Latest Event Updates

Manchester Herbarium’s grand re-opening!

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After a year of full closure while the Museum roof was rebuilt and about a further 5 years of disruption since the window replacement work began, we finally have the herbarium back up and running. So we thought it was high time to host a party to remind the rest of the Museum and the University’s plant scientists just how lovely our store room is.

We laid out examples of our current projects, some of our favourite objects and quirky things that we’ve come across while we’ve been sorting the place out. After everyone had explored the collection we all headed off to the staff room for some delicious botanically-themed cakes.

We should do this more often!

November Meeting!

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The Manchester Museum’s Senior Youth Board visit the herbarium.

Originally posted on Manchester Museum Youth Board:


Today the Youth Board was given a tour of the herbarium by Rachel Webster, the curator of Botany. We were shown the changes made to the area after flooding and building work and images from the hosting of the Alice in Wonderland tea party as part of the Manchester International Festival earlier this year. The Herbarium is the second largest collection in the museum and the possibly the best storage space for collection in the museum – however, we will be visiting the Entomology collection next month so we’ll see how it compares. We looked though the collection donated to the museum by Charles Bailey, James Cosmo Melvill, and Leo. H. Grindon, amongst others. The collection included botanical artefacts, pressed plants and illustrations. We were also shown books of dried plants created by Victorian amateurs called Exsiccatae which were intersecting pieces of social history. We continued up to the top…

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Rutherford’s Garden Energy Futures Interviews

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Originally posted on Museum Meets:

Energy Futures interview series

As part of the Rutherford’s Gardenarts/sciences collaborations research project (commissioned by The University of Manchester, artist/curator James Brady is conducting a series of one-to-one interviews with notable North West based researchers in the sciences and humanities. The broad theme is ‘Energy Futures’ and he will be talking to each person about their work and, in a wider context, their particular (professional and personal) positions on nuclear, fossil, and renewable energy. These interviews will be held in public at The Study, The Manchester Museum’s new research centre, during the Manchester Science Festival in October. The events are free and public are welcome to drop-in and listen. As a legacy, each interview will be recorded and subsequently made available online as a public resource.

Monday 19th October


Dr. Mike Dempsey

(Microbiologist, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Managing Director of Advanced Bioprocess Development…

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Great New Citizen Science project to record our fossils

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Originally posted on Palaeo Manchester:

We have a fantastic new Citizen Science project to record our fossils called Reading Nature’s Library!


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.


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…

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High Tea in Wonderland

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The last cake has been served and the last crumbs hoovered up. It’s been top secret, but now we can tell. Yes, we hosted a Manchester International Festival Event in the herbarium: High Tea in Wonderland. The lovely MIF staff transformed our little workspace into a world of quirk and wonder.
Before: Corridor with green boxes. An open box on the bench shows pressed plant specimens inside, in species folders

After: Queen of Hearts Garden Party, with playing card bunting. White crystallised rose petals to be painted red by the guests!

Before: plain green boxes

After: decorated with brown paper trees and leaves from old books, in the ‘Eat Me’ room


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Before: European vascular plant collection

After: 1,000 paper mushrooms, camo netting and birch fragrance

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Before: Volunteer Priscilla hard at work on a side bench

After: The same bench, piled high with MIF stuff


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Before: volunteer Paddy, remounting specimens on herbarium sheets

After: granny tat, bunting and pompoms



Before: plain green boxes

After: Chef Mary-Ellen Mc Tague serving rabbit pie (no boxes because of the blow torch)


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We had some lovely reviews:

manchester evening news

creative tourist

Did you go down the rabbit hole? What was your favourite bit?

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Graphene’s high-rise meadow

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Green roof on the roof terrace of the Graphene Institute

Back in June, perhaps some of the Graphene Week 2015 attendees spotted this little patch of wildness on the roof of the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester. This green roof was installed as the building was nearing completion in 2014 and is part of the commitment to improving the University’s campus as a habitat for wildlife. The University’s green roof policy can be found here, along with the other University policies about environmental sustainability.

Bee on Birdsfoot trefoil

Ahead of Graphene Week, the Biodiversity Working Group put together some information about pollinators, their requirements and the urban environment in order to have a sign in place for the delegates to read. This roof is particularly designed to attract bees, both wild bees and the honey bees from hives on roofs of the Manchester Museum and Whitworth Art Gallery.

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The roof was created with a ‘sedum and wildflower’ mat made up with 21 different species. The low-growing sedums are now most visible around the sloping edges of the meadow, and taller species seem to dominate towards the middle. However, perhaps that’s not true; the sedums may be just hidden by the taller growing plants.

Maiden pink flower

This summer, the Faculty of Life Sciences has arranged for a student to survey the roof to see how the plants are distributed.  The Biodiversity Working Group will be continuing to monitor the roof’s progress to see how the composition of plants changes from this baseline. Some plants are likely to thrive, some will struggle and other’s will arrive as seeds blow over the roof or fall off people’s clothing.

Ladybird pupa on Sedum reflexum

Say no to the mow!

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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching a patch of ground on my way to work. The soil is thin (I suspect it mainly consists of brick rubble) and consequently the grasses don’t grow very well. Instead it’s been growing a selection of plants with more insect-friendly flowers. Nothing rare or unusual, but a selection of wildflowers which thrive in an urban area and can attract plenty of pollinators.

Last week it was a foot tall, with red and white clover and buttercups already in flower. The buds of the oxeye daisies were getting ready to burst and the birdsfoot trefoil and common knapweed  and were growing vigorously. This week, it’s been mown. I was expecting it to be a riot of colour by the end of the week, but instead it’s a green desert.

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It already had a margin mown around the edge to allow visibility for traffic and a path through the middle to let people cut the corner. It’s near a busy road and no-one uses it as a lawn to sit or play games on. I think it would have been much better left to become a flower meadow over the summer (and the museum bees would certainly have liked it) and mown later in the season. I agree with Plantlife and Springwatch: ‘Say no to the mow’!