#askthecurators One Week To Go!
There is only a week left of our What’s In Store: The Curator’s Choice exhibition and our curators Tim and Melanie have been answering some more of the great questions that we’ve been asked during the exhibition.
Hi Grace, thank you for your question – the simple answer is that unfortunately the Tullie House collection doesn’t have any dinosaurs in it. It is possible that there were dinosaurs in Cumbria as Britain was once home to around 100 different types of dinosaur. But there have not be any dinosaur bones found in the county, most of the dinosaur fossils in the UK are found on the South coast, known as the ‘Jurassic Coast’.
We would love to have an exhibition about dinosaurs and always keep an eye out for a suitable exhibition to bring to Carlisle.
One visitor asked “Why is it so dark in the corner?”
Melanie our Curator of Fine and Decorative Art answers “Light levels are kept deliberately low to enable the museum to look after the objects. Some of our objects can be damaged by light which can cause them to fade and lose their original colours“
Our Curator of Archaeology, Tim answered this one “The short answer to this is ‘Yes, they did’.
The Latin word for pig is porcus from which we get the word pork. Study of the animal bones recovered in excavations at Castle Street, in the early 1980s suggested that the animals were slaughtered before reaching the age of three years old which shows that they were being killed for food.
There are also some recipes for cooking pork that have survived from Roman times. The cookbook by Apicius contains a number of these such as one for pork kebabs. Another recipe that survives is for a pork and fig pie. However, many of them state that you need wild boar, which was hunted regularly, but there is no reason why they couldn’t have used domesticated pigs instead.”
Sophie T asked “Why do you have so much Roman stuff? Why not Tudors?”
Tim, who looks after the Roman collection here at Tullie answers “The Romans were here for about 400 years (72/3 AD to 410) and the Tudors for only about 100 years (1485 to 1603).
The Romans also had a large Empire to get stuff from and made things, like pottery, and so there was a lot to leave for us to find. The Tudors didn’t make stuff on such a large scale and so there was less around.
Also much of the Tullie House Collection comes from Hadrian’s Wall. This was only used by the Romans and so there are no Tudor objects from the places like Birdoswald because they did not live there.
There are some items in the museum which date back to Tudor times though, our Reivers gallery contains some pieces from Tudor times, as does our Guildhall Museum – which is a Tudor building in the city centre.”
Abby and Rose Holliday asked “How long has Tullie House been around for, when was it built?”
Melanie told us “The old house was built for the Tullie family in 1689, with the later Victorian extensions added in 1892.”
Tim adds “When these extensions were added it opened to the public and became a museum and Institute for the Arts. The date, 1893, can be seen over the door into the building at the top of the ramp from the garden. Until 1990, it was also the home of Carlisle’s library, which can now be found in The Lanes.
The carving on the stone is called a phallus and represents male creative energy. The Romans believed that this energy could be used to stop bad luck, They carved them onto their buildings to make sure that the buildings would be protected. They are found on many of the surviving building in the forts along Hadrian’s Wall as well as in Roman cities like Pompeii.
Jess P asked “Why do you have dresses?”
“The museum collects dresses amongst other items of clothing because they were often worn by local people and are an important part of human history.”
Kath asked “Can I buy the Dior dress?”
“Sorry Kath, we cannot sell items in the collections. The collections are permanently owned by the city for the benefit of the community today and in the future.”
As ever on #askthecurators the Natural Science collections are making people curious.
Jessica B asked “Where was the shark caught?”
Good question Jessica, our little porbeagle shark was caught just off the Solway Coast in West Cumbria, not far from Carlisle. Porbeagles get their name from the Cornish word por meaning harbour because they are often seen very close to the shore or in harbours.
The porbeagle is native to all coastal regions of the UK. The largest one in Britain was seen just off the coast of Tynemouth in the North East and is thought to have been about 12 feet long, about 4 times bigger than ours!
Jenson asked “Where did the peacock come from?”
Another good question Jenson, this type of peacock is not native to Britain, they were originally from India and Sri Lanka. But rich people in the Victorian times (about 150 years ago) would bring the birds home to keep as pets.
This one was collected from Cumwhitton in 1990.
Thank you all for your great questions on #askthecurators over the last couple of months – we’ve really enjoyed answering them and we’ve even learnt some more things about our objects! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of our answers.