Saturday 29 October 2011

Museum Shop Items

Yesterday, Paul and I went into London to see the "Private Eye: The First 50 Years" exhibition at the V&A Museum, followed by the "Wildlife Photographer of the Year" and "After Hours" at the Natural History Museum. All were excellent, of course.


Being an advocate of avoiding stereotypes, especially for younger children, I was distinctly unimpressed to see this in the V&A gift shop:

The "Good Things for Girls" pack contains a skipping rope, colouring pencils and a knitting doll. The "Good Things for Boys" pack contains dominoes, juggling balls and a boat. Now, to my mind, there is no reason why boys can't enjoy skipping, colouring and knitting, nor why girls wouldn't appreciate dominoes, juggling or sailing a toy boat. However, they have been neatly packaged into the "traditional" roles.

I do bang on about this, but I have real trouble with an organisation that advocates itself as an academic institution (there are strict eligibility criteria for the use of the domain), which happily sells items that do not promote equality of opportunity for all children.

On a different note, there were no gender issues at the NHM, but there was a nice bit of taxonomy-fail:

Echinoids being confused for trilobites? Crinoids being confused for ferns? I think someone had a long day.

As an aside, we saw the newly-refurbished dinosaur gallery at the NHM. It's still dark, still dingy, still impossible to take a photo of an entire skeleton, still utterly inferior to pretty much every single dinosaur hall I have ever seen at a museum (I'm sure someone made a point about this a few weeks ago but I can't find the blog post to credit them). I don't know what they did in the refurb - there were a couple of new panels, and a bit of new CGI. The science is still mostly good, but bland and uncontroversial enough that it's good for a few more decades I suppose (!). It wouldn't even need so much high-tech stuff - just specimens, clean, well-lit, accurately mounted, with information about them. Or is that not enough of a money-spinner these days?


  1. A while ago out at Tring (attached to the NHM for those who don't know) I spotted a series of little cards for sale on the various healing / personality properties of the birthstones. I got this sent up the chain of command at the museum and was told they were quickly removed from sale. As I understand, the shops there are run by a separate company / group within the museum. So there's no guarantee that anyone with any science had anything to do with the stuff for sale or displays and the staff may not know. A quiet word to the shop or one of the palaeo staff might get that corrected.

  2. Retail is a separate division within "Business & Commercial". So nothing to do with science I'm afraid. Glad to see that the healing properties thing on the stones got dealt with- there were similar things on their bracelets too. Some of the retail staff have got palaeo experience (and vice-versa actually).

    As for the Dinosaur hall basically its had a thorough clean and the old panels that needed replacing have been replaced. And that's about it. I don't know when they'll be redoing the gallery, next on the list is the Central Hall and Tree Gallery. I still want to know when they'll be putting all the centre cases back in Marine Invertebrates. I miss the spoon-worms.


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