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.

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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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Transformations #MMClimateControl

Nothing ever stays the same, things are always changing be it our Museum displays, our cities and towns, or the natural world around us.

The next part of our #MMClimateControl Social Media campaign in the lead up to our Climate Control exhibition is looking at how the world has changed in the past and what changes might look like in the future.

So please help us raise awareness of Climate Change by sharing your pictures and stories of how things have changed over time using #MMClimateControl

Do you remember what Manchester used to be like, or public transport in the 1980S? What were you favorite clothes when you were teenager? What did you think the future would be like when you were a kid?

Harry Braezenor sitting on the Museum's Sperm Whale 1898 and the Whale today

Harry Braezenor sitting on the Museum’s Sperm Whale 1898 and the Whale today

Sperm Whale

Museum collections can give us a fantastic glimpse into the past for everything from Ancient Egypt, to 300million year old fossil plants and the humble Peppered Month. We will be exploring some of these stories in the coming weeks and months, so please join in!

 

 

Follow that star/meteorite!

We’ve just installed a fantastic new meteorite handling table and video. The objects include pieces of the Moon and Mars which you can actually touch. Paige Tucker has put together a great video of me talking about the meteroites.

This project has been in partnership with colleagues at the Open University and was funded by an EPSRC public engagement grant.

Great New Citizen Science project to record our fossils

We have a fantastic new Citizen Science project to record our fossils called Reading Nature’s Library!

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The idea is to put lots of photographs of our collection online so that anyone can help us record the information. It’s really easy to do and helps make the collection available to everyone. So please have a go! There is a leader board and you can share your images with friends and family. Some are more tricky to read than others, so we have included a help option via social media.

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This project has been put together by a brilliant MSc student from the School of Computer Science Rob Dunne. We have a team of volunteers who are working really hard to photograph our fossils and we hope to put other collections online very shortly.

Reading Nature’s Library is part of our new hands on collections gallery The Study which opens in September.

Snow spiders, shrimps and migration of Ice Age animals

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