Gneiss new to the collection from beautiful Bhutan #MMCourtyard

We have a new rock in the collection which will help us tell the story of the formation of the Himalayan mountain chain. We are currently developing activities and displays for our Courtyard Project which will include our South Asia Gallery in partnership with the British Museum.

Byron Adams and Frances Cooper  very kindly collected the rock for us on a recent trip to Bumthang, Bhutan where they have been studying the interactions between tectonics climate and surface processes. This is our first rock from Bhutan and it is a stunningly beautiful part of the world.

Bumthang (which means ‘Beautiful field’), Bhutan 2912m above sea level. Image taken by Byron Adams.

The rock is an example of Augen Gneiss (Augen from the German for ‘eyes’) which forms  in extremely high pressure and temperature environments during mountain building. The Augen are the lens-shaped white Plagioclase Feldspar crystals seen in image below.

White lens-shaped augen of Plagioclase Feldspar crystals in layers of black mica

This rock joins our recent acquisition of a piece of Mount Everest piecing together story of the geological history of the region.

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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.

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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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.

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