It is customary to launch into the digital realm for the first time with a tentative yet friendly ‘Hello, world’. A Hello World computer program is one that displays this simple message in confirmation of the novice programmer’s successful coding – “You’ve done it, you’re digital!” it announces.
At the Museum of Natural History in Oxford we have of course already made it on to the internet, and our Entomology team already have their very own bug blog, Hope You Like Insects. In fact,our previous writer in residence, Georgina Ferry, blogged about the Museum’s comings and goings during her tenure too, but this is our first fully in-house Museum-wide blog and so a tentative but friendly ‘Hello, world’ feels just about right to kick things off.
But it’s also a case of ‘Goodbye, world’, for this blog is conceived to document a year of closure to the public. As the Museum becomes clad in board and scaffold – rigged up to enable a painstaking repair of the glass tiled roof – it’s goodbye to the natural world that is normally on display in the courts and galleries: camels, reindeer and dinosaurs are foam-wrapped and huddled together in the south aisle like cartoon outlines of themselves, and many other specimens have been removed from display and placed in safe storage.
So is it a funny time to launch a blog? Hopefully not. We hope that this blog will give people a window into some of the work that is taking place in the Museum throughout the year, including the important cleaning and repair of the roof, but also of some behind the scenes activity in various departments. There are some special public things planned to make up for the closure too – more of that to come.
In the meantime follow the blog, tweet it, or stick it in your RSS reader and we’ll let you know what we’re up to. Right now, whale skeletons are being lowered for cleaning and conservation; our Education team is about to hit the road to visit schools in a resplendent new van; and we’re putting together a special exhibition with the Museum of the History of Science in Broad Street.
Which leads nicely to the last thing, the name of this blog. The building may be thrown into shadow by the large construction hoardings that are consuming the north aisle and central court, and there may be an unusual hush as families, children and other visitors make their way straight to the Pitt Rivers Museum, which remains open as normal, but there is still plenty going on. As we hope to reveal here over the next twelve months, we may be darkened but we are definitely not dormant.
Scott Billings, communications coordinator