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


Marie Stopes emerges from the stores after 104 years (a bit dirty, but otherwise fine)

I’ve been spending much of this week reorganising the geology stores. The main job is trying to work out a plan for moving the large geology specimens from our Oversize store downstairs to the basement so that we can use the objects more easily.

As you can see from the photo the Oversize store is rather full and the objects are difficult to get at. The first step is to move the smaller objects into new drawers.

The Oversize store

One job I’ve been putting off is sorting through some filthy bags of coal balls. Coal balls are concentrations of fossil leaves, stems and flowers from about 300 million years ago.

Coal balls before they were moved and repacked

Coal balls before they were moved and repacked

As I was sorting through the bags and putting the specimens in new bags and card trays, I came across some labels.

The labels turned out to be written by Marie Stopes (best known as a social reformer) who worked at the University as a geologist in the early 1900s. Her research on coal balls transformed our understanding of fossil plants. We have around 50 specimens collected by Marie Stopes, but until yesterday I did not know these existed.

They are now safely stored and documented ready for researchers and anybody else to look at them!

The coal balls in their new home

%d bloggers like this: