Category Archives: Events
This Saturday (13 June) come and see a famous Dodo as part of our What’s In Store: The Curator’s Choice exhibition this between 10am and 11am at Tullie House. To celebrate we will be posting a Dodo Roadshow #askthecurators Special!
The flying visit to Carlisle is part of Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s Dodo Roadshow from Lands End to John O’Groats. The Oxford staff will be displaying the Dodo model from the Museum’s displays; a cast of the precious head, which is the only remaining soft tissue material of a Dodo in the world; and real foot bones from the same animal, representing some of the few organic pieces of Dodo remains.
This is your chance to #askthecurators about the dodo and the Tullie House star object it is coming to meet, the 1840 Portinscale Red Kite from Tullie’s Collections, one of the last of Cumbria’s indigenous red kites and oldest mounted bird specimen in our collection.
Either come along on Saturday morning from 10-11am (suitable for all, usual admission charges apply) or #askthecurators your questions about the Dodo or Red Kite to @tulliehouse on Twitter and Facebook.
As the dodo started out on its road trip, we asked it a few questions of our own…
So, tell me about yourself – who are you and where do you come from?
I’m the famous Oxford Dodo. I spent most of my life on the tropical island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Sailors arrived on the island in the late 16th century and everything changed. My life from then on is a bit of a blur, but somehow I appeared in Oxford around the 17th century and have been a museum treasure ever since.
What is it that makes you so special?
I’m a one off. Nowhere else in the world is there a Dodo with any flesh, but I’ve still got skin on my head and even a few little feathers, so scientists are fascinated by me. Dodo skeletons pop up in a few other museums, but it’s my skin that makes me really special. I was also used by scientists to explore Dodo DNA. Turns out I’m closely related to a pigeon! I’m literary too – I inspired Lewis Carroll’s Dodo character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Who looks after you in Oxford?
My guardian is none other than the Head of Life (Collections). Darren Mann looks after all of the Life collections in the Museum and makes sure I’m stored safely so I last another 350 years.
Do you remember life before the museum?
I know I haven’t always been in this building. In fact, 200 years before this Museum was built, I was on display at the Ashmolean Museum – the first public museum in Great Britain. I was lucky to survive with any skin left intact; back then visitors were allowed to touch me and some of them gave me some pretty rough treatment.
What does the future hold for you?
Who knows what scientists have lined up for me next? A few weeks ago I was taken up to the University of Warwick for a fancy new CT scan. Apparently they found out something pretty exciting, which they’ll be able to reveal soon. But right now, my head is out on display in the Museum’s Presenting… case near the entrance; so if you’re in Oxford before 19 July stop by and say hello!
It will be the dodo’s chance to ask our Red Kite these questions on Saturday – but what questions do you want to ask?
Every May there is a national programme of activities in museums, art galleries and heritage organisations called Museums at Night. Here at Tullie House we love to get involved and take the opportunity to try something different to attract those who wouldn’t ordinarily visit, and give those who do visit a new and exciting experience.
In 2013, Museums at Night fell during the changeover period in our large temporary exhibition space, and so ‘The Art Gallery Takeover’ was born. We transformed the space into a creative nightclub to show that the fun at Tullie House isn’t just for kids.
We had a great night and our most successful Museums at Night event up to that point. So when it came to thinking about Museums at Night 2014, the Art Gallery Takeover was an idea we wanted to run with once again. One problem … the weekend of events fell a couple of weeks too early and rather than being a huge empty space, the Art Gallery was home to our brilliant ‘Mechanical Circus’ exhibition.
Not to be put off by the presence of 5 circus tents, housing over 150 automata and historical science equipment, we worked with our exhibition partners, Museum Boerhaave and Cabaret Mechanical Circus to create activities and events which were mindful of the collections. Surrounded by cogs, gears and Victoriana there was only one way to go, and before we knew it ‘The Steampunk Circus’ was coming to Carlisle for one night only!
The Steampunk Circus spoke to a niche audience and was an ambitious idea, and like most museums, we do not have a huge budget for events. However, we as museums do have, creative, dedicated staff with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to create great events. So our family learning team manned craft tables heping people to ‘steampunk up’ their outfits.
Our Visitor Services Manager and Family Learning Officer teamed up to act as our Tiffin and Kettle Masters and oversee the tense and thrilling sport of Teaduelling!
Our Secondary Learning Officer teamed up with one of our freelance practitioners to deliver a lesson in Fancy Dress Life Drawing, which had been so popular in 2013, this time with a Steampunk Twist. They encouraged people to dress up and strike a pose, or for those less fond of the limelight try their hand at drawing – with some brilliant results!
There were so many other people involved who helped to make the night really special, not least our friends at Warwick Tower for bringing by some of their amazing stock, DJ Oldboy for providing the soundtrack, Astral Circus for entertaining and astounding and Chris Cook, our magician for the night.
A great night was had by all – starting to look forward to the next one all ready!
Keep an eye out at for events coming up here at Tullie and other museums and heritage venues on the weekend of the 14-16 May 2015!