15 May 2011

Signing off!

It is with sadness that we must announce that this is our last blog post - our project is coming to an end.

We have really enjoyed writing these blog posts, and we hope that you have enjoyed reading them.

It doesn't have to end here, however: remember you can find our page on the Geffrye website, and play with our interactive map of the world and watch our digital story, A Short History of Tea in English Homes.

Also, our The World at Home display begins this Tuesday (17th) and will remain in the cases in the Twentieth Century Galleries at the Geffrye for the next few weeks. You will also be able to view a version of the display panels online. Find out how to get to the Geffrye here (PS it's free!).

We have also catered for the Museum's younger visitors: a special Sam the Dog trail is soon to be installed, which explores the international connections of some of the Geffrye's objects on display in the period rooms. The 'feely box' (in which you have to guess what objects are by feeling them rather than seeing them) has also been refreshed with new objects with an international twist.

Our project has been part of a much larger Stories of the World project, which is itself part of the Cultural Olympiad. The Geffrye is in the process of developing their main Stories of the World project for 2010, so what this space. In the meantime, there are loads of Stories of the World projects going on in museums all over London and the rest of the country. See the Facebook page to find one near you.

We would like to say a huge thankyou to everyone who has followed us over the last couple of months! We would also like to thank the Geffrye for allowing us to go behind-the-scenes at the museum, and the MLA for funding our project. We hope you enjoy the results!

Goodbye from The World at Home!

12 May 2011

A Very Strange Photoshoot

Since December, our Concourse Case Team have been hard at work developing a display which will be installed in the basement level of the Twentieth Century Galleries at the Geffrye on 17th May. Each team member has chosen an object - one from each of the Geffrye's 11 period rooms - and researched its connections with the wider world.

As part of their display panels, each team member will appear in a photograph with their chosen object. Back in March, photographer Em Fitzgerald took the team's photographs, and the Web Resources Team snuck along behind the scenes to see how it was all going.

As you'll see, this was not quite a conventional photoshoot, but we're not giving away exactly what was going on - you'll just have to come and see the display for yourself from next Tuesday!

Don't forget to come and along from next week and see the finished product and find out what on earth was going on!

Also - for those who haven't found it yet, we now have our own page on the Geffrye website, from which you can access our interactive map of the world.

9 May 2011

Mystery Object No. 5 - the Solution

 This pretty little thing is actually a lipstick case!
(c) Geffrye Museum, London

As the clue we posted gave away, it was made in the US. The text reading 'Exotic 2' is the shade of lipstick it was made to hold.

This particular lipstick was made between 1920 and 1960, but lipstick was used far earlier than that. It's thought that people started wearing lipstick as long ago as 5000 years. It's thought that ancient Mesopotamian women invented it by crushing semi-precious jewels, and it was very popular among Ancient Egyptians: Cleopatra wore lipstick made from crushed insects!

Lipstick wasn't used in England until much later, when Queen Elizabeth I first made it popular for upper class women in the 1500s. But it wasn't until 1884 that the first 'modern' lipstick was sold in Paris, made from deer tallow, castor oil and beeswax, and sold wrapped up in silk paper.

At first, all make-up had to be stored in small containers like pots and dishes - you can see many of these in museum collections of ancient objects - but this did make them quite tricky to use. The 'push up' lipstick everyone knows today and which makes lipstick much easier to use wasn't invented until the 1920s and 30s,  which is when manufacturers started producing make-up in many different shades. That was when objects like this one arrived - perfect pretty cases for telling your different shades apart!

You can read more about this particular lipstick case here.
Congratulations to anyone who guessed right on this or any of our other mystery objects - personally, I think some of them were quite tough!

6 May 2011

Mystery Object No. 5 - Something Silver

Yes that’s right, Mystery Object hasn’t gone away! This will, however, be our last instalment as our project is drawing to a close very soon – we’re very sad about this!

Anyway, here’s your last mystery object:
(c) Geffrye Museum, London

Simple question: what do you think was kept in this object?

And of course we’ll give you a clue - you get an extra picture this time!

(c) Geffrye Museum, London

Post your answers in the blog comments or via our Twitter feed.

You can check whether you got it right on Monday.

3 May 2011

Your Favourite Mugs

A little while ago, we asked you to send us photos of your favourite mug and tell us why that's the mug you go for when you need that all-important reviving, comforting cup of tea.

To finish off our 'Two Weeks of Tea', we're going to show you some of our favourites:

Thankyou to Rafi-Lopez for this Mexican mug given as a gift to a French lady who since living in England has adopted the custom of afternoon tea at 4pm. Excellent stuff.

Nicaragua: Defend the Gains of the Revolution

Another very international mug here from mais_oui, although this time it's also a very political one. It was one of many sold in the 1980s to raise money to support Nicaragua's FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front), a revolutionary party who seized power, only to be toppled by Regan's administration. Along with the politics, mais_oui tells us that it is also a familiar object from her childhood, combining 'domesticity and global politics'.

Macalester History Dept mug

This is clearly a well-loved and well-used mug, a little bashed about but loved nonetheless. mmbrook8 tells us that it is from her undergraduate college, which she likes to have a little reminder of wherever she goes. The mug is an excellent way to do this. And functional too - what more could you want?

This is a very intriguing contribution from lolamaxx. It was purchased at Dickens' World in Chatham Maritime, Kent. The mind boggles at what that might involve.

We would like to say a big thankyou to everyone who has contributed photographs, we are glad that it is not just us who views our mugs as old friends.
See everyone's contributions on our Flickr group here.

That is it for our photo events, we hope that you have enjoyed sharing some of the things which make up your homes.

Our blog will be drawing to a close soon but fear not - we have one last mystery object up our sleeve. Look out for it soon, we think it might be the most difficult yet...

27 April 2011

Royal weddings: souvenir mugs

Royal souvenir mugs are one of the ways in which the English have made tea drinking their own. Royal marriages, coronations and even divorces and deaths are all marked by a proliferation of porcelain.

No sooner had William and Kate announced their engagement on 16th November 2010 than the rush to produce memorabilia began. Many producers already had designs ready and waiting in anticipation of such an announcement, and in some cases mugs were available almost overnight.

As a museum of the home, the Geffrye’s collections reflect the nation’s tendency to commemorate royal events with homewares. We were allowed into the museum stores to investigate some of the objects from their collection of royal memorabilia.

Royal memorabilia in the Geffrye Museum stores
This beaker commemorates the coronation of George V in 1911, and includes a local commemorative inscription, in which Bethnal Green is represented as a rural idyll.

Coronation mug of George V, 1911. Geffrye Museum, London

Coronation mug of George V, 1911. Geffrye Museum, London
Many would say you can’t have tea without biscuits – never fear, the royal souvenir market has that covered too, as this commemorative biscuit tin, from the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 demonstrates.

Biscuit tin commemorating coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953. Geffrye Museum, London.
One could have enjoyed dunking a nice biscuit from one’s coronation tin (preferably something involving chocolate) into one’s coronation mug.

Coronation mug of Elizabeth II, 1953. Geffrye Museum, London
Memorabilia of less popular royals is rarer and therefore more valuable today: mugs marking the coronation of the philandering, gambling George IV in 1820, for example, can fetch £3,500. Far more numerous were mugs marking his death, worth around £700 today.

While royal memorabilia was not common until Victorian times, its roots can be traced back to the reign of Charles II (1660-1685), when royal pomp was encouraged after eleven years of royal exile following the execution of Charles I in 1649. The ceramics collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum includes a colourful little mug bearing a picture of Charles II. Tea at this time was hugely expensive, and this cup was probably meant for display or for drinking strong ale.

From one of the earliest royal commemorative mugs back to the most recent, we're betting that in the long run, these mugs accidentally depicting Harry alongside Kate rather than William will turn out to be the most sought-after souvenirs of the occasion.

Manufacturers of William and Kate mugs do not just have their eyes on the British market, but the international market. Memorabilia connected with the British royal family is popular the world over, especially in the USA.

As Asda put it: ‘Nothing says congratulations like your face on a mug.’

It’s just not official unless we can drink tea out of it.

25 April 2011

Mystery Object No. 4 - the Solution

This week, we asked you to guess what this object would have been used for in the eighteenth century:

Hot water urn, c.1790 (c) Geffrye Museum, London
When first seeing this object in the Geffrye Museum, we did something of a double take. It looks familiar – rather like a sporting trophy – yet the tap sticking out of it would suggest that it is intended for something quite different.

It is, in fact, a hot water urn, to be used to replenish a teapot without the need to interrupt a tea party by calling for a servant, made in around 1790.

When tea first started to be drunk in English homes from the late 1600s, it was hugely expensive. In the 1690s, the Countess of Argyll paid over £10 for 6 ounces of tea. That’s £26 per pound, at a time when her estate’s lawyer earned £20 a year.

Given the expense and mystique of the imported oriental leaf, tea was not kept in the kitchen stores but in the mistress’s closet in a locked canister or caddy. When tea was to be drunk, it would not be prepared in the kitchen, but in the room in which it was to be served. Servants would bring the required equipment to the room, and the lady or gentleman of the house would brew the tea and serve it to their guests or family.

Hence the need for our hot water urn; a servant would deliver the crucial supply of boiling water and pour it into an appropriate vessel, to be used as required.

See the real thing in the Geffrye Museum, in Information Bay 4.

For more on the history of tea in English homes, look out for our digital story, which will be available on the Geffrye Museum website from early May.

23 April 2011

Mystery Object No. 4 - Something Shiny

Have you been missing our mystery object posts? If so then we have excellent news - we have a new mystery object this week!

Can you tell us what this object would have been used for?

(c) Geffrye Museum, London
It is made of silver-plated copper and dates from the eighteenth century.

Answer in the blog comments of via our Twitter feed, and we'll post the solution on Monday. Happy guessing!

21 April 2011

World at Home for the Family

Lots of pictures for you today! Tuesday and Wednesday saw our The World at Home family days take over the Geffrye Museum, and I think we can safely say that a good time was had by all. Here is a sample of what went on:

Scents of the World - making pomanders to take home
Mixing fragrances in Scents of the World

Tales from the Deep - handling 300 year old tea bowls and saucers (lucky children - we haven't been allowed to do this!)

Tales from the Deep - retelling the story of the Ca Mau shipwreck using shadow puppets. Truly impressive.
Tales from the Deep - concentrating hard at the OHP
Lunchtime at the museum in the sunshine
Company's Coming - baking Turkish biscuits. They smelt amazing!
Company's Coming - tasty biscuit mixture
Company's Coming - the finished product!

Printed Patterns - making prints using fabric paint

Printed Patterns - even our youngest visitors joined in

Printed Patterns - some of the finished prints. They will all be stitched together to make a banner

Fantastic Fans - remember we told you about Japanese uchiwa? Some of the children at yesterday's family day made their own to take home with them

Another Fantastic Fan

Tea Leaf Reading - enjoying a nice cup of Early Grey

Tea Leaf Reading - finding out what different symbols in the tea leaves mean
 There are more photos over on our Flickr site. Were you there? See if you can find yourself!

18 April 2011

Two Weeks of Tea

Update: We've decided to give you some extra time to get your favourite mug photos in - the photo event will now end on Tuesday 3rd May and that's when we'll be posting our favourites.

For the next two weeks, the World at Home blog will be running under the theme of tea!

Drinking tea is often associated with the English, yet it's something which is not originally English at all, which makes it the perfect way to explore international influences in the home.

If you want to find out more about where tea comes from and how it ended up in English homes, look out for our Digital Story called 'The History of Tea in English Homes' which will appear on the Geffrye Museum's website in May.

Your Favourite Mug

As part of our 'two weeks of tea', we've decided to run another photographic event!

Drinking tea is often considered a very 'English' past time, but we know that not only does tea get taken in many different ways all across the UK, but people from all over the world drink it too. After all, the English weren't the first people to drink tea.

Once tea started to be imported into Britain in the late 1600s, people here took to it very quickly, but drinking tea meant they needed to have something to drink it from. As well as tea, ships started bringing in the delicate china it was drunk out of - first tea bowls, then tea cups! Now, the range of things you can buy for drinking your tea out of is huge, and cups and mugs are made from many different materials.

We want to see what it is you drink your tea out of. Maybe a picture of your favourite mug or tea cup, or the one you use most often. Maybe you have one that was imported, just like they were first imported to Britain from China.

Once again, you can send us your photos by adding them to our Flickr group. Once you've uploaded your images to your Flickr account, join our group and click 'add something' to contribute your images. Tell us all about your mug in the photo's description.

This way, we can collect your images and make our own online gallery of favourite mugs.

Here are a couple of our favourite mugs to get you started:

"My mum bought this mug for me after I got my GCSE results. I'd been really ill during the exams and was so worried about how the results would come out! They turned out all right and this mug helps to cheer me up when I'm worried about something."
"Yes, this is actually a mug! I saw this camera lens mug on the internet and wanted it for a long time before my boyfriend bought it for me as a Christmas present. I love it because it looks so real, people always give me a funny look when I start pouring boiling water into it. Plus, it matches my real camera lenses."

You don't need to be a professional photographer, or even have a camera - a mobile phone shot will do, or maybe you could even draw us a picture! We want to get as many people as possible exploring their home for international influences, and then let you share them with people all over the world! If you can't get us a picture, tell us about your international objects in the blog comments.

Our favourite images and/or stories from the group will be posted here on the blog next Saturday (30th April). Check back to see if yours makes it!

16 April 2011

Tales from the Deep

On both of our Stories of the World Family Days next week (Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th April), families can take part in our Tales from the Deep storytelling activity.

Tales from the Deep is based on the story of a shipwreck discovered by fishermen in 1998, off the Ca Mau peninsular in Vietnam. The wreck was of a Chinese ship known as a junk, which sank in about 1725, laden with cargo destined for the European market. There was great demand for Chinese porcelain in Europe at this time, especially to equip people to drink the newly fashionable tea.

The junk was carrying thousands of pieces of Chinese porcelain, probably ferrying them between Canton (Guangzhou) and the Dutch trading post of Batavia (now Jakarta). It is clear that much of this porcelain was destined for sale at European ports such as London or Amsterdam; some pieces are decorated with elements of traditional Dutch fishing villages, but executed in the Chinese style. As well as this intermingling of decorative influences, there were objects of European form, such as beer mugs.

Saucer, c.1725 (c) Geffrye Museum, London
Tea bowl, c.1725 (c) Geffrye Museum, London
The tea bowl and saucer pictured above were probably made in the city of Jingdezhen, China, which is famous for its porcelain production. Their decoration shows a scene in a garden with a pavilion and three figures, a man in military clothing walking with a woman, and a man in scholarly official robes emerging from behind the pavilion.

After 250 years on the seabed, much of this cargo has now been recovered. In fact, you can see some of it on display in the Geffrye’s 1745 parlour.

Even more excitingly, families taking part in our Tales of the Deep activity will be able to handle a tea bowl recovered from the wreck. Children can then make their own shadow puppets to retell the ship’s story.

Find more information about the tea bowl and saucer pictured in the Geffrye’s collections online here.

13 April 2011

Fantastic Fans

Next week, at our second Stories of the World Family Day on Wednesday 20th April, children can join in with our ‘Fantastic Fans!’ activity.

Fan, c.1890-1950 (c) Geffrye Museum, London
‘Fantastic Fans!’ is based on the Japanese fan pictured above, on display in the Geffrye Museum’s 1890 drawing room. The 1890 room is decorated in the style of the Aesthetic Movement, which was strongly influenced by Japanese art and design.

These traditional Japanese round hand fans are known as ‘uchiwa’, and they have a very long history. They came originally from China, and were made from bamboo and ‘washi’ paper. They have had many uses: as far back as the Heian period (794-1185), fans were used as ceremonial items at the Imperial court, later they became common props in performing arts such as Japanese classical dancing, and in the tea ceremony. They were also a necessity amongst ordinary people for keeping cool in the summer, and for stoking cooking fires. They are still in use today, to fan charcoal on barbeques or to cool hot rice when making sushi, and also as cheap, practical promotional items, distributed in cities in the summer.
Tradition in Kyoto holds that uchiwa are properly used not to fan oneself, but to fan others, as a way of expressing respect and appreciation.
In our ‘Fantastic Fans!’ workshop, children can make an ‘uchiwa’ fan of their own design to take home with them. See here for the programme of events.
See the real thing in the 1890 room!
See here for more information from the Geffrye's collections online.

For more on Japanese homes, see the Geffrye Museum’s exhibition 'At Home in Japan - Beyond the Minimal House', running from 22 March to 29 August 2011.

11 April 2011

Stories of the World Family Days

Do you have restless children to entertain over the school holidays?
Bring them along to the Geffrye Museum for our Stories of the World Family Days for fun craft workshops, stories and more, based around some of the different cultures that have influenced English homes over the last 400 years. Children can try their hand at some Turkish baking, make shadow puppets to perform their own puppet show, or perhaps even see into the future reading tea leaves!

Family day (c) Geffrye Museum, London
Scents of the World
All Ages
10:30-12:30, 2:00-4:00 (24 places available)
Sweeten your home with sachets of exotic herbs and spices.

Wish You Were Here!
All Ages
10:30-12:30, 2:00-4:00 (24 places available)
Design a postcard to share your dream home with the world.
Tales From the Deep
All Ages
10:30-12:30, 2:00-4:00 (24 places available)
Handle objects from the Ca Mau shipwreck and retell the story using shadow puppets.
Company’s Coming
12:00 and 2:30 (14 places available - register when you arrive)
Bake your own traditional Turkish tea-time treats.
Fantastic Fans!
All Ages
10:30-12:30, 2:00-4:00 (24 places available)
Explore Japanese design to create your own fan.
Printed Patterns
All Ages
10:30-12:30, 2:00-4:00 (24 places available)
Be inspired by 1960s textiles to produce a group piece of art.
Tales From the Deep
All Ages
10:30-12:30, 2:00-4:00 (24 places available)
Handle objects from the Ca Mau shipwreck and retell the story using shadow puppets.
Tea-leaf Reading
12:00- 1:00, 2:00-3:00, 3:15-4:15 (14 places available - register when you arrive)
Try your hand at the popular Victorian parlour game of tea leaf reading.

Family day activities (c) Geffrye Museum, London
We hope to see you there!

9 April 2011

Your International Home

Last week we asked you to tell us about international objects in your home and we loved seeing the international objects from around your homes! Here are some of our favourites:

Doug Ellertson shared this photo of Japanese Asahi which he has been enjoying in his Canadian home:

Close Up of Asahi Beer! :)

Plenty of the food and drink we take for granted has made long international journeys: in recent decades, food and drink have travelled around the globe far more than ever before.
Of course, when food is imported from other countries, often the country it's being imported to doesn't have the accessories to go with it - they need to be imported too.
team_nuwanda showed us this pretty little rice bowl that has come all the way from Hong Kong to England:

Rice Bowl

Some of our very favourite photos were of two different objects, both made from scrap metal, and brought back from different parts of Africa.

Steph-Nut showed us this very cute little warthog (made from spare metal shavings) from Zimbabwe:


While lolamaxx contributed this model racing car, made in South Africa:

Scrap Tin Car, Cape Flats, Cape Town

But if we were giving out points for the number of international objects contributed, the first prize would have to go to barefootfiona, for this impressive haul covering 11 countries in 5 continents!

Foreign Souvenirs

Even the blanket they are sitting on here started its life in Africa.

Thankyou to everyone who contributed to the Flickr group!

If you enjoyed contributing this time around, keep your eyes peeled for our next photographic event to run through our Flickr group, which will start on the 20th April.