, bounded and homogeneous entities.

Of course, academic writings (often outdated ones) are only one source of inspiration that shape tourism imaginaries of peoples and places, but they are an underestimated and under-researched one. While there is a growing literature on how fieldworkers engage with tourism, at their research sites or on a theoretical level, there has been little systematic investigation of how archaeological and anthropological knowledge is (mis)used, la carte, by tourism stakeholders to produce easily sellable interpretations of heritage (and, in the process, transforming local peoples lives). This panel presents empirical case studies that critically analyse which aspects of the two disciplines are used in tourism to create nostalgic essentializing imagery of so-called authentic traditions and cultures and what the ascribed and self-identified roles and responsibilities of scholars are in these processes.

If you are interested in participating, please go to the conference website (,
click the Propose a paper link and follow the instructions.
Note that the deadline is February 6.
General instructions about submitting abstracts:
More information about the conference in general:
High-quality papers will be selected for publication in an edited volume.

Head of Amenhotep III returns to Egypt

A 14th Century BC Egyptian sculpture, the Head of Amenhotep III smuggled out in the early 1990s has finally been returned to Egypt.

The head was smuggled out by Jonathan Tokeley-Perry who was convicted to a six year custodial sentence in 1997 of illegal smuggling. It is known that the head was diguised as a reproduction before being shipped to the US via Switzerland and the UK.

Dr Zahi Hawass was instrumental in bringing the head back to Egypt in a complex case involving two separate criminal proceedings in the UK and US.

Karen Sanig, Head of Art Law at Mishcon de Reya says:

“In this case the determination of Dr Zahi Hawass backed by the Egyptian Government enabled a successful resolution without recourse to litigation. Other countries affected by looting and trafficking of their cultural heritage property often have neither the resources of the Arab Republic of Egypt nor the dedication of its most important archaeologist, Dr Hawass. However the return of the Head does show that sheer persistence pays dividends in this area.”

Egypt Yesterday

Not been to Egypt and looking to go away somewhere….

A picture of Egypt

After 2 weeks of freezing cold weather here in London and it seems everyone either having a cold or flu this photo should point you in the right direction.

Thanks Sandro!