Monthly Archives: December 2010

Secret Egypt: Part 4


Steve and Alice check the structure (c) Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

A quick update on the plinth and boxing for the Abu Simbel model….

Steve and Alice, our technical team, have been working hard on all aspects of the exhibition build. Having the model early has allowed them to build its plinth and some boxing to hide the unfinished edges. I think it looks great and can’t wait to see it in the exhibition!

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Street Art Season: A personal pictorial review

Over the last few of months the gallery has immersed itself into the world of street art and graffiti and I’ve attempted to document some of what been going on through the lens of my trusted camera. What follows is my very own pictorial review of my involvement in the project.

Street Art Saturday

We decided to launch the street season with a day devoted to letting street artists do what they do best: Artists involved on the day included: Pahnl, As One, Newso, Agent, Ame72 and Id-iom.


The street art season’s main focus was the three exhibitions that we organised. The pictures below are taken from Street Art: Contemporary Prints from the V&A, Fresh Paint and Mohammed Ali’s Breaking down the Wall.

Street Art Giveaway

One particular part of Street Art Season which I’ve really enjoyed being part of is our weekly free street art. Each week we leave pictorial clues on Twitter and Facebook and whoever grabs the artwork first gets to keep it. Below are just a couple of my favourite spots.

Dominic Bubb, Exhibitions Officer

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Great apes, graffiti and grovelling

Oh dear, looks like it’s been a while since I did this last…. life has been a little hectic.

Condition reporting of loan exhibitions has formed a larger part of my work recently. Face to Face was an installation of huge images of rescued apes whose life story is written on their faces perhaps even more clearly than on humans. Again, they drew me to look at them as images; quite a feat when you’re looking from a few inches at a face which is higher than you!

Ditto the V&A Street Art images: I didn’t expect to like these, but found them lively and engaging – although their make-up meant that a number had problems to be noted – mostly involving cockling (waviness across the sheet). We had to overcome issues with static electricity to clean a perspex case and install a couple of pieces of book art without additional fluff – we couldn’t find an anti-static brush and it had to be done while the V&A couriers were on site (that’s the problem with part-time colleagues – not there to ask where things are….). Anyway, my retired electrical design engineer father (aka the Herbert Technical Advice telephone help desk – he’s the sort who can think around most types of problem) suggested handling with slightly damp cloths – which worked much better than we expected. So now it’s just a case of routine inspecting to make sure cockling doesn’t get worse, and keeping the usual eye on environmental conditions.

I’d completed most of a packaging job for some artwork from a previous exhibition being sent back to India, when I received a frantic call mid-afternoon from the colleague I was doing it for to say the courier suddenly wanted pick it up in the morning! We both dropped everything and a surprisingly short time later the lot was bomb-proof and ready with no corners cut. Fortunately, not many folks made it through to look through the conservation room doors to be treated to the sight of us on the floor with large bits of packing material, parcel tape etc. It doesn’t do to have too much dignity in this job – but maybe a line should be drawn at photographs of me cutting card on the only large flat surface available at short notice… Read the rest of this entry

Secret Egypt: Part 3

On a cold winter’s morning in late November three intrepid explorers set forth from Coventry to a secret location in Birmingham to collect a treasure for the Secret Egypt exhibition! OK, that makes the trip sound a lot more glamorous than it was.

In reality it was absolutely freezing and there was a reasonable about of lifting, shifting and careful manoeuvring. As you can see, the treasure came in two parts and, as it is mostly made from delicate plaster, it had to be handled and packed with care. The most difficult part was finding a way of securing the delicate model to the side of the van, to prevent it from moving.

Carefully does it... © Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery

You may be wondering what the object is and why it’s going in an exhibition about ancient Egypt… The model is of Abu Simbel, an ancient temple right in the south of Egypt. The model was made in the 1960s for a film – Khartoum. It’s a very accurate copy of the real temple, down to the hieroglyphs along the top and the earthquake damage to the second statue, which is why we chose to display it.

Where does this go? © Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery

The temple itself was commissioned by Ramesses II, or Ramesses the Great, one of the kings featured in Secret Egypt – How well do we know the ancient Egyptians? The actual temple is enormous – most people only reach half way up the plinth the statues sit on. As we can’t get the real temple in our exhibition this model gives a great sense of the scale of Ramesses’ buildings and of his achievements.

Almost ready to go! © Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery


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The Herbert’s Peace Collecting Project

Themes of peace and reconciliation are of key importance to the city of Coventry. This stems from experiences during the Second World War but continues today through the lives and work of people of Coventry. We have highlighted this in our Peace and Reconciliation gallery and we now want to expand our collections around these themes.

As part of this we are keen to collect stories of war and peace from local people. Together with Coventry Transport Museum we have created a new website where you can add your memories and images around a range of themes and events.

We are also interested in material linked to themes of peace and reconciliation with a local connection, for our collection. This could be banners, badges and clothing from peace demonstrations but also photographs and objects illustrating your personal story. If you have anything you think we might be interested in for the collection, please email Natalie:

Please note we can not accept everything offered. We can not accept any items left at the museum without prior arrangement with a member of staff.


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