Workshops on Sloane’s Treasures: A Plan for Reconstructing Sloane

Posted in museums, resources by Editor on June 14, 2012

I was lucky enough to attend the second workshop for the Sloane’s Treasures Project, held on 31 May at The British Museum, and I’m thrilled at the prospects of this massive research programme. The benefits will be enormous for a wide range of audiences. In addition to the following description from the BM’s website, see the advertisement for two collaborative doctoral awards. -CH

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Sloane’s Treasures
The Natural History Museum, The British Museum, The British Library, London, 2012

From the time of his voyage to Jamaica in the 1680s, Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), physician, natural historian and man of letters, began to gather together one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of ‘natural and artificial rarities’ ever formed. Sloane was later Physician to Queen Anne, George I and II, President of both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society, and his manor in Chelsea included the Apothecaries’ Garden (now the Chelsea Physic Garden). At the centre of a worldwide network, he created an encyclopaedic collection of mineral, botanical, and zoological specimens, ethnographic objects, antiquities, prints, drawings, books and manuscripts, often inheriting or purchasing entire collections formed by others.

On his death in 1753 Sloane’s collection was acquired for the nation by an Act of Parliament which created the British Museum. But as the Museum re-organized its collections and acquired further objects, Sloane’s collection was dispersed among different departments and eventually also to the Natural History Museum in 1881 and to the British Library in 1973. This dispersal has hindered the study and understanding of ‘Sloane’s Treasures’, their sources, and their historical relationships with each other. This project will begin to address these problems.

Between February and September 2012, an Advisory group will be formed, workshops with invited attendees will be held (Natural History Museum, April, British Museum, May and British Library, July) and reports created, including recommendations for a larger project. The constitution of the Advisory group, summaries and videos of parts of the workshops, and updates on their outcomes will be made available, and news of project developments, including information on other research and public events related to Sloane and his collections, will be published here. If you are working on a Hans Sloane-related project or have an associated research or public engagement idea, contact a member of the project team.

Project Team
• Kim Sloan, Curator of British Drawings and Watercolours before 1880, The British Library, Department of Prints and drawings
• JD Hill, Research Manager
• Arnold Hunt, Curator of Modern Historical Manuscripts, The British Library
• Julie Harvey, Manager, Centre for Arts and Humanities Research, The Natural History Museum

Collaborative Doctoral Awards | Reconstructing Sloane

Posted in graduate students, resources by Editor on June 14, 2012

Collaborative Doctoral Award Studentships: Reconstructing Sloane
Applications due 29 June 2012; must be available for interview on 19 July 2012

Applications are invited for two Collaborative Doctoral Award studentships, available under the rubric Reconnecting Sloane: Texts, Images, Objects, to commence in Autumn 2012. The first CDA will be at King’s College London/The British Library and will focus on the correspondence (i.e. ‘texts’) of Sir Hans Sloane. The second will be at Queen Mary University London/The Natural History Museum and will focus on Sloane’s vegetable substances (i.e. ‘objects’). A third has already been awarded and will be at King’s College London/The British Museum and will focus on Sloane’s natural history drawings (i.e. ‘images’).

Together the CDAs will explore and develop our understanding of Sir Hans Sloane and his contribution to eighteenth-century intellectual life through his activities as a physician, collector, natural philosopher and man of letters. The Research Programme aims to examine the role of a major early Enlightenment collection, and its collector, in the making of knowledge about nature. Sir Hans Sloane’s (1660-1753) extensive collection of texts (in print and manuscript), images (paintings, drawings and prints) and objects (including specimens and herbaria) formed the founding collection of the British Museum (BM) in 1753, but was subsequently dispersed, primarily to the British Library (BL) and the Natural History Museum (NHM). For Sloane and his contemporaries, the collection would have been understood as a whole, and its uses would have involved working between texts, images and objects. The programme’s three linked studentships – each of which will be conducted with the partner organization that now holds the part of Sloane’s collection that will be studied – will aim to ‘Reconnect Sloane’ by examining the making and use of this collection in terms of the specific material within it – texts, images and objects – and also the connections between materials. Working across the separate collections in the way this will provide new insight into Sloane’s role in the making of natural knowledge.

The deadline for applications is 29th June, and you must be available for interview on 19th July. For more information on how to apply, please see the attached documents included below. Please note, the AHRC has strict residential eligibility criteria governing the students that can be nominated for this award. If you are not a British citizen and/or not usually resident in the UK (and have not been for the past three years), please check your eligibility and discuss this with the project supervisors so that your eligibility can be determined.

Additional information is available here and here.

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