Month: January 2013

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Egypt at the Manchester Museum

Woodworking_NebamunWorking with wood in Ancient Egypt: a practical demonstration

In conjunction with our ‘Collecting Trees’ project and as part of our ‘Discover Archaeology’ Big Saturday on February the 9th, the Museum is delighted to host Dr. Geoffrey Killen, an expert on ancient Egyptian woodworking, who will demonstrate ancient craft techniques – LIVE! Watch Geoff use replica ancient Egyptian tools to make furniture, the Egyptian way. There will also be a chance to see Egyptian wooden items normally kept in storage.

 

 

 

Ancient Egyptian Woodworking

Saturday 9th February

11:30am and 2:30pm

Manchester Museum

ENTRY FREE

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Nineteenth Century Re-Use of Newspaper

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Hints for Amateurs on ordering seeds, from "The Gardening World", 1898
Hints for Amateurs on ordering seeds, from “The Gardening World”, 1898
Tea Basket & Dressing bag on sale from Drew & sones, advertised in "The Queen, the Lady's Newspaper", undated.
Tea Basket & Dressing bag on sale from Drew & Sons, advertised in “The Queen, the Lady’s Newspaper”, undated.
A box of vintage newspapers in the herbarium
A box of vintage newspapers in the herbarium
Story in which a worm helps a dissatisfied bluebell, from The Sunday School Standard, USA, undated
Story in which a worm helps a dissatisfied bluebell, from The Sunday School Standard, USA, undated
From "The Queen, The Lady's Newspaper" dated June 27, 1885
From “The Queen, The Lady’s Newspaper” dated June 27, 1885
To Sugar Refiners - For Sale, the patent for Papier-mache sugar moulds
To Sugar Refiners – For Sale, the patent for Papier-mache sugar moulds
French homework, dated February 11th 1826
French homework, dated February 11th 1826

Paper was precious and expensive in the mid 19th century, when many of our herbarium specimens were collected and pressed.  Some collectors re-used newspaper or letters as mounting paper for their pressed flowers.

We always keep a sheet of vintage newspaper once the plant specimen has been remounted onto new acid-free paper.  Above are some of the delightful examples of adverts, stories, and articles we have discovered while working on the collection here at the Manchester Museum.

There are many more, for a future blog post.

 

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More on collecting at the Manchester Museum……this time it’s in Entomology

Entomology Manchester

Some people may think that natural history museums deposit only old, historically and/or scientifically important collections. Although this is true, museums also continue to acquire new materials coming to them in various ways. In order just to give visitors an idea about how new collections can be acquired, here is a very brief report on new acquisitions made by the Manchester Museum’s Entomology department during the last five years, from January 2008 to December 2012.

A total of 66 acquisitions of 17,477 specimens have been received, as follows:

1.    Fieldwork (by the curator): 3 acquisitions of 368 specimens.

2.    Enquire-based acquisitions (usually via the identification service we provide): 10 acquisitions of 61 specimens.

3.    Acquisitions related to the public events that we support (Bioblitzes and others): 5 acquisitions of 112 specimens.

4.    Exchange: 1 acquisition of 121 specimens.

5.    Donations: 47 acquisitions of 16,815 specimens.

 Of the aforementioned…

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Treats of Turrialba

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Andrew Gray, the Curator of Herpetology, is currently in Costa Rica looking for suitable places for University of Manchester Life Sciences students to visit on a field course. He’s posted a photo of a beautiful Cattleya orchid flower on his FrogBlog. Check it out:  Treats of Turrialba.

Seed pod from a Cattleya orchid in the herbarium collection

These orchids are epiphytes (plants which grow on other plants) and there are lots of epiphytic plants in the tropics growing on the large trees. Xaali O’Reilly, a Zoology student fron the University of Manchester, is doing research on wildlife in the Ecuadorean rainforest and has some great posts about epiphytes on her blog. There are also some lovely epiphytes growing in the Manchester Museum vivarium, such as these bromeliads which collect water in the centre of the rosette and provide places for the frogs to breed.

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However, you don’t have to travel far to find yourself an epiphytic plant growing in a tree; there are plenty to be found in Manchester’s concrete jungle. Look out for mosses growing on tree bark and for ferns and small plants growing in places where leaf litter can collect and develop into soil (such as at the junction of the branches and the trunk). Dave Bishop from the Friends of Chorlton Meadows has spotted a species of Polypodium fern which seems to like to grow on the London plane trees planted along Manchester’s roads and park paths.

Epiphytes are easy to spot on deciduous trees at this time of year while they have no leaves. If you see someting interesting, why not let us know?

Epiphytic fern

  Mistletoe in Didsbury

Collecting trees

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The Museum is reviewing how we collect objects. We have a Victorian encyclopaedic collection but how do we make this collection and future acquisitions relevant in the 21st century and to present and future audiences?

We are looking at piloting a thematic collecting programme rather than a ‘filling the gaps’ way of collecting and have chosen the theme of trees. As trees have been important to the environment and human culture throughout the ages, this theme fits well to the two key aims of the Manchester Museum which are to promote understanding between cultures and to promote the development of a sustainable world. We plan to collect not only physical museum objects, but also information and photographs which tell the stories surrounding objects.

If you have something to say then we wold love to hear it, whether you want to tell us about your favourite tree, recommend objects for us to collect or to comment on our collecting programme. These are the questions we are asking people:

Any initial thoughts or comments?
What additional information should we collect with the objects?
What do you think the museum should be collecting for future audiences, visitors and researchers?
Would you like to see this theme running throughout the gallery exhibitions or just a framework that we use to collect?
Do you think this theme would be relevant to local audiences or do you have any suggestions for other themes?