Shall I take it bit more off the top for you sir?
Another one of those unique opportunities to record an unusual job in the Museum came up recently when Gabby, one of the conservation placements, was putting the facial reconstructions back in the second case.
Philip II’s hair was in a slight state of disarray and Gabby kindly reached into the display to ‘tease those tangled tresses’ back into place.
Not a problem the real king would have troubled himself over unduly, I’d imagine, as he enforced Macedonian hegemony over Greece and made plans to take on the Persian Empire.
Had he troubled more over his coiffure, might the course of history have been different? Somehow I can’t imagine him saying: “Cancel the battle of Chaeronea – bad hair day!”
Or was it only the Spartans who took pains over their hair? The study of hair in archaeology and ancient history is by no means a brand new speciality but this must be pretty well unique as a niche activity!
Emptying one of the Ancient Worlds cases (April 2013)
Shortly after the opening of the new Ancient Worlds last October, the curators and all the other staff who worked on the project, could have been forgiven for thinking that now they could get on with the rest of their lives. Only it didn’t quite work out like that. In any project, there are always what are euphemistically referred to as ‘snagging issues’ that have to be sorted out, in the weeks following completion.
Ancient Worlds is no different. Some of the shelves needed consolidating and we picked up a number of annoying errors in the labels that had evaded our proof-checking. We also received a number of comments from frustrated visitors who had struggled to read some of the labels. For all these reasons we emptied the first gallery of objects last week to sort out the snagging.
Curatorial placement Anna Garnett and student volunteer Suzanna Haddow working in the archaeology gallery
I must admit I feared it would take a lot longer but fortunately we had some really wonderful support from volunteers and placements and members of the conservation team. Within a day or so we had emptied the cases.
The empty archaeology gallery
That was the week before last. The contractors came in and sorted out the shelves. Meanwhile I was sorting out the labels. We have switched to a card based system rather than using transparencies. Some visitors struggled to read the transparencies and printing them on card makes them more legible. Not only is it easier to read them, it gives us more flexibility if we want to change exhibits. With transparencies we would have had to empty the case and ask a contractor to come in and install the labels. With card labels we simply remove the card and have another printed.