Written by Freddy Rendall. Edited by Steve Lawson.
The place? The impressive roof-top restaurant on the top floor of the Ashmolean.
The time? 2 hours before an as-yet unmet deadline.
The reason? The launch of the Ashmolean Talking Objects blog, a new space to foster closer interaction between students at Oxford, Oxford Brookes, and the other Colleges and Universities based in Oxford, and the museum.
It has always amazed me how many of my friends have never visited the Ashmolean. Perhaps it is too close? Too easy? Too free? Behind the lines of tourists frantically snapping its old columns lie some of the most remarkable and interesting collections in the country. Masterful drawings, magnificent musical instruments, some wonderful artefacts; few of which are regularly used or even known about by the wider student body. This is where Talking Objects comes in: through handling sessions run with experts, to sessions with curators on specific objects, the blog empowers you to take any object, picture or artefact that interests you, and run with it (but not literally) – to write an informed, but also light-hearted piece inspired by the object; perhaps relating to much wider themes or ideas. It is a remarkable opportunity to engage with the museum collections regardless, of course.
As we all toasted the success of the new venture with some guilty ‘mid-afternoon booze’, it was clear that this was a project that had real potential. For the first time, it will be simple and easy for students from all disciplines to make use of museum expertise and resources, while the articles that are produced have the chance to gain a real readership. The first object handling session looks to be with the Contemporary China department, while the high number of replies from the initial call has been very encouraging.
Call for Submissions
Now, this blog needs you! Do you have a favourite object in the Ashmolean collections? Want to share your thoughts with the world? Here’s how:
We are looking for:
Written pieces of approximately 500 words.
Pieces of art – be that photographs, poetry, a drawing or painting! Any response to an object accompanied by a short paragraph about why this is meaningful and what inspired the work.
- You choose an object, or a couple of objects, from the museum and discuss their significance.
- Your piece should be light-hearted and engaging, aimed at a student audience. It should not be an academic essay – learned for sure, but not boring!
- You may like to set up a debate about museums and heritage – for example, should museums house objects not from their country of origin?
- Images and basic information (provenance, measurements, museum history) can be provided if necessary.
- We can also offer opportunities to handle objects and chat with a curator about your piece.
Blog URL: http://blogs.ashmolean.org%2