Reaching new heights with collecting: Everest specimen

I’m excited to say we have reached new heights with our collection: we’ve acquired a rock fragment from Mount Everest!

The fragment was donated by Nobel Prize winner Professor Andre Geim, who was given it by David Tait MBE, who has climbed Everest five times raising money for the NSPCC.

Mount Everest from the south
By Anju Sherpa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I think I’d be the first to admit that it is not the most spectacular looking specimen in the collection, but it definitely trumps everything on location and effort put in to collecting it. I’ve been in touch with David Tait to thanks him and ask about where it was collected. He said that it was from the ‘upper reaches’ of Mount Everest and he apologised for it being quite small!

The geology of Mount Everest is quite interesting and as our rock is a Schist rather than the Ordovician Limestone, it can’t quite be from the very top.

The best paper I’ve found is: SEARLE, M., SIMPSON, R., LAW, R., PARRISH, R., & WATERS, D. (2003). The structural geometry, metamorphic and magmatic evolution of the Everest massif, High Himalaya of Nepal-South Tibet Journal of the Geological Society, 160 (3), 345-366  DOI: 10.1144/0016-764902-126

We are currently developing activities and displays for our Courtyard Project which will include our South Asia Gallery in partnership with the British Museum. So a piece of Mount Everest will be a fantastic way of helping tell the story of the geological history of the region.

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Gold!

Christmas at Manchester Museum

goldGold in quartzite. Geology Collection, Manchester Museum.

Gold – A Gift for a King

A Christian association with gold is the gift the three kings gave to Jesus in recognition of his kingship –

“and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:1–2, 11).

the-three-wise-kings-atlas-catalan-1375-fol-v-980x498.pngThe Three Wise Kings – detail from the Catalan Atlas, 1375. Image from springfieldmuseums.org.

Gold is universally considered one of the great earthly treasures and an appropriate gift for rulers throughout history due to its rarity and purity.  The chieftains of pre-Colombian America interpreted its dazzling yellow colour as enchanted with protective powers captured from the sun god, wrought armour from the soft malleable stuff, which of course proved deceptive in battle.  Heavenly associations with gold are repeated…

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Marie Stopes: Social Reformer, Palaeobotanist and… Artist

Guest blog by Clare Debenham, Honorary Researcher at Manchester Museum

Marie Stopes was the first woman science lecturer at what is now the University of Manchester. She went on to be controversially a sexual revolutionary and birth control pioneer.

What is not widely known is that she was also a talented artist. This illustration of a Cycad comes from her book:

Cycad illustration from Ancient Plants, Marie Stopes 1910

We’ve recently discovered this unsigned water colour, found in the Botany collection at Manchester Museum, which may also be her work.

Cycad painting possibly by Marie Stopes. It shows some differences from her illustration above, but dates from the time Marie Stopes was working at Manchester University.

Maximising impact with Social Media: Top Tips

Myself (@paleoManchester) and Rachel Webster (@aristolochia) recently talked about maximising impact of exhibitions with social media at the Museums Association conference in Manchester.

 

Here are our top tips!

  • Be passionate and positive: show off your exhibition
  • Make everybody’s day better
  •  Include pictures on all posts, especially of people having fun
  • Post regularly to ensure a lively feed
  •  Include your # and other people’s
  • Jump on # bandwagons if it works
  • Tag other people who you think will re-post even celebrities
  • Use analytics to learn what content and time works for you
  • Always promote # at events/conferences/openings
  • Re-post relevant content, ‘like’ other’s posts, respond, follow people
  • Keep an eye out for new trends or initiatives and try something new (e.g. Periscope)
  • Have a presence in your exhibition: prompt people and promote your #

And here’s some further reading:

Russel Dornan’s article in Medium on museum personalities

Mar Dixon’s blog

Opportunities and case studies on the MA website: Social Media Trends and Social Media strategy

Useful Hashtags from the Natural Science Collections Association

Do’s and don’ts from MuseumHack

Think you know dinosaurs? Think again…

Most people are familiar with the dinosaur Velociraptor from the blockbuster film Jurassic Park. Represented in the film as a scary reptile, our understanding of Velociraptors are transformed by a recent discovery. 

Palaeontologists have recently found a close cousin of the Velociraptor that lived in China 125 million years ago showing spectacular preserved feathers. Named Zhenyuanlong suni, the fossil remains of the dinosaur suggest it is unlikely it could fly evidenced by the size of its wings and its feathers were probably used for display. The discovery of Zhenyuanlong suni is important because it changes our understanding of what dinosaurs looked like.

Fossil remains of Zhenyuanlong suni. Credit: Junchang Lu

Manchester Museum, part of the University of Manchester has the model on loan from Studio Liddell. Created by Peter Minister, the new model now on display, shows how our view of dinosaurs has been transformed.

The model of the Velociraptor is a taster of what is to come as Manchester Museum prepares for a blockbuster dinosaur exhibition. This is part of a new exhibition programme which is being planned as part of the museum’s expansion titled The Courtyard Project. Subject to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, work will commence on The Courtyard Project in August 2018 and will comprise of a larger temporary exhibition space, new entrance, improved visitor facilities and a South Asia Gallery in partnership with The British Museum.

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Object Lessons

An exhibition of stunning scientific models and illustrations now at Manchester Museum

The object-rich exhibition looks at this incredible collection through themes such as Craftsmanship, the Teaching Museum and the Microscopic. It combines George’s collection with the best models and illustrations from Manchester Museum and World Museum, Liverpool.

The beautiful objects blurred the boundaries between art and science and brought together the world’s leading scientists and most accomplished craftsmen. They reflect a moment in time when scientific discovery was rapidly developing, but technology could not keep up with techniques to record such findings.

To make sense of the exhibition we have split the displays into seven themes:

Craftsmanship features the highly-acclaimed Blaschka glass models, created by German glassworkers Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf.

In Understanding the Body models are used to explore the shape, movement and function of the body. A life-size papier-mâché anatomical wild turkey sits alongside an exploded cod skull and early German models used to teach the bite of a rattlesnake.

Recording the Extraordinary focuses on unusual things that are difficult to describe in words. Early illustrations of the Aurora Borealis, sit alongside a plaster moon crater and a globe of the stars. 

Exaggerated papier-mâché flowers and an Edwardian pop-up human anatomy book form part of Looking Inside.

Teaching Museum takes an overarching look at the context in which these models were created. Highlights include Japanese teaching scrolls from 1843 and wax fruits.

Minute details of plants and animals, as well as microscopic creatures are on display in Revealing the Microscopic including Early French flea photographs and models of pollen and penicillin.

Framing Time Some of the first illustrations of the Grand Canyon from the 1870s are shown alongside early reconstructions of long extinct fossils.

 We are also running a conference alongside the exhibition: Unlocking the Vault

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Unearthed

Dear Reader,

My name is Megan Jones, I am a university student studying photography in my last year of education. I have been lucky enough to collaborate with Manchester Museum, in order to create my final year project. For this project I explored the mineral archives within the Earth Science Department in Manchester Museum. My projects purpose was to open the doors to the hundreds of hidden artefacts that are kept behind the scenes at Manchester Museum. As we all know there is no way that everything can be displayed at the same time so a lot of the artefacts go unseen by the thousands of visitors that come to Manchester Museum.

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With over 17,000 minerals in the museums collection I set out photographing as many as possible the projects main intentions were to expose as much as possible therefore I could share the experience I have had exploring the mineral archives. I wanted to push the boundaries that surround museums, how our visits are censored even if we do not realise the museum is deciding what we get to see and what we do not.

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By photographing minerals from the archive I have allowed myself to reproduce the minerals taking them out of their intended aura to create something completely different a reproduction with a different importance by it being a photograph this is something that can be reproduced and reproduced time after time in contrast with the originals locked away behind closed doors, therefore the importance of the images is very different in comparison to the minerals within the museum. My aim was to expose these beautiful minerals to the public allowing them to view the museum as I do, a place that people become inspired, mesmerised and captivated by the beauty one building holds.

unearthed

If anyone would like to see more of my work and my classmate’s final year projects, we would like to invite you all to our exhibitions. Leaf Portland Street Manchester M1 6DW 16th until June 23rd June and also Tuesday 4th July until Saturday 15th July at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery SK3 8AB.

Thank you or taking the time to read about my project any questions please comment below!

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