April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hans Sloane

(who sorta' kinda' started the British Museum)

Pictured here, above, British Museum, including the Tree of Life, which was made from decommissioned weapons.

On this day in 1660, Hans Sloane was born in Northern Ireland. As a kid, he loved collecting all sorts of natural items and curiosities, and after moving to London, England, to go to medical school, he continued to collect. He even started buying other collector's collections!

Sloane got to g
o to Jamaica as the doctor of a duke, and although his job ended very quickly (the duke died, I'm sure due to no fault of Sloane's!), he collected about 800 new species of plants. He published his Jamaican findings and became well known as a doctor and collector.

Another thing that Sloane became known for is "drinking chocolate," or cocoa. While he was in Jamaica, he was exposed to cocoa mixed with water. Sloane apparently thought that tasted terrible, but he tried mixing the cocoa with milk. When he returned to England, he brought back his recipe. Apothecaries made up his chocolate drink for sale as medicine, and much later a company sold Sloane's drinking chocolate as a pleasant beverage.

In 1753, Hans Sloane died (aged 92!), leaving all his collection to his nation (for the low, low price of 20,000 pounds). The gift was accepted (and the monies paid to the executors of Sloane's will), and his collections were opened to the public as the British Museum in 1759.
(Later, a lot of his collection became the foundation for the Natural History Museum.)

For more on Sir Hans Sloane, read this post from Poor Richard's Almanac.

Shown here, above, is the Reading Room of the British Library.
It really is a most spectacular museum!

Create a Collection!

What fascinates you? You can copy Sloane and start a collection of natural items, such as rocks, shells, snake skins, or butterflies (among other things).

Or you can collect human-made things. In our hou
se, among many, many natural collections, we have collections of colorful pencils, stamps, coins, troll dolls, Star Wars toys, nutcrackers, fairy tale books, unicorn pictures, and National Park patches and pins.

One of the best collections I ever saw was a HUGE and well-organized collection of different sorts of Band-Aids and other bandages. (Umm...new, unused bandages, I want to point out!)

Display a Collection!

If you already have a cool collection, you might want to take it to the next level:
  • Build a display case for the collection.
  • Find a public spot where you can show it off. Look into your county fair, which will probably occur in the summer or early fall. Many county fairs allow the entry of well-displayed collections.
  • See if there are any similar collectors with websites on the internet. Maybe you can photograph your collection and display it on the web! If you can't find anyone with a website devoted to your particular specialty, consider making one!

Explore the British Museum!

This is one of the best museums in the world! (IMO)

There are so many ancient statues from Greece and Rome and Egypt, I get to wondering what's left in Greece/Rome/Egypt!

There are even whole entire temples INSIDE the museum, such as this one, above.

  • Go here to explore some of the museum's collections online.
  • And go here to play five cool online games about archeology!

Toast Hans Sloane with some chocolate milk or hot cocoa!

You might also want to check out the Sir Hans Sloane.com website. They offer a virtual taste-testing tour of their fine hand-made chocolates. Gosh, what an UNsatisfying virtual tour!!!

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