June 2023 - Secret Gardens: Exploring Pathways through our Collections

Visit our first virtual museum exhibition. Working with a group of young Bristolians aged 11-18, we co-developed our first virtual museum. Our ‘Secret Gardeners’ helped us select objects from across the University’s rich collections. Together we found connections inspired by the University’s public art and driven by our Secret Gardeners’ interest in activism and climate change.

View of Secret Gardens show

Explore the diverse collections the University cares for, all in one space. Handle objects too delicate to pick up in real life and find yourself transported to unexpected places. The exhibition is hosted by spatial.io or you can download the VR Quest 2 .apk.

Featured Collections

Working across collections this exhibition relied on cross-University collaboration and showcased material from:
• Archaeology
• Anatomy
Botanic Gardens
Earth Sciences Collection
Special Collections
Theatre Collection
Public Art


This exhibition was funded by AHRC Capability for Collections (CapCo) Impact Funding. This project was only possible because it followed a CapCo grant that allowed us to invest in 3D, 2D and AV digitisation tools.

Arts and Humanities Research Council logo.

After your virtual visit, please tell us about your experience.

L‌ist of exhibits

Secret Gardens was co-produced with a group of young Bristolians. They contributed new artworks, their words, audio and ideas. Artefacts sourced from the University of Bristol’s collections are not necessarily presented at their original scale, and include: 

Bay 1: Uncertain World, Lucas Antics, 2009, Park Row, Public Art Collection 
Google maps, What3Words location:///apples.patrol.lift

  • Crocodile Skull, Earth Science Collection, Ref: BRSUG 20137
  • Sketch for Uncertain World, Alex Lucas, 2015, digital image, University of Bristol Art Collection
  • The Sea Dragons as they Lived, John Martin, 1840, engraving, Special Collections
  • Thecodontosaurus, the Bristol Dinosaur model by palaeoartist Bob Nicholls, Earth Science Collection

Bay 2: Castaway, Frank Benson, 2018, Goldney Gardens, Public Art Collection 
Google maps, What3Words location: ///loving.cool.noises

  • Horseshoe Crab Fossil, Earth Science Collection
  • Horseshoe Crab Illustration from Recueil des monumens des catastrophes que le globe terrestre a éssuiées, Georg Wolfgang Knorr, c1776, Special Collections
  • Hercules statue, 1758, photograph, Goldney Gardens
  • Rubbish found under Bristol Old Vic Gallery floor, Theatre Collection Ref: BOV/12/5,

Bay 3: Follow Me, Jeppe Hein, 2009, Royal Fort Gardens, Public Art Collection 
Google maps, What3Words location: ///decreased.hotel.ground 

  • The Garden, Rex F Hopes, 1934, Special Collections
  • Fragments of the Royal Coburg Looking Glass Curtain, Theatre Collection, Ref: OV/M/236
  • Print showing the Looking Glass Curtain at the Coburg Theatre [London Old Vic] with a juggler on the stage, Ref: TC/P/T/101
  • Glass Bottle with "SE" stamp, c1700, Ref: RFG.2001/SF/17, Archaeology
  • Clip from Centenary Film, Terry Flaxton, 2019

Bay 4: Voronoi Screen, Wilkinson Eyre & Prof Peter Green, 2017, School of Mathematics, Public Art Collection  
Google maps, What3Words location:///engine.tunnel.under 

  • Malachite, Earth Science Collection
  • Gull clip from The World We Live In: Animal War-Animal Peace (1968), Special Collections, Ref: DM2911/2/6/43

Bay 5: Edith & Hans, Sarah Staton, 2016, Stoke Bishop Campus, Public Art Collection 
What3Words location:///stone.plates.long 

  • Welfare State International Brick on Wheels, Theatre Collection, Ref: WSI/UNCA/11
  • Excerpt from The Story of the Brick that Moved by Peter Longman, Theatre Collection, Ref: WSI/UNCA/11
  • Edith and Hans and the Currency Mesh, Sarah Staton, 2017, Silk screen print on paper, University of Bristol Art Collection

Bay 6: Hollow, Katie Paterson, 2019, Royal Fort Gardens, Public Art Collection 
Google maps, What3Words location:///smug.poker.wire 

  • Bristol Whitebeam branch, Botanic Gardens, Sorbus bristoliensis
  • Fossilised wood, Earth Science Collection, Ref: BRSUG 28788
  • Stigmaria, fossilised root, Earth Science Collection, BRSUG 28765
  • Vasculum, Botanic Gardens
  • Petrified wood built into wall adjacent to Senate House, What3Words location: ///front.frost.client

Bay 7: Henrietta Lacks, 2021, Helen Wilson Roe, Royal Fort Gardens, Public Art Collection 
Google maps, What3Words location: ///swift.cove.tube 

  • Cell Drawing, RS Smith, 1870, Special Collections, Ref: DM2654/5
  • Image of a HeLA cell being used in COVID-19 research, James Daly, Pete Cullen lab, School of Biochemistry

Bay 8: Palm Temple, Luke Jerram, 2020, Chemistry Precinct, Public Art Collection 
Google maps, What3Words location: ///spirit.often.jukebox 

  • Kaleidoscope Magic Lantern Slide, Special Collections, Ref: DM3192
  • Polar Bear Skeleton, photograph, Veterinary Anatomy

Bay 9: Atlas, Annie Cattrell, 2017, Queens Building, Public Art Collection
Google maps, What3Words location: ///editor.engage.debate 

  • Slate Globe, Philips & Son’s, c1950s, Earth Science Collection
  • Title page from Atlas, Justus Danckerts, 1690, Special Collections, Ref: DM511
  • Three-Dimensional Map of Mount Etna Volcano, Earth Science Collection
  • Relief Map of the Bristol District, c1920s, Earth Science Collection
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