Abbey Museum Medieval Manuscript

Medieval Manuscript Gallery Reopens

Medieval Manuscript Gallery

After more than 18 months, the Abbey Museum’s fabulous Medieval Manuscript Gallery has reopened!

You may recall that in late 2015, termites were discovered in the gallery – almost the worst possible scenario!  Fortunately, the little chompers had stuck to the timber and left the priceless manuscripts alone.  Our beloved manuscript gallery had to close and all the manuscripts and cases were removed before treatment could commence. It has been a long slow process but with funding assistance from the Federal Government through the Stronger Communities Programme and the Moreton Bay Regional Council we have been able to achieve our goal and reopen the gallery. And now we are so pleased to be able to announce the re-opening!

History never ceases to amaze!

During the closure of the Manuscript Gallery the Museum’s Senior Curator, Michael Strong, took the opportunity to photograph all the manuscripts. The timing was perfect as there has been a sudden increase in interest in the manuscripts from international researchers and we have now been able to send them quality colour photos. One thrilling …

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Pilgrim Badge Abbey Museum

Medieval Pilgrim Badge Donation Excitement

The Abbey Museum recently received a generous donation of a 14th century Pilgrim Badge of St Thomas Becket. A pilgrim badge, like the suit of armour also acquired this year, has been on the Museum’s wish list for a number of years as they represent an aspect of medieval life not previously represented in the collection.

Pilgrim Badge – Tourist Souvenir of the Middle Ages?

Pilgrimages were an important part of life in medieval England, and individuals were expected to make at least one major journey in their lifetime. Market stalls often lined the entrances to shrines, and here pilgrims could buy a variety of souvenirs such as badges and small vessels known as ampulae. This badge is in the form of St Thomas Becket and is one of a well-known series of badges that are miniature copies of the 14th century, life-sized, mitre-bust reliquary of St Thomas in Canterbury Cathedral. The badge would have been worn on the hat or outer clothing and would have been used as an amulet. The supposed miracle-working powers of the reliquaries that …

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Schist panel depicting 20 Buddhas, Afghanistan

Collection Donations : Gifts of Ancient Treasures

With the advent of on-line sale websites such as Ebay and Gum Tree, and difficult financial times in general, collection donations of antiquities to the Abbey Museum had all but dried up.

However, excitingly, 2016 seemed to buck the trend and over the last few months the Museum has received donations of three amazing collections.

The First of the Collection Donations

The first included a beautiful slate plaque from Afghanistan depicting twenty Buddhas, a number of alabaster statues and a beautiful carved onyx plate of kissing birds and a kufic script.

The Second of unexpected Collection Donations

Then can you imagine the excitement of being invited into a house and being taken down into a cellar where almost hidden under the dust on a shelf on the back wall was a collection of ancient Roman lamps (one with a decorated image to make you blush, definitely R rated). Beautiful Roman glass and three “stone cannon” balls from Tunisia. This was part of the private collection of a Dutch consul who during his career travelled to many parts of the world.

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Hidden Treasure Trove

In the back of a dark cupboard in the Abbey Museum storage area sit a few items of hidden treasure with signs saying DO NOT LIST. These items have been there for a very long time. Why you may ask?  Well it is because their provenance is unknown or attempts in the past to identify their origins had been unsuccessful. Enter the internet revolution with its ability to access to an enormous wealth of knowledge and the games has changed. The Abbey Museum Senior Curator, Michael Strong, asked if I would take on the challenge to try to find out something about  our hidden treasures. Being more than a little obsessive, I tend to like this type of challenge.

When I start researching an object that we know very little about I start by looking for pictorial comparisons. Sometimes very few comparison can be found, as with two lovely glazed ceramic tiles with fruit that i have been researching lately. However at other times luck (or skill) is on our side and exciting discoveries are made. We are pleased to …

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Stained glass windows conservation – a staff excursion.

Earlier this month, a convoy of cars with Abbey staff made its way to visit our most recent stained glass windows conservation project at the Master Craftsman’s workshop in Buderim. Stained glass artists, Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn, have been our conservators of choice for over ten years. Their original artworks can be found in many Australian churches and buildings as well as examples of their conservation projects.

We were welcomed at the door with huge grins of delight. Greetings over, we made our way into their workshop. This is a remarkable large room filled with long light boxes set in rows and forming aisles between. On those boxes lay stained glass windows at various stages of development or repair.

Creating a Stained Glass window

Gerry took us through the wonders of creating a stained glass window. It is always an intense pleasure to watch someone who seriously knows what they are doing, making it all look so very easy. The creation of any artwork begins with an idea. The application of pencil to paper is the first step …

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Caddles light up a night of Trivia at the Abbey

Trivia at the Abbey

It was a dark and stormy night with lightning flashing, thunder grumbling and rain pelting down, but …it was the advertised night for the famous event Trivia at the Abbey and not even the wrath of mother nature could stop the show.

Trivia Question: who stole the Light??

Come preparation time we discovered there was no power anywhere around the Abbey – Museum, Church, Hall or Community. Ever resourceful, our Museum CEO suggested using the candles and candelabra from the annual medieval banquets – hooray, lights for each table. Five teams of intrepid trivia buffs had to search even harder to find answers to questions covering a wide range of topics; this was made more difficult by the loudness of the rain pelting on the roof and the softness of the questioner’s voice.

It was encouraging to have some new faces join the fun; hopefully they were not put off by the medieval style and will return for our next 21st century style event. Despite all the obstacles everyone enjoyed the night and we made another addition to the fund …

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Detail of Cypriot Amphora, Abbey Museum, www.abbeymuseum.com.au

Cyprus: A Little Island with a Big History

If you visit the RD Milns Antiquities Museum at the University of Queensland campus at St Lucia from 4th June you will see a fascinating new exhibition which is about to open. Cyprus: An Island and A People investigates the complex and fascinating history of Cyprus in the ancient world and the role of archaeology in the making of modern Cyprus. This exhibition looks at the amazing story of Cyprus, a small but strategic island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Spanning over 10,000 years of history, the exhibition traces Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Medieval period through a range of spectacular objects.  The exhibition also explores the people of ancient and modern Cyprus and the roles played by archaeologists in shaping the island’s story.

The Abbey Museum has loaned a number of significant artefacts to the RD Milns Antiquities Museum. They include a large and very impressive White Painted amphora, dating to around 750 BC, exquisite Roman glassware, an early 15th century icon representing the Presentation of Christ in the …

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detail of a statue of Napoleon www.abbeymuseum.com.au

Napoleon’s Waterloo

This year marks significant anniversaries of past wars. April 25th saw many thousands of Australians rising early in the morning to attend services across the country to remember the many Diggers who lost their lives a hundred years ago at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. No doubt throughout the coming year other events and exhibitions will continue to remind us of the significance and drama of the final year of the First World War.

2015 also marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo – the world changing event that saw Napoleon Bonaparte defeated at last by the Duke of Wellington. In June this year many Napoleonic re-enactors are heading to France to take part in a re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo and the final downfall of France’s Emperor Napoleon.

On the first of May the Pine Rivers Heritage Museum – Old Petrie Town open a new exhibition entitled Napoleon’s Last GambleThis exhibition commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. This fascinating display …

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Fashion plate of 1807 April London Dress Detail from the Abbey Museum Collection

Fashion Plates and the “Women’s Weekly” of the 1800’s

Fashion Plates one of the Abbey Museum’s Hidden Treasures

At the Abbey Museum we have recently started moving our reserve collection into a new storage facility. As part of this much needed process we are also undertaking conservation and storage needs assessment of each object. This might sound like a long and boring exercise. At times it is indeed laborious, but at other times it can be very exciting. I get to see and work with some of the amazing artefacts that are not currently on display. My latest task was to go through and check the catalogue numbers on a series of historical fashion plates.

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Abbey Museum mystery Lion Sculpure detail

A Mystery Lion Sculpture – Calling all Super History Sleuths for help?

What Am I? Identify a mystery Lion Sculpture and win a family pass to the Medieval Festival

Like many museums, the Abbey Museum has a number of interesting and somewhat quirky artefacts that have never been identified. One of these is an amazing lifelike sculpture, probably of a lion. The lion sculpture was catalogued as a medieval aquamanile, by JSM Ward, who first acquired it for the Abbey Folk Park, New Barnet, England back in the 1930s, reputedly from London. If you are not familiar with the term, an aquamanile is a water container or ewer, frequently in the form of a mammal or bird and used in medieval times at table for washing hands, a most necessary courtesy before eating. However, our senior curator is certain it is not an aquamanile, as it is slipware painted and would not hold water. Because of its shape, Ward mistakenly thought it was an aquamanile which has a similar shape.

So for the Collection Management Team the big questions are:

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