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UCL and the World of Knowledge

The amazing artefacts, beautiful artworks and unique manuscripts displayed here represent some of the profound contributions to the arts, humanities and sciences made by UCL staff and students, benefactors and individuals associated with UCL, from 1828 to today.

This exhibition has been designed to complement and expand the first exhibition to be launched in the new Display Case installed on the Main Library staircase as part of the recent Wilkins Building refurbishment. Space restrictions meant that not as many objects could be displayed nor as much informative text given as we would have liked. There are four themes represented for the viewer to explore.

Click on image to select:

CultureInnovationInspirationOutreach

UCL’s Museums, Art Collections and Library Special Collections house a wide array of cultural and scientific artefacts which provide unique insights into the natural world and humanity’s development and achievements.

Henry Clark Barlow, Jeremy Bentham, Raymond Wilson Chambers, John Flaxman, Ambrose Fleming, Francis Galton, Robert Grant, John Thomas Graves, Joseph Hume, Henry Johnston-Lavis, Edwin Lankester, Flinders Petrie, Peter Medawar, Frederic Mocatta, Karl Pearson, William Ramsay, William Sharpey, Grafton Elliot Smith, Whitley Stokes

......are just some of the famous names who have contributed to UCL’s reputation as a world leader in the arts, humanities and sciences, and whose collections and donations serve to inspire, enlighten and inform.

Link to further information about the new exhibition space and staircase

View of the new entrance to Library Services, looking upwards to the exhibition case and the first floor.

Further information about the new exhibition space and staircase.



Culture

The first English university to accept students irrespective of race or religion and to admit women on equal terms with men, UCL has a long tradition of embracing cultural diversity. Its community continues to thrive on the interaction of varied perspectives and experiences. In the 21st Century UCL aims to nurture truly global citizens, with an understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures and interdisciplinarity that form the basis of global culture.

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Ceramic figurine from Teotihiacan, Mexico, 200 BC to AD 200. These appear to have been ritual objects associated with the household. Institute of Archaeology Steatite Seal, Indus Valley Civilisation, Pakistan, 2500-2000 BC, impressions of seals (sealings) were made on ceramics and used to seal bundles of trade goods. Institute of Archaeology Neo-classical sculpture by John Flaxman. Flaxman was known throughout Europe for his innovative drawing style and for his sculptures. UCL Art Collections
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Cypriot geometric vessel. Cyprus. 1050 BCE - 750 BCE. Institute of Archaeology Portrait of a woman from Hawara (third or fourth century AD). Petrie Museum Mask, wood. Mende, Sierra Leone, West Africa, c.1850-1940. Ethnographic Collection, Institute of Archaeology
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Ceramic figurine from Teotihiacan, Mexico, 200 BC to AD 200. These appear to have been ritual objects associated with the household. Institute of Archaeology Multicoloured glass inlay from Egypt, Ptolemaic period, 100 BC to AD 100 (UCL 1703). Institute of Archaeology Ceramic cup, Late Minoan IB style, ca. 1500-1450 BC . Possibly made at Knossos in Crete. Institute of Archaeology
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Campi Phlegraei, 1776, William Hamilton. From the Johnston Lavis Collection. Library Special Collections Greco/Roman earrings, metal. Found in Egypt 200 BCE - 100 AD. Institute of Archaeology
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Mask, wood. Inuit, North America, c.1850-1940. Ethnographic Collection, Institute of Archaeology Attic white ground lekythos, mid 5th century BC; this was a funerary vessel  from Ancient Greece containing perfumed oils. Institute of Archaeology The Slade School picnic, c.1912. showing many students who later became famous, notably: Stanley Spencer and Isaac Rosenberg. Library Special Collections
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  Flint dagger, late Neolithic to early Bronze Age, 2200 - 2000 BC. Imitating a copper form, it would originally have had a copper haft. Institute of Archaeology  

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Innovation

Innovations at UCL have been numerous, diverse and significant; they have included advances in communications such as the telephone and wireless telegraphy, and the first transatlantic connection of the precursor of the internet. Biomedical breakthroughs at UCL include the initial identification of hormones and vitamins, and the first antiseptic treatment of wounds.

Radio and modern electronics were made possible through the invention of the thermionic valve at UCL, while the discovery of the inert gases, including neon, resulted in the first of 19 Nobel Prizes so far earned by our staff and graduates. Today, UCL is London's research and teaching powerhouse, engaged with partners around the world. Our staff address the world’s problems through the application of their research, spanning the sciences, arts, social sciences and biomedicine. We have an ambitious agenda to ensure that our students are capable of helping those in need around the world, and to provide an education that ensures that our students become lifelong global citizens.

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The thermionic valve as invented by Sir Ambrose Fleming at UCL. It is regarded as one of the most important inventions of the twentieth century. Electronic & Electrical Engineering Collection Francis Galton's finger-prints, as appearing on the title page of the pioneering book on the subject he published in 1892. Library Special Collections The first X-ray photographs used in Britain for Clinical purposes. Taken by J. Norman Collie in 1896 and preserved in UCL's Chemistry Department.
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Sir Francis Galton's composite photographs of 'criminals', circa 1880. Library Special Collections Sir Flinders Petrie, FRS, FBA, photographed in 1921 with exhibits in UCL's remarkable Egyptological collection which he built up. Robert Carswell's watercolour drawing of the brain, published in 1838. Library Special Collections
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Sketch of the endless staircase, 1962, by Lionel Penrose, Professor of Human Genetics, 1945-65. Library Special Collections The first image of an amputation in a printed work, from Gersdorff's handbook on military surgery, 1530. Library Special Collections Marie Stopes, UCL lecturer in Palaeobotany, 1911. Author of the notorious Married Love, published in 1918.

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Inspiration

The quality and range of UCL’s collections are internationally recognised and excellent collections-based teaching, learning and research has inspired staff and students for over 175 years. Artefacts, manuscripts, artworks and specimens play a vital formal role in hundreds of undergraduate and postgraduate course units, impacting thousands of students annually. Collections are also used by the public, including scholars, local community groups and schools, and other visitors.

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George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, dust jacket of the first American edition, 1933. Library Special Collections 15th century Italian Book of Hours written by a Venetian scribe, with modern insertions. c.1470-80, 1800-1900. Library Special Collections Sermons of Pope Leo I (the Great), with illuminated opening page, printed in Rome. 1470-71. Library Special Collections
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Chimpanzee skeleton. Grant Museum of Zoology Stuffed Weasel. Grant Museum of Zoology Selection of Bees. Grant Museum of Zoology
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Fluorite, Geology Collections Ammonite. Geology Collections Hematite, Geology Collections
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Latin Herbal, with hand coloured woodcuts, printed in Passau. 1485. Library Special Collections Laurence Housman's Illustrated alphabet on women's suffrage, in the colours of the Women's Social & Political Union. Library Special Collections George Orwell's National Union of Journalists card. 1947/48. Library Special Collections
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Stuffed hawksbill turtle. Confiscated at customs and donated to the Grant Museum of Zoology Allied propaganda postcards from a collection of six based on Aesop's fables. c.1914-18. Library Special Collections
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  Multicoloured glass inlay from Egypt, Ptolemaic period, 100 BC to AD 100 (UCL 1703). Institute of Archaeology  

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Outreach

Institute of Archaeology's Ancient Greek 'Loan Box' UCL has a long tradition of learning through direct interaction with objects and the collections are now used to help widen participation in higher education through raising aspirations and engaging school students from all over London and beyond.  The collections are used with schools and community groups, from Nursery pupils through to postgraduate students, special interest groups and families.

Our outreach work with the collections provides thousands of children and young people with a rare opportunity to handle artefacts, increasing their learning experiences through hands-on investigations.  We visit schools and colleges with our loan boxes, run workshops onsite at the university and hold special projects such as week-long summer schools and family fun days.

Right and below: visitors from local schools and colleges, learning through UCL's collections Visitors from local schools and colleges
Visitors from local schools and colleges

For further information visit:

UCL Museums & Collections or email: curator@ucl.ac.uk
UCL Library Special Collections or email: spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk

If you would like to leave any feedback regarding this exhibition, or enquire about future exhibitions, please email Special Collections: spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk

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Last modified 15 May 2006

 
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