Spooky Spotlight – Bit of a Shocker

Welcome to a week of Spooky Spotlights! To celebrate Halloween we will be delving into the Museum’s collections and putting the spotlight on the terrifyingly gruesome & frighteningly peculiar objects that lurk in the stores…

The first spooky spotlight falls on this ‘shocking’ curiosity. The Head of Despair, a wooden painted head with hair woven into a cloth scalp, is connected to an internal rod to the base which makes the hair stand on end in a “shocking” fashion when placed on an electrostatically charged table.  This delightfully frightful object is the quirky invention of Professor Patrick Copland (1748 – 1822). As a professor of philosophy and mathematics Professor Copland used the gruesome Head of Despair to demonstrate, to his unwitting students, the phenomenon of static electricity.

The Head of Despair

The Head of Despair

The Head of Despair will be on display in King’s Museum until 1st November. Come see this creepy doll in person! King’s Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 11.30am – 4.30pm


About uoamuseums

The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the University's Zoology Museum. The museums can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. Thanks to their status as a Recognised Collection of national significance, the Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved, while King's Museum hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections, particularly those formerly in Marischal Museum. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the museums, and there are no charges for admission. Marischal College now houses the Museums Collections Centre, caring for and conserving many of the collections.
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