Migration of people and minerals to Manchester Christmas Market


SPNHC 2014 conference, Cardiff

For the last few days I’ve been at the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections conference in Cardiff. A joint conference with NatSCA and GCG.

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It has been great to hear about how different museums (particularly some of the American museums) use their collections and tackle mass documentation in new and exciting ways.

One of the first talks I went to was about the Smithsonian’s Q?rius collections centre. They moved and boxed around 6000 specimens for public engagement and used a traffic light system to guide handling and access.

The other talks I was excited about were the mass digitisation projects. Paris Natural History Museum have done some amazing work digitising millions of their herbarium sheets. They used a conveyor belts system and got much of their data from crowd sourcing the data from images of their specimens they had put on line!

I was most excited by the talk from staff at the Field Museum in Chicago. They have been doing mass digitisation of their Silurian fossil collection using student interns and images on KeEMU. Lots of exciting parallel with Manchester, so mass digitisation here I come!

My only slight gripe from the conference was that many of the talks about collections use focussed on scientific research. Museums are about so much more than that.

It was great to meet lots of natural science people and catch up with what ‘s going on around the world. Congratulations to Paolo who is the new NatSCA chair.

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Myslef, Donna Young and Jack Ashby

Sorting Howie mineral specimens

Zussman visits Howie minerals

IMG_0334I had the privilege of meeting Jack Zussman a couple of weeks ago.

As you may know from my previous posts, we’ve recently acquired Robin Howie’s mineral collection here at the Museum. It is a fantastic collection, but doesn’t have a lot of information with it. Who better to turn to than the last remaining of the famous Deer, Howie and Zussman trio, Jack Zussman?

Jack Zussman, still has an office in the University and was more than happy to help.

It was great to hear his stories about his good friend Robin Howie. My favorite story was about the gemstone talks he used to give: Towards the end of his talk he used to reach under a table and emerge wearing a replica of the crown jewels which he then wore for the rest of the evening. He sounds like a very entertaining man!

Here’s a selection of my favorites from his collection:





Fluorite egg

Fluorite egg

Native Copper

Native Copper

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.

National Museum of Scotland visit

Hello everyone, not done a post in a little while as I’ve been really busy with things for the new Nature’s Library gallery which will open in spring next year. Exciting stuff!

As part of the research for the new displays I’m visiting a few museums to see what they’ve been up to recently. I started off with the National Museum of Scotland‘s fabulous new displays.

What I really liked:

  • beautiful object rich displays, with spectacular objects (especially the taxidermy)
  • Objects on open display, with ‘find out more’ touch-screens
  • object rich mineral cases that let the visitors get really close to what they are looking at
  • bite size story lines on panels inside the cases
  • the simple way the objects were mounted on rods that came out the back of the cases
  • the mix of objects from different collection areas in the cases

Well worth a visit next time you are in Scotland!

The Fossils Gallery and collection

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