Space shuttles to retire to US museums


Three retired space shuttles are to be given to museums in California, Florida and suburban Washington, according an announcement by NASA on 12 April – the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle flight and the 50th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to orbit the earth. The space shuttle Discovery is to go to the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, Atlantis will head to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, while Endeavour will be housed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The prototype Enterprise, which never flew in space, will go to the Intrepid museum in New York City. Twenty-one US institutions applied for the retired shuttles.


Reprinted guide to 16th-century Europe

A 16th-century guide to the world’s major cities has been reprinted, giving a bird’s eye view map of every major European city at the time, as well as maps from cities in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The original work, published in Cologne, Germany, between 1572 and 1617 was intended to accompany a 1570 atlas of the world by renowned cartographer Abraham Ortelius, and included figures in local dress, ships, carts and topographical details. The reprinted version is based on an original set of six volumes belonging to Frankfurt’s Historische Museum, and was created by Franz Hogenberg and Geog Braun. The book, Braun and Hogenberg, Cities of the World, is published by Taschen.

Viking woman’s face digitally reconstructed

Using specialist computer equipment, academics at Dundee University have worked with York’s Jorvik Viking Centre to recreate the face of a Viking woman whose skeleton was discovered in York 30 years ago. The woman’s skull was laser scanned to create a 3D digital model with digital eyes, hair and bonnet. The anatomy of the face was modelled in “virtual clay”, from the deep muscles to the surface. The reconstruction now features in York Archaeological Trust’s new Investigate Coppergate exhibition.

Queen Victoria’s Irish visit in minute detail

Some 200 letters, memos and telegrams detailing Queen Victoria’s visit to Ireland in 1900 are to be sold at auction in Dublin. The papers cover many of the finer details of the trip’s organisation, including the right frockcoat to wear for the occasion and telegrams detailing how the royal yacht got “lost” temporarily just days prior to the April visit. According to auctioneer Ian Whyte, the documents show a degree of panic surrounding the trip among civil servants at the time. The file of papers is expected to fetch between £356–£534.

Film-maker claims he has found nails used to crucify Jesus

A documentary film-maker has claimed that he has located two of the nails used to crucify Jesus. The nails, which are around two inches long, were originally discovered in a 2,000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem in 1990 – a grave said to belong to Caiaphas, who, according to the Bible, was the Jewish high priest who sent Jesus to the cross. However, the artefacts disappeared in mysterious circumstances shortly after the tomb was resealed; film-maker Simcha Jacobovici now believes he has tracked them down in a laboratory in Tel Aviv. However, his claims have not roused a great deal of interest among scholars and experts, many of whom believe Jacobovici to be a publicity-seeker. Meanwhile, the Israel Antiquities Authority has stated that it is not uncommon for nails to be found in tombs.

Murderer buried 190 years after his hanging

The skeleton of a man who was hanged for murder in Bristol in 1821 has been buried in Hanham, near Bristol, 190 years after his death. The body of John Horwood was originally used for dissection classes at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and his skeleton has remained in a cupboard at the University of Bristol ever since, still with the rope around its neck. Research revealed that Horwood’s body was skinned, preserved and tanned; his skin used to bind all the papers referring to the case. A relative of Horwood called for a proper burial of the remains and he was buried in a Christian service in a family grave, exactly 190 years to the hour after he was hanged.

The Lowry launches search for Valette paintings

The Lowry Arts Centre in Salford Quays has launched a search for lost and unknown paintings by Frenchman Adolphe Valette, the artisit said to have brought Impressionism to Manchester and who inspired LS Lowry’s work. The gallery is asking for anyone with a painting by Valette, or who is related to any of his life-drawing class models, to get in touch ahead of a retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work at the gallery in October 2011.

Ulster Folk and Transport Museum acquires Titanic collection

Ireland’s Ulster Folk and Transport Museum has acquired more than 7,000 items from Titanic’s parent company White Star Line, ahead of its new Titanica exhibition opening on 31 May 2011, marking the centenary of the ship’s launch. Among the objects are serving dishes and soap from the Titanic, as well as passenger lists, tickets, playing cards and a steward’s menu ideas. The collection was compiled by Paul Louden Brown, vice-president of the Titanic Historical Society, and also includes uniforms, furniture, photographs, diaries, magazines, books and crockery.


Second World War steam tug to be preserved

One of the few surviving prefabricated steam tugs built towards the end of the Second World War is to be preserved at Chatham’s Historic Dockyard. The tug was built in 1945 and is one of only four out of 182 to remain in its original form. These tugs were the first all-welded ships to be built in the UK and the first prefabricated ships constructed. According to records from the Ministry of War Transport, the tugs were designed to be built “in the shortest possible time, the delivery of one tug per week, using in the process, little or no shipyard labour”.