object, n. a thing placed before or apprehended by the senses, something perceived
ecologies, n. relationships between things and their environments
curator, n. one who cares for souls (14th century)
the guardian of a minor or an insane person (15th century)
the keeper of a museum collection (16th century)
one who convenes or brings together objects in a display or exhibition (21st century)
In this website objects collected by Iziko Museums of South Africa and the University of Cape Town, are drawn out of the storeroom and displayed in the digital realm. Each is evidence of cultural mobility and each is curated to expose changing attitudes across time and space. Together this project hopes to be an exercise in the de-categorizing of objects in new ecologies. We thank the Mellon Foundation for their support of our partnership, and the staff of Iziko and the Centre for Curating the Archive.
Object Ecologies is being launched with a trial set of objects in 2018, and both UCT and Iziko Museums of South Africa will be adding further objects to this website in the coming months.
Tabloid Medicine Chest
BC666 Floyd Family Papers (Medicine Chest) (As listed in Wellcome catalogue: No. 254 (The Indian))
A small medicine chest, listed as BC666, can be found in the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the University of Cape Town. Roughly 15cm in height and depth, and 20cm in width, it is made of metal and painted black, with the words ‘Trade Mark’, ‘Tabloid’ and ‘Brand’ printed under the keyhole, on its front. Fitted with a brown leather strap and metal clasps, the case suggests easy portability and containment. Manufactured by Wellcome Bur...Go to Tabloid Medicine Chest
Willow Pattern Ceramic Sherds
Object 156 (VRP 1411; VRP 1391, VRP 1393; VRP 1041; VRP 1396[a], VRP 1396[b])
THE GREATEST MARKETING SCHEME OF ALL TIME?
Willow Pattern ceramic wares have been produced by British Potters since the late 18th Century, and persist in their local and global popularity based on their supposed depiction of a Chinese legend of two ill-fated lovers who, following a series of hardships in their human life, are blessed by the gods to live out their love eternally as immortal doves (Portanova, 2008).
6 X OES Beads/ SAM-AA 8444
In-Between Teeth, Touch and Time
Can you imagine the feeling of thick eggshell rubbing against your teeth? At times your tongue would flick against cold speckled shell and smooth warm enamel, feeling both textures at once. This would have been the sensation experienced by the bead makers who crafted these ostrich eggshell beads many centuries ago. Beads like these six were produced by nibbling or breaking pieces of eggshell int...
Antique Glass Liquid Medicine Bottle
An ancient and strange antique bottle with an origin in the Caribbean finds itself in Cape Town, South Africa today, with a somewhat untraceable explanation or history. Its unusual colourful reflective glass surface and broken edges make it all the more mysterious. Is this just a discarded drugstore medicine bottle of the past, or is it something more?Go to Antique Glass Liquid Medicine Bottle
Salon Face Powder Tin
The tin has a very boring, repetitive life, but within that repetitiveness I discovered an emotional connection to the object.
When selecting a personal object, I was simply looking for things that had a life before they were mine, without necessarily knowing the history of them. I chose this object because it was my mother’s before it was mine, and she would be able to answer questions about the life it had. The object is a con...
Born Into Slavery: Adonis
On the 26th of May 1829, the Estate of the late J. A. Myburgh was sold to a Mr Ryk Hendrik Myburgh. Within the estate, as was common during that time, were a number of slaves, one of them was called Adonis. At only eleven years old, an age between child and teenager the slave named Adonis was sold. Although he was born long after the Slave Trade Act of 1807, the young Adonis was still subjected to slave...
Jewel Beetle Necklace
Coleoptera (beetle) specimens of the family Buprestidae (jewel beetles)
Rich and jewel-like, with the quality of iridescence that sees variable colours across a single surface, the bodies of these six-legged creatures are very eye-catching. In the entomology collection of the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town resides an unusual, striking object – a wreath made from the bodies of pavonine jewel beetles. The object is an arrangement of pinned specimens in the manner of a neck...