“I want to lead the Victorian life, surrounded by exquisite clutter.”

My latest project in Ludlow is an exciting one.  It’s a chance for me to be creative and make an impact on a permanent display area in the new museum in Shrewsbury.  The content of the whole museum is being planned and discussed, designed and put together.  I have been tasked with filling two large cabinets in the natural history section.

I am working with Phil Scoggins in Shrewsbury who has given me two initial ideas they had for the cabinets (which are roughly 2m x 2m and quite deep).  They were thinking along the lines of a “Cabinet of Curiosities” for one of them.  This would involve the typically Victorian approach of filling it with a variety of objects from across the natural history collection, each with a story to tell.  The challenge is to choose objects that fit a theme/story or exemplify the Victorian style of collecting, as opposed to a random assortment of curios.  It was suggested that the other cabinet could feature the Victorian fascination with the similarly inaccessible worlds: outer space and microscopic.  The problem is that we don’t have a Victorian telescope, as we once thought we did.

It is up to me to look through the collection and find out as much as I can about the various objects to see if the above themes can be explored and in what way, or if not: what other relevant stories can our collections tell visitors? Something a wee bit novel.  It’s fun to have such a flexible project but of course it means that it’s very challenging too.  I’ve come up with two broad approaches that I really like and have submitted them to Phil.  Let’s hope he likes them and I can tell you all about it!

In the meantime, I found a Victorian microscope (which goes along nicely with one of the proposed ideas) and Ludlow also has a large selection of amazing slides.  I spent some time yesterday having a good look at them: I can’t wait to get them under the microscope to see what they specimens themselves look like. Here are some images: enjoy!

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