Come with us to Castleton on our geological day out!

The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, in association with Manchester Museum is running a field trip to Castleton, Derbyshire on the 15th of August. Why not come along?

If you bring along your smart-phone you can see the fantastic new app. we have developed over the last few months. It combines amazing information about what you are looking at with images of some spectacular fossils from the Museum’s collection.

Carboniferous crinoid

Carboniferous crinoid

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Brian Cox opens Nature’s Library!

Brian Cox opened the new Nature’s Library a few weeks ago now. It was really good of him to come and support our new gallery which has been the culmination of many  months work.

Nature’s Library is a celebration of the amazing objects in our natural science collections. We really wanted to get people excited about nature and show how the collection is used, from cutting edge research into endangered plants and animals to public events.

Come along and have a look at the gallery for yourself.

My day in conservation

I’m Hetti, a volunteer at Manchester Museum and recently I spent a day working in conservation to clean up some glass slides with thin sections of coal balls and fossilized wood. They had become very dirty sat in storage for a number of years and were being transferred into more suitable card trays lined with acid free tissue paper which will help to preserve them and keep them clean for years to come. Having them neatly stored also makes them much easier to find when they are needed in the future.

Slides before being cleaned and repackaged

Slides before being cleaned and repackaged

To clean them up the dirt and dust was removed with a tissue and then I used swabs dipped in a mix of water and methylated spirit to clean the glass and remove any dust and dirt remaining. I found it a very rewarding job to see the final results all cleaned up and easily accessible for anyone who wishes to use them in the future.

Slides after they have been cleaned and in their new boxes

Slides after they have been cleaned and in their new boxes

The Amazing Fossil Tree

Buxton Diamonds

I had an enquiry yesterday from Roy Starkey, the President of the Russell Society wanting to know if we had any ‘Buxton Diamonds’?

He explained they were actually small perfectly formed quartz crystals that were washed out of the soil around Buxton, Derbyshire back in the 1700 and 1800s.

After a bit of searching I found some:

'Buxton Diamonds' for 1873

It seems that they come from a place called Diamond Hill, here mentioned in an 1868 National Gazetteer article. They are probably recrystallised in the limestone.

It’s always really exciting to find such beautiful specimens in the collection. Roy Starkey’s research is ongoing, so I’ll let you know what else he finds.

Using the collection – Loans

A lot of the work we do in the museum is not seen by people who visit the galleries. Work such as helping with research, teaching and working with groups often goes unnoticed, so I thought I’d tell you about some loans I’ve sent out this week.

The first loan was some fossil pine cones and sea urchins to the staff at START. START do some fantastic work with groups of people on mental health and well-being.

Fossil pine cones borrowed for STAT workshop

We have previously worked on the Health Rocks trail around the museum and we have started a projects using the geology collection as inspiration for creative writing and drawing workshops.  This work has proved to make a real difference to people’s lives and is a great use of the collection.

The second loan is to a researcher in Lyon, France. Dr. Olivier Béthoux  contacted me this week to see if he could borrow some of our fossil insects to include in his research. The insects were originally from Trawden, Colne Lancashire and Rochdale and are about 300 milllion years old. They are internationally important.

It is great to get the collection used in this way as it adds a lot of value to the objects. The more we can find out about our objects, the better our displays and interpretation.

Fantastic conservation work!

Before I came to Manchester I’d never worked at a museum that had a conservation department. We always did our best with what we’d got, or sent objects to conservators.

Manchester Museum is very fortunate to have a wonderful conservation department and particularly Jenny does wonders with the natural history objects.

Specimen before repacking

Specimen after repacking

Yesterday, Jenny and her placement student returned an incredibly fragile fossil of an amphibian which I had asked them to repack. I wanted to transfer it from a box to a drawer so that it was more easily accessible. They have done a great job and ensured the object’s survival for many years to come!

Thanks Jenny!

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