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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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!

 

 

Memories of snow #MMClimateControl

Do you love snow as much as I do? Share the joy with us using #MMClimateControl

I just love the incredible sense of transformation when the first flakes start falling and the world around us looks utterly different!

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We are gathering memories of snow as part of the build up to:

Climate Control, A long British summer of exhibitions and events, May – October 2016.

Not only is snow amazing, but it could be a good indicator of how our climate is changing. Do you remember more snow when you were a kid? Were you around in the particularly snowy years of 1947 or 1963? Share your memories with us and get involved!

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The program is part of European City of Science, developed with Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre and Manchester: A Certain Future.

Follow #MMClimateControl to get involved

Climate Control, A long British Summer of exhibitions and events #MMClimateControl

We hear about climate change on the news and in the newspapers. How the ice caps are melting and how it is happening now. What can we do about climate change, individually and collectively? Is it too late? Is there any point trying? What do people want to do?

Climate change is happening all around us, but this isn’t the time to ignore it, it’s the time to get really creative. What thoughts or ideas do you have? What do you already do in your day to day life, and what might you think about doing?

Manchester Museum will be staging a series of exhibitions and events for visitors to explore climate change from May-September 2016. There will be opportunities to share your thoughts and ideas, to think about what a different future might look like, and what each of us might want to do to help make that a reality.  Look out for amazing Polar Bears and other Arctic wildlife, Peppered Moths, tropical frogs, opportunities to rebuild a model Manchester and a wide range of events and activities for all ages and interests

The program is part of European City of Science, developed with Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre and Manchester: A Certain Future.

Follow #MMClimateControl to get involved

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.

Story telling at the La Brea Tar Pits

One of the reasons I wanted to visit The La Brea Tar Pits was to see how they tell the story of animals in the Last Ice Age.

Most of their displays are fairly traditional and date from the 1970s, but include some really spectacular specimens. One of the things I really liked was the wall of wolf skulls. It reminded me of Manchester Museum’s Nature’s Library gallery and really hammered home the dominance of predators at La Brea.

Mass display of Dire Wolf skulls

Mass display of Dire Wolf skulls

The really innovative thing at the museum is the ‘fish bowl’ lab. It was one of the first museums to pioneer the meet the scientist type of display. Visitors clearly found it really interesting, but it did still present a barrier between the visitor and the scientists.

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Alongside the displays were and army of dedicated volunteers and staff giving tours and doing object handling using casts. They were great at bringing the fossils to life, but I was a bit disappointed that the object handling did not use any real objects, missing an opportunity there.

Volunteer showing off her cast of a  Sabretoothed Cat

Volunteer showing off her cast of a Sabretoothed Cat

Where The La Brea Tar Pits comes in to its own is the on site excavation and interpretation. New material is being discovered every day, which is clearly very exciting. Daily tours give visitors the opportunity to meet the people excavating the fossils from the tar and make the experience really dynamic.

Project 23 excavation

Project 23 excavation

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Board detailing that day’s discoveries

This had clearly been thought through and the people we spoke to on my tour were really great at simply explaining what they were doing, what they had found and why it was important. My only slight thing was that it was a bit of a shame it was all done across a high security fence, but I guess this is an issue lots of museums in parks have to try and resolve.

The La Brea Tar Pits is an incredible place and is one of the finest places in the world to learn about Ice Age animals. It should be on everyone’s bucket list!

I would like to thank The Art Fund, Ruffer Curatorial Grants scheme for generously funding this research trip.

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