Visitors to the Abbey Museum may have noticed a stained glass window that was once above the main door has been removed. I can assure you that this is not permanent but just part of the ongoing conservation program of our stained glass windows. This panel depicts a crowned figure holding a covered cup in one hand and a sceptre in the other. These attributes indicate that it is a king although the identity of the figure was unknown; the catalogue simply records it as “The Donor King” . However, during conservation of the window new evidence has come to light which is very exciting. Research has revealed that it was probably part of a much larger window depicting the three Magi (the Three Wise Men or Kings as they are also known) from the Biblical story of the Nativity of Christ. The window has been badly damaged and conserved a number of times during its history, and sadly the quality of the later work does no justice to the exquisite quality of the original window. Not only is …
An Unusual Object in our Collection – The Roman Balance
One of the latest additions to our ever-growing collection is an unusual-looking metal device that one has to wonder about. Mind boggling – yes, but in fact this implement has a very practical application. Then, what does it do? What we have here is a Roman Steelyard, or Roman Balance, dated between the late 2nd and 5th centuries. Although it looks like some sort of torture device, it had a very useful and celebrated function; namely for weighing trade goods.
“Is it some sort of torture device?” – Museum Staff Member.
You might now ask how people used this object. Our balance is made of iron and features two lead weights that hang from iron bars. The balance would hang from the ceiling by the upper hook and trade goods suspended by the hooks. The large weight would slide up and down the balance bar until the bar became horizontal. The weight would be calculated by how far the weight was across the bar. Chiselled into the bar at …
Invited guests – donors who had supported the program – gathered in the Abbey Church in early December to help celebrate the conclusion of a ten year project of conservation of the stained glass windows in the Church.
Stained Glass Thank You
Director of the Abbey Museum, Edith Cuffe OAM, explained the obstacles which had to be overcome in order for the conservation project to be undertaken, not least of which was the substantial fundraising effort required. The presentation was a ‘thank-you’ and acknowledgement of those who donated or assisted in other ways to raise the funds necessary for the conservation work to take place. Edith introduced guests to Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn, the conservators who undertook this mammoth task.
Conservator’s stained glass presentation
Gerry’s presentation included a power-point showing before and after photographs of each window as it was subject to the conservator’s attention. He told how the removal of some windows was made very difficult because of the age of the glass and fragility of the …
The arrival of the Black Rider
In mid-2016, the Abbey Museum finally fulfilled a long-held dream to acquire a complete medieval suit of armour to complement the existing stories of the Abbey collection of medieval artefacts. With the support of the Abbey Museum Friends and a private donor a 16th century composite suit of breath-taking and awe-inspiring armour was purchased, painstakingly restored and finally put on display in late 2017. Dubbed the Black Rider, after the original German Schwartz Reiter, this medieval piece of history has become one of the most popular objects in the Museum’s collection.
Respect to the Black Rider
When you first see the Black Rider, you experience a moment of silence, while your eyes take it all in. One of the most noticeable things about this suit of armour is the extensive damage to parts of the helmet and arms; this is original damage left during its time in the field (the battle field that is!). This observation indeed merits slow contemplation. Who wore this suit and what happened?
The most striking and obvious damage to …
These are a few of our favourite things
By Jan Nargar
Most of us know that the Abbey Museum has some special items in their collection – but what do you really know about it and do you have a favourite thing?
Have you ever walked through the museum and a special object has caught your eye? What was it? Where did it come from? What story does it have to tell? As staff, it happens to us all the time! Not to mention the Collection Management Team that meets regularly to research and catalogue the Museum’s artefacts – there has been lots of discusion about favourite objects. Each member of the team has particular favourites. Having so many incredible artefacts in the collection we are spoiled for choice. So, listed below are a few of our our favourite things!
Guess whose favourite thing?
A tiny Chinese snuff bottle with a painting on the inside! Truly! A beautiful painting of a crane in a landscape scene delicately painted inside the bottle. It is in Museum Case 26. How was that …
Trivia at the Abbey Museum – it’s here to stay!
Trivia Night at the Abbey Museum has been held regularly for a few years and historically we have always had similar numbers of players attend. Now, our reputation for providing an entertaining evening and fantastic supper has reached a wider audience, making our recent November trivia night the most successful to date! And did we have fun?!
Need more chairs!
It was fantastic to see so many tickets purchased online and twenty-one adults and seven children took advantage of this, so we arranged a couple of tables additional to our usual number to accommodate them. This was great, however we were in for a surprise and did not anticipate the large number of people who paid at the door. In fact, we had to find extra tables and chairs to seat them. What a great problem to have!
On the night there were thirteen teams (over seventy people) vying for Trivia supremacy. Competition and rivalry was keen, and nobody wanted to be outdone! Fortunately there was plenty of supper …
A standing room only audience accepted the invitation to hear Professor Wayne Horowitz speak on the lost Jewish communities in ancient Babylonia on Tuesday 19 September . Professor Horowitz is a Professor of Assyriology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was here working on the Cuneiform Project Australia and New Zealand. This project aims to identify and publish all the cuneiform artefacts in Australian and New Zealand collections. Dr Horowitz has been examining 10 such objects in the Abbey Museum’s Middle East collection.
In his presentation Professor Horowitz spoke of the commencement of the Jewish Diaspora when the population was transported to Babylonia following the sacking of Jerusalem. The Jewish people spent 2500 years in exile in Babylonia. His colleague and research assistant, Peter Zilberg, completed the evening with his talk titled “Ezekiel and the Grand Canal of Babylon”. Mr Zilberg explained how information gleaned from cuneiform tablets have added to our knowledge of the Jewish nation in captivity. In an enthusiastic and energetic presentation he showed how seemingly mundane items recorded on cuneiform tablets tied in to biblical …
There was great excitement in the Abbey Museum office last week; in fact, it felt a little like Christmas, as the Director unwrapped a group of medieval artefacts that had been donated to the Museum. We always endeavour to grow the medieval collections because of the association with the very popular Abbey Medieval Festival which tells one of the stories of this museum.
The first object to be revealed was a small but deadly collection of nine iron medieval arrow heads. They possibly come from Scandinavia as most are tanged, a form which was more common in northern Europe than Britain, and date to the 9th to 11th centuries.
The second object to be unwrapped was a very small but delightful pilgrim’s badge of a fighting cock. The bronze badge is in the shape of a running cockerel with textures detail to the body, wings and comb, spurs to the rear of the feet and dates to the 13 – 14th century. It is said that cockfighting was originally introduced into Britain by the Romans. It was …
The Reed Stylus and Clay Tablet
From clay tablets to digital tablets. Today texting, typing, writing, memes, … there are so many ways in which we communicate with others; technology has opened a veritable Pandora’s box of possibilities. Communications have become shorter and more frequent, full of the expectation of an immediate response. The result is our modern world seems to travel at break-neck speed. It is hard to imagine what it was like at the beginning of recorded time when humankind first put pen to paper… well, actually not paper — or pen for that matter — but a reed stylus to clay tablet.
Clay Tablet with Cuneiform
As you may be aware, one of the earliest forms of writing is called Cuneiform. Cuneiform is thought to have been first developed by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia c 3500 – 3000 BC. Mesopotamian scribes recorded everything from daily events such as trade records and sales dockets to astronomical happenings and political events. I was surprised to learn that some tablets inscribed with cuneiform were written in several different languages …
Some of our favourite things!
Ever walked through the Museum and a special object has caught your eye? It happens with us too! The Collection Management Team meets regularly to research and catalogue the Museum’s artefacts. Each member of the team has particular favourites. Having so many incredible artefacts in the collection we are spoilt for choice, however, here are a few of our favourite things…
Museum Director, Edith Cuffe, likes the Chinese snuff bottle with an ‘inside painting’ of a crane in a landscape scene. It is in Museum Case 26. How did the artist manage to paint all that on the inside of such a small bottle?!
Also in Museum Case 26 is one of Michael Strong’s favourites, a Tang tomb model of a female flute player. Michael isn’t the only one for whom this is a favourite. Denise Crawley, who coordinates the shop, is also a fan of the lady with the flute.
Our team’s favourites!
Anne Bradley has spent countless hours investigating our collection of 43 jetons. When she needs a break from them she …