Digital Lab Blog

This blog aims to highlight artefacts, stories, histories, and relationships from the collections at MAA. Each post begins with an object or a collection at MAA and explores wider themes including substances of wellbeing and intoxication, process of making, mending, and conservation, digitisation and more!

Explore the most recent blog posts below or use the dropdown menu to filter posts by category. For more stories on collections from across the MAA and the wider University Cambridge Museums consortium, head to the University of Cambridge Museums blog.

Bellarmine or Bartmann Jugs from a Ceramic Maker’s Point of View

How can recreating museum objects enhance our understanding? A ceramic maker explores this through her creative practice, which seeks to enable haptic engagements with museum collections.

Lisa Robson

27 June 2023

A Ceremonial Cup of Tea

This post suggests an alternative reading of the life of a woman who lived in Tibet, Sikkim, and Bhutan, analysing it as an encounter between two different tea drinking cultures.

Aayushi Gupta

20 June 2023

Double Identities: A Guanyin Statue in a Carriage Clock Case

When an object is misidentified, is it a ‘mistake’ or something more? Using a Guanyin statue as a case study, I suggest that objects can inhabit two identities when embodying two simultaneous social meanings.

Xintian Ma

13 June 2023

Broken objects whisper their secrets. Are you listening?

What value do broken objects hold? Are they doomed to spend the rest of their days in boxes being ignored? How can we instead use them to enhance our understanding of those objects?

Katrina Dring

6 June 2023

A Tea Brick from Fuzhou

Of all the tea bricks at MAA, only one is embossed with the image of a dragon. What are the multiple meanings of this important Chinese symbol in this context, and what is its relationship to the tea brick?

Shuzhen Kong (Ellen)

30 May 2023

17th-century Frechen Bartmann Jugs and ‘Witch’ Bottles

Named after the bearded man that features on them and originating in the the mid- to late-16th century in the Rhineland, how did these stoneware pots become associated with 'witch' bottles?

Nigel Jeffries

2 May 2023

Tea and the Margaret Williamson Collection

MAA looks after at least 280 objects from Tibet and its surrounding Himalayan states, and 6,000 photographs donated by Margaret Williamson. But who was she and how did she acquire these objects?

Aayushi Gupta

25 April 2023

A Creative Practitioner’s Insight into Sámi Coffee and Salt Bags

Drawing on her own experience of making a fish-skin leather purse, Collections Assistant Katrina Dring provides an insight into the making of similar Sámi leather bags in the MAA collections.

Katrina Dring

18 April 2023

Lady Schuster’s Tibetan Tea

A collection was donated to MAA in 1947 by a Lady Schuster. But nothing is known about her nor the contexts in which her collection of tea objects was assembled. Who was she?

Mark Elliott

11 April 2023

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