My Museum Journey Continues…

In celebration of International Museum Day, Fang from the Visitor Team invited readers to join her on a Museum Journey…  and here in part two she continues her story of inspiration across the globe.

My Museum Journey Continues …


Fang 4Modern Museum, Stockholm, Sweden. (Image from:

The Moderna Museet is a state museum for modern and contemporary art located on the island of Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm. Its former Director, Dr Lars Nittve, was the founding Director of the Tate Modern in London. In August 2015, he also gave an opening speech for the exhibition “The M+ Sigg Collection: Chinese Art from the 1970s to Now” in the Whitworth, Manchester.

Fang 5J.M.W. Turner, Sun Setting over a lake, ca 1840  © Tate, London 2011

One weekend, just before Christmas, I finally found time to visit the “Three Masters – Turner, Monet & Twombly” exhibition. I thought I had arrived early, but there was already a long queue stretching to the edge of the Museum. It was a dull and chilly Swedish winter morning, and it had just started to snow. Waiting and chatting, some visitors were beginning to rub their hands and stamp their feet to try to keep warm. Suddenly, a wood-burning fire was set up, and the museum staff started to serve warm drinks for free; a hot, spicy, alcohol-free glögg that warmed up your heart and made the wait more bearable!

The Museum is situated on a hill top of the island. The condensing vapour from the lake below mixed with the steam from the glögg pot, fused into the snowflakes – the buildings and surroundings were blurred – the red flames from the fire in the mist of white – the colours flowed, like a painting of Turner the early impressionist. Of course, the exhibition was impressive, but more memorable was the warming “glögg”, the humanity of service from the Museum, and the ‘impressionist’ picture painted in my mind.


Postmuseum, Stockholm (Image from:

Wherever I travel, I tend to do two things first: visit the local museums and send a postcard home. I was lucky in that there is a Post Museum located in the heart of the ‘Old Town‘. It is the oldest post office in Stockholm, dating back to the 17th century, and has also been a museum since 1926.

During a cold day in winter 2004, I was in this cosy museum. Surprisingly, and happily, I learned it was the release day for the Christmas Stamps, and the designer would be here! I bought some stamps and a first day cover. I looked around to find a table to use to write cards and covers. It was much busier than usual. Ah! There was a quiet table in front of the window, so I sat down and focused on my writing. Suddenly I felt I was no longer alone, and I looked up. There was a queue in front of me. An elderly gentleman and staff were by my side, smiling at me. The people in the queue were also smiling. I then realised that I was occupying the designer’s table for signing. I was so embarrassed and went to join the end of the queue. When it was my turn, the gentleman said to me quietly “It would be nice to have an assistant here!” He was Björn Berg, the Swedish illustrator (1924-2008), behind some of Sweden’s best known and most beloved book illustrations, and I got his signature on the First Day Cover!

fang 8

Signed First Day Cover of Christmas 2004 – ‘Gnome chores’

Recently, Elaine Bates, the Early Year Programme Coordinator at Manchester Museum, gave the Visitor Team a talk about the Nature Discovery gallery. We learned that the ‘’Forest”- 3D paper ‘story book’ art installation was developed in collaboration with the Manchester-based artist Helen Musselwhite.

Fang 9‘The Forest’, Nature Discovery, Manchester Museum

And the post office story comes full circle, as Helen also designed the UK Christmas stamps 2016, about which there is a blog post on the website of the Postal Museum, London (opening in mid-2017).

Fang 10Christmas stamps 2016 UK (Image from:


Fang 11Stortorget, Stockholm. The Nobel Museum is on the right. (Image from:

The Nobel Prize is one of the world’s most prestigious awards, bestowed annually in recognition of advances in Chemistry, Physics, Literature, Peace and Physiology/Medicine. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2001 when the Nobel Museum opened in Stockholm. In the same year, I started my visiting research in the homeland of the Nobel Prize. Later I did my PhD study in the Karolinska Institute, where the Nobel Committee in Physiology/Medicine is based. The Nobel winners’ lectures are always the highlights in the Institute in the dark days of December.

The Nobel Museum tells the story of the Prize, its founder Alfred Nobel, and the Nobel laureates. In summer, it was very enjoyable to sit in front of the Museum in the oldest square in Stockholm, pondering over the life and achievements of the Prize winners.

The Manchester Museum is proud to be part of the University of Manchester. The University has 25 Nobel laureates so far, the latest winners being Sir Konstantin Novoselov and Sir Andre Geim who jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their work on graphene.

Left: Nobel Prize winner Konstantin Novoselov (Photo by Zp2010, CC BY-SA 3.0). Right: Graphene was obtained from William Blake’s ‘Study for Tiriel Denouncing his Sons and Daughters’ (1789), Whitworth Art Gallery

Fang 14Fireworks burst out over Whitworth Park. (Photograph: Steve Devine)

Do you remember the wonderful reopening ceremony of the Whitworth in February 2015?

Konstantin Novoselov and artist Cornelia Parker together created an unusual firework display. Parker’s ‘meteorite shower’ was ignited by Novoselov breathing on a graphene sensor. The graphene was prepared from exfoliated graphite from the pencil lead on a drawing by William Blake. Prof Novoselov is known for his interest in art, particularly Chinese traditional painting. He believes that there is a link between art and science, that both artists and scientists rely on curiosity, willingness to learn and imagination.


Body Experience, Manchester Museum

“Researchers from across the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at The University of Manchester will take over the Museum from top to bottom, allowing you to explore the human body from head to toe! Interactive stands and activities for all the family will include a range of activities from making your own mucus, testing wee to learn how the kidneys work, holding real hearts and learning how milk is made. Part of British Science Week 2017.”

Manchester Museum hosted the 7th ‘Body Experience’ Big Saturday on 18 March. This time, as a visitor, I had a relatively whole experience of the body. Last year I just focused on the spine, as I was a contributing scientist from the Regenerative Medicine group which hosted the ‘spine section’.

Contribution to the ‘Body Experience’ is a traditional social responsibility of the research group. We guided visitors to explore the wonders of the human spine, to build a spine model, and even to perform their own spinal surgery – on a model of course! The final part focused on the applications of our research, showing how to introduce stem cells as a potential alternative to surgery.

I am looking forward to the next ‘Body Experience’, this time as part of my Museum work duty. I will then have had a full Body Experience from different angles through various roles!

It is time to finish my story. A museum is a fascinating place, full of mysteries and unrevealed truths … and many interesting stories happen every day in museums. This was my museum journey from Beijing to Manchester. How about your museum experiences?

Fang Zong


Thanks to M. Humphreys, Report ‘The Body Experience 2017′



3 thoughts on “My Museum Journey Continues…

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