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Here is a conversation between two objects. A stuffed kiwi and a kahu-kiwi ceremonial cloak.

Kiwi cloak

Just a reminder that between 6 and 8pm today (Monday 20th July) you will have a chance to engage in a live debate about this project at the Manchester Museum.
If you are too far away to come to the Museum you can participate on the blog. Please write your comments after this post.
From 6-7pm I will be meditating silently on bodily sensations. You are welcome to join me on the webcam.
After that I will be meditating on sound – which is so difficult to hold in a museum, disappearing as soon as it has appeared, but which is our main mode of communication and the sea which bathes us all.
I will then try to respond verbally to some of the comments made here.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Phil Manning permalink
    20/07/2009 6:15 pm

    Extinction is an inevitable part of evolution. One can’t exist without the other. Panda’s are useless organisms that deserve to become extinct.

  2. Mathew Cobb permalink
    20/07/2009 6:25 pm

    We need to prevent extinctions because we need to maintain our environment in a good condition as a place where we can live and we need healthy ecosystems to ensure this happens.

  3. Nick Merriman permalink
    20/07/2009 6:40 pm

    We need to free ourselves from the legacy of the past whilst still being responsible. It’s always easier to leave things as they are. We need to collect for the future without being held back by the past.

  4. David Gelsthorpe permalink*
    20/07/2009 6:44 pm

    Phil Manning

    We cannot second guess science.

    Mathew Cobb

    Museums used to throw things out that would be really usful now.

    Nick Merriman

    Sustainability: do we have a sustainable future for museums. Are we in a position to collect now?

    Mathew Cobb

    What would we collect? Should we collect things that are about to become extint? Should we collect ephemera?

    Nick Merriman

    Should we be collecting things that record change, should we be going back to places we have collected at before?

  5. Tom Stephenson permalink
    20/07/2009 6:51 pm

    I think a lot of provincial museums have larger archives than they have the space to exhibit, then it’s down to the curators to decide what goes on show. I know there are collections of arcane things that may never see the light of day.

    I really hope they haven’t messed up the Pitt-Rivers in Oxford for that reason – one of the last of the old fashioned museums, before the interactive, hands-on obsession took hold.

  6. Tom Stephenson permalink
    20/07/2009 6:52 pm

    P.S. – The Soanes in Lincolns Inn Fields is such a great place….

  7. David Gelsthorpe permalink*
    20/07/2009 6:53 pm


    Collections of old papers can tell us things we would otherwise not know.

    Visitor Amanda
    Isle of Thanet’s museums have closed down. No oney to pay for museums. Relationship between the museum and the cmmunity: keep things because they are data collections. The issues are actually musch larger than data collections. Objects are the mediators between huans and knowledge. People in Ramsgate possibly don’t care.

    Nick Merriman:

    Cul;ture has been seen as a way to regenerate Thanet. The problem is that these sorts of systematic collections are not usually part of this.

    Visitor Kate Matherson

    It is really important that people can see the behind the scenes, muesums should show people what they have got.

    Matthew Cobb

    Not enought things come out. Greta for children if they can go behind the scenes, he remembers visits as a child.


    Only talking about things that seem interesting. He does tours around the herbarum and nobody turns up as the botany seems boring!

    We get people in the museum when we call it harry potter day!

    We only found we had the darwin moss a few months ago, he thinks there are more, but we don’y have the resources to find all these things. We have too much stuff.

  8. David Gelsthorpe permalink*
    20/07/2009 7:05 pm


    ‘Curator’ would imply caring and understanding. Museums have gone the way of music halls should we be modelling museums on new models of how people view the world. Pehapse we are 100 years out of date?

    Nick Merriman

    Museums have evolved and are in at least as good a state as in their hey day. Liesure time now increased. Museums have engaged with the public much more than they ever did before. Museums are not irrelevant.


    Opera should not exist, we are paying for it as we never did before. Visitors come in for free.

    Phil Manning

    Collections have value, people benfit from learining from he collections. Collections are the blue print of the museum, not what we do with the public. If we forget what is at the core of the museum, we stop being what we are. If we lose it we lose it forever.


    Museums are trying to offlead things.


    People feel it is odd we have these big collections that are not used. It touches some deep human need to know that they exist. It doesn’t matter what these collections are, but just that they exist.

    Mathew Cobb,

    Functional aspect of museums. Need to appeal to lots of levls to satisty public education. We need behind the scenes collectiosn to deliver this.

  9. 20/07/2009 7:38 pm

    Where does music fit in to bridge the gap between reality and expectations, esp. wrt your hermitage.

    • 23/07/2009 12:21 pm

      I’m not sure that it fits into a gap between ‘reality and expectations’ but I have an idea of where it fits into a hermitage.
      Someone in an earlier comment said that if prayer is talking to god, meditation is listening. I liked that. I could spend a lot of time listening. But it’s also good to be part of a community and share our perceptions. Music is simply communicating about life. The more fully the beauty of the world is expressed, the more like music it sounds.

  10. 20/07/2009 7:41 pm

    Just to firm it up, do we really need something more tangible to bridge the gap? At a conceptual level?


  11. 20/07/2009 7:51 pm

    I was hearing you speak of “letting it go”.. just curious to understand if there’s something really “letting it go”.. an object (if it is one) might not exist physically (assuming you’ve sacrificed) however what remains along is the philosophy, the memories and its influences on the entire persona…the thought process.

    Does one become a true hermit (one who;s let away everything) when traces of the “object” continues to live, breathe within ones system?


    • 23/07/2009 12:10 pm

      The drowning man clutches at straws.
      The peaceful man finds that straws float along around him.

  12. David Gelsthorpe permalink*
    20/07/2009 7:54 pm

    Phil Manning: We have a wealth of information in museum objects. We dont’ need fancy technology.

    Nick Merriman: Let’s look outside museums. Let’s look at the environment and conservation issues. Do museums’ salve our conscience. Are we playing our violin as Rome burns.

    Visitor: We use museum and the collection to know more about world.

    Phil Manning: We can use the collections for all sorts of things. Phil tries to persuade his students to work on the collections. We need to make the collections relevant to university research.

    Mathew Cobb: My students come over and look and touch the specimens. The look and touch a specimen of a duck billed platypus. It has a leathery beak – not like a duck’s. It’s a great privilege to be able to touch a specimen.

    Visitor: It’s best to interact with something physically rather than just and seeing and hearing.

    Mathew Cobb: On the day of the lunar landing my Dad ate three shredded wheat and I was more impressed with that than the lunar landing. However, a few weeks later I say the moon rock exhibition at Manchester Museum and it was great.

    Mathew Cobb: Has changed his opinion regarding display of mummies. He would like the museum to ask more questions like that to question what the museum has.

    • Matthew Cobb permalink
      20/07/2009 9:12 pm

      Given its the 40th anniversary of the moonlanding, I’d like to make it clear that, aged 12, I *was* mightily impressed by Amstrong, Aldrin and Collins’ exploits. I was *also* impressed that my Uncle Brian ate 3 Weetabix when we were up watching it in the middle of the night.

  13. Bodger permalink
    21/07/2009 2:59 pm

    “Panda’s are useless organisms that deserve to become extinct.”

    Deserve? Deserve?!

  14. 27/07/2009 1:05 pm

    The kiwi feather cloak, which was made in the 19th century, was originally displayed in the old Explorers and Encounters gallery with a photo of Maori women wearing similar cloaks. Kiwi feather cloaks were worn to keep the rain off the wearer. Before that it was displayed in Aotearoa : The Maori collections at Manchester Museum in 1990, an exhibition on Manchester Museum’s Maori collections, which was opened with a Maori blessing at dawn in July 1990 performed by Ngati Ranana (the London Maori Cultural Club). Later on the day of the blessing the New Zealand High Commissioner conducted a formal opening at which some Maoris sang in his support. Ngati Ranana closed the exhibition in November.

  15. 28/07/2009 7:10 pm

    Awesome and quite touching combo! Please, do display it in the museum like this!

  16. Henry McGhie permalink
    28/09/2009 9:56 am

    The Collections Development Panel, along with the director and the artist, discussed the Kiwi and cloak at a meeting on 3rd September.

    The blog responses and discussion were summarised as:
    “Main responses were around the suggestion to display them together as a way of discussing the decline of animals and animal resources. The Museum entrance would not be possible as the light levels are too great for this type of material.”

    The group suggested that the cloak and bird could be displayed in a new gallery currently under development.

    The decision was to retain both items.

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