Looking closely at things

Our shipping gallery has been closed for a few weeks (for maintenance work) but I am delighted to say it’s now open again. It’s one of our oldest displays, launched in the early 1960s, but it’s wonderful and I love it.

The exhibits on show really invite you to spend time with them, to explore them and think about what they mean. And it doesn’t have to be the official story. Any detail might catch your eye and reveal a story personal to you.

Remember in an earlier post I mentioned we have a signal cannon from a Trinity House light ship that was built near where I live by the River Thames? Well, I went to take a picture and found a plaque for “Thomas Grieve & Sons, Bedford Street, North Shields“. Just across the River Tyne from where I was born and raised, in South Shields! Small world…

Signal cannon

Signal cannon

Detail of signal cannon

Detail of signal cannon

Then I took a look at the gas turbine engine nearby, used on the first jet-powered ship (see this earlier post). First I found its own maker’s plaque, but the closer I looked, the more little plates, numbers and marks I found. See some of my pics on Flickr here. Every time I thought I’d spotted all of them, I found another…

Metrovick gas turbine

Metrovick gas turbine

Metrovick gas turbine

Metrovick gas turbine

The moral of this story? It’s great fun to look really closely at, say, one exhibit in a museum near you. I mean, really closely, and over several visits, and then follow your nose to sniff out its wider story online, in libraries and in archives. Our history is embedded in the objects we’ve invented, made and used, and it’s all still there to be discovered…

One thought on “Looking closely at things

  1. petert turvey

    My mother’s family were related to nearby shipbuilders Palmers of Jarrow – models of their battleship HMS Lord Nelson and an oil tanker in the Shipplng Gallery too, plus a splendid 1880s model Palmers marine steam engine in store at Wroughton.

    Reply

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