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!

Object Lessons exhibition: coming soon

For the past few months I’ve been working on a really exciting exhibition opening on the 20th of May: Object Lessons

#MMObjectLessons

Blaschka Portugese man o’war.  Image courtesy of Rosamond Purcell

Blaschka Portugese man o’war.
Image courtesy of Rosamond Purcell

Object Lessons celebrates the scientific model and illustration collection of George Loudon. Each of these finely crafted objects was created for the purpose of understanding the natural world through education, demonstration and display.

The object-rich exhibition will look at this incredible collection through themes such as Craftsmanship, the Teaching Museum and the Microscopic.

George’s collection will be displayed alongside stunning models from Manchester Museum and World Museum, Liverpool.

Brendel plant models.  Image curtesy of Rosamond Purcell

Brendel plant models.
Image courtesy of Rosamond Purcell

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A busy week of consulting!

Herbology Manchester

All the curators have been out and about over half term, in Manchester and beyond! We’re helping to spread the word about our new museum development plans. We want to hear what people think about our plans to build an extension to the Manchester Museum. It will house a new permanent gallery focusing on the history and culture of South Asia as well as a new exhibition space for host blockbuster shows. If you want to find out more, keep track of our progress on our Courtyard Project blog.

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Restoring the Geology gallery, Biddulph Grange

Thematic Collecting

We recently visited the amazing Geology gallery at Biddulph Grange to chat to Daniel Atherton about its restoration and development.

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‘Catch a Shooting Star’ – New Display at the Manchester Museum

Earth & Solar System

20151022_125044 Group member John and visitor Louise enjoying the new ‘Catch a Shooting Star’ touch table display. Image: KJoy

Ever wanted to put your hand on Mars, the Moon or an asteroid and can’t wait for commercial spaceflight to one day fly you there as a space tourist? Well imagine no longer, you can get your hands on amazing rocks from other worlds just by visiting Manchester (it might be a little rainier than the Moon though!).

There is now a great new meteorite touchable display at the Manchester Museum that has been developed by the Catch a Shooting Star team, led by our colleagues at the Open University. The exhibit, which has been funded by a public engagement grant by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, is the first permanent display in the UK where you can handle so many different types of meteorites and impact rocks in one…

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Shark and Ray fossils

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A fantastic collection of Shark, Ray and Chimaeroid teeth have recently been donated to the museum. The fossils are from the Eocene period, 53- 36 million years ago. Most of the fossils were collected from Reculver Bay and Herne Bay in Kent.

Sharks, rays and chimaeroids all belong to the well-established group known as Chondrichthyes or cartilaginous fishes.

These fishes have a skeleton of firm elastic tissue or cartilage rather than bone. Cartilage is flexible and durable yet is half the normal density of bone.

Sharks

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Otodus obliquus 

The existence of sharks extends back in time approximately 400 million years to the upper Devonian period.

The ancestors of modern sharks were the Placoderm group which through evolution had adapted the dermal denticals (scales) for use as primitive teeth.
Sharks have been successful over millions of years due to their ability to adapt to almost any feeding condition. Sharks have multiple rows of teeth which are constantly replaced throughout its lifetime.

Teeth are often the only part of the shark to be preserved so differences in teeth are the most important means of identifying fossil species.

Rays

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Myliobatis sp.

Rays feed on molluscs and crustaceans; they have tooth plates to crush shells. Although Manta ray, feed on plankton.

Their teeth grow constantly and old or worn teeth are discarded through the mouth or sometimes swallowed and partly digested in the stomach.

Chimaeras

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Elasmodus hunteri

Chimaeriformes are an order of cartilaginous fishes, informally named rabbit fish; they are cousins of rays and sharks. They feed on molluscs and have six permanent grinding tooth plates to crush their food.
Reference
Kemp, D.J. (1977) A brief illustrated account of the English Eocene Shark and Ray fossils. Gosport Museum.

 

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