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Cast Away: The Museum Edition Part 1

30 July 2020

Imagine the scene – the storm rages, the waves crash down, and your small boat is sinking fast. Quick, what would you grab to take with you as you start swimming to that nearby desert island? We asked Victoria Cosgrove, a curatorial consultant from 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum whose work strives to explore the Olympic Games and its legacies, this question and gave her the luxury of picking three essential objects from the museum’s collection. Read more about her top picks in the first of our new series, Cast Away: The Museum Edition. 

OBJECT 1: HORSEBACK ARCHERY BOW

 

Horseback Archery Bow, displayed in the Global History of Sport Gallery at the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum Image © QOSM 2020
Horseback Archery Bow, displayed in the Global History of Sport Gallery at the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum Image © QOSM 2020

Victoria began by telling us about her first desert island essential. “One object that I would definitely bring to a desert island is the horseback archery bow from our Global History of Sport Gallery. This wood and horn composite recurve bow [a bow with limbs] is a little more than a meter long. The curves of the bow are more pronounced than you might see in modern recurve bows. The handle of the bow has a deep concave curvature with more prominent curves close to its center. 

It has a fluid feel to it, which is quite beautiful but also contributes to the bow’s functionality. Having a bow in an unknown desert [island] environment would definitely come in handy when it comes to sourcing food. It would allow you to hunt for your own meats and even shallow water fish. It might also come in handy with accessing tree-top fruits, depending on how good your aim is! Plus, archery is a great form of exercise for both the body and the brain, it would be a great way to keep yourself busy if you were all alone on an island. 

Sourcing material and making arrows (if I ran out or wasn’t able to bring any) also engages your creativity and critical thinking skills. Finding the right materials and working with them in a way that they produce an arrow that meets your needs would definitely make you look at the island with a new perspective. [It] would make you appreciate the different qualities of natural resources you might not normally think about. 

Coming from the Sports Museum, a lot of our objects have a very practical use. They are both beautiful and functional, which is absolutely the case with this bow.” 

OBJECT 2: SOUTH ITALIAN BRONZE STRIGIL 

 

South Italian Bronze Sigil, displayed in the Olympic Gallery at the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum Image © QOSM 2020
South Italian Bronze Sigil, displayed in the Olympic Gallery at the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum Image © QOSM 2020

Having taken care of her need to eat, Victoria went on to consider the importance of desert island hygiene. “Another object that I would bring with me is a bronze strigil from the 4th century BCE that is in our Olympic Gallery. The strigil, or scraper, is a curved bronze tool that was used in antiquity by athletes as a part of their hygiene routine. They would apply oil to their skin and use the strigil’s blade to scrape away the dirt. The one in our collection has a smooth, rectangular handle that leads to a curved blade, in the Roman style.

In a situation where I might not be able to get soap very easily, the strigil would definitely be on my list of things I would want to have. It would allow you to keep yourself clean, and since bronze is a very durable material, it would last for a long time.” 

OBJECT 3: SUPERMAN V MUHAMMAD ALI COMIC 

With practical requirements taken care of, Victoria turned to the challenge of keeping herself entertained. “The third and last object I would bring with me to the desert island is quite different from the first two. It’s a comic book from our Hall of Athletes titled “Superman v. Muhammed Ali”, from DC Comics. 

The cover of the comic book shows Muhammed Ali and Superman in a boxing ring squaring off to see who would become Earth’s Champion to fight the Star-Warriors. The comic book was published in 1978 when comic books were exploring darker and more daring themes than the Golden Age comic books that launched comics into the mainstream. This comic – which stars the pinnacle of Golden Age comic book superheroes and a real-life super athlete – has a playful nod to older comic book styles and themes, while still engaging with topics that were at the forefront of people’s minds at the time of publication.

 

Superman v. Muhammd Ali DC comic, displayed in the Hall of Athletes Gallery at the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum  Image © QOSM 2020
Superman v. Muhammd Ali DC comic, displayed in the Hall of Athletes Gallery at the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum Image © QOSM 2020

As someone who really enjoys pop art and comic books, this was an easy choice for me. Having something fun and fantastical to escape into would be a source of comfort if I was alone on an island. And having something as visually engaging as a comic book around would exercise my imagination, and bring some fun to a situation that could be pretty lonely otherwise. 

Plus, reading the comic and playing the games that were often included, like “how many celebrities can you spot in this picture”, colouring by numbers, and riddles, helps to engage different parts of the brain. More than anything, though, I would love to find some shade on the island and read exactly how Superman and Muhammed Ali managed to defeat the Star-Warriors!”                               

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For more information about the upcoming public opening of the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, head on over to the website and don’t miss out on the chance to get involved with the Museum through their social media activities. You can tune in every day at 2 pm to @321qosm on Instagram and Facebook for exciting content and fitness videos with top Olympic athletes, nutritious recipes, and more! 

Stay tuned for more posts from our series, Cast Away: The Museum Edition. 

 

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