To mark our selection as a Finalist in the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015 we’re embarking on a unique and ambitious tour of the country – the Dodo Roadshow.
Beginning at Land’s End on 8 June and concluding in John O’Groats one week later, the famous Oxford Dodo will visit more than 20 museums and galleries along the way. At each stop the Dodo will ‘interview’ one of the venue’s star objects.
Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery: Sir Roger the Elephant
So, tell me about yourself – who are you and where do you come from?
My name is Sir Roger and I’m a male Asian elephant. I may have come from India, but I’m not sure. I used to travel with Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie, pulling a wagon as we travelled all round Britain during the 1880s and early 1890s. I came to Glasgow in 1897, when my owner, Edward Henry Bostock decided to set up the Scottish Zoo and Variety Circus in Glasgow.
What is it that makes you so special?
I’m one of the museum’s largest and most iconic animals. Everybody loves me.
Who looks after you in this place?
I’m looked after by the museum’s natural history conservator, Laurence Simmen. He gives me a clean from time to time, and makes sure I look my best. When the museum was closed for three years for refurbishment, I spent the whole time in a big crate (I was one of only a few objects to remain in the building). During this time, Laurence would check the crate to make sure I was alright.
Do you remember life before the museum?
When I was in the Scottish Zoo, I used to be taken out for walks in the countryside for exercise. The zoo wasn’t like modern ones. The cages were very small, and there was very little room to move around. I enjoyed my time there – young boys used to feed me buns! Unfortunately in December 1900, I developed musth – a condition of male elephants during the breeding cycle. This was very painful and I was so uncomfortable, that I wouldn’t let anyone near me. Mr Bostock was worried that I might injure somebody, and unfortunately by accident I did hurt my keeper. Eventually Mr Bostock very reluctantly decided I must be shot – which is how I ended up here in Kelvingrove Museum.
What does the future hold for you?
The gallery I’m in hasn’t been changed since Kelvingrove re-opened in 2006 after its refurbishment. The museum is hoping to change all the displays around about me next year. I might move to a different position, but I’ve been assured that I’ll still be here for everyone to visit – and maybe someone will offer me a bun again!