Month: May 2013

Collection Bites: Think•Eat•Save

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Allotment veg
June 5th 1.05-2pm
Please book on 0161 275 2648 or as spaces are very limited.

This months Collection Bites will focus on the fantastically diverse botany collection and will be lead by its Curator Rachel Webster. As June 5th is World Environment Day Rachel will take its theme of Think•Eat•Save, focusing on food sustainability, sharing stories about the objects from the botanical collections which are used to promote sustainability and their links with the Museum allotment project and the Living Worlds gallery.

Collection Bites is a lunchtime conversation series which invites a different speaker each month to take a closer look at objects in the Museum. It is part of the work of the Collections Study Centre which is open to everyone wanting to carry out research, draw or just get a little bit closer to the collection.
More information can be found here:
To make an appointment please email

Nothwest connections

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We have had a a new display installed in the Museum foyer this week. It was curated by the Manchester Museum’s Senior Youth Board and it reflects their interpretation of our Collecting Trees theme. Called ‘Northwest to Northwest; Forest to Metropolis’, this installation is inspired by the historic trade in red cedarwood from British Columbia to the Manchester via Canada Docks in Salford.

Case of objects from the Prosser collection

They have used this theme to make links between the Living Cultures and Zoology collections through wooden objects of Native American art and the animals represented therein. We’d love to hear what you think about it; if you’re visiting soon, please leave us a comment on our special postcards.

Killer whale representation on wooden panel

Looping and Linking

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Tomorrow (Saturday 11th May, 1:30pm) we have the final herbarium tour in the public programming for the ‘Looping and Linking’ exhibition (ending 26th May).

Inspired by the life and works of Scottish outsider artist Angus MacPhee this has been an exciting project in conjunction with the Whitworth Art Gallery and has featured the fantastic stage production of Angus’ life by the Horse and Bamboo theatre company, the replica stage props of Angus’ work produced by artist Joanne B Karr (display of her technique in the Whitworth Aft Gallery cafe), weaving workshops with artists Joanne B Kaar and Lucy Burscough and creative word workshops with the poet Tony Curry.

With a focus on art and men’s health, the workshops have been drop-in public events, sessions with young people in a local library and sessions with groups such as Out in the City and the resulting large piece of art work is on display in the courtyard of the Manchester Museum, and every now and again the tree will speak to you! I particularly like the leaf shapes displaying words inspired by the story of Angus MacPhee’s life which follow the seasonal changes in leaf colour from spring to autumn as they progress along the fence.

Biodiversity on the road to Jodrell

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Today the city centre-based members of the University’s Biodiversity Working Group hit the road to head out of the city and into Cheshire to hold a meeting at Jodrell Bank. Although home to the University of Manchester’s Centre for Astrophysics, the world famous Lovell telescope and a Discovery centre to explore the science of space, we were heading there to talk to Becky Burns, the Head of Gardens and Interpretation.

Lovell telescope

After all, it’s only fair that we should make the effort to visit Becky in her workplace from time to time instead of asking her to travel to us for meetings. The Biodiversity Working Group meets to discuss opportunities to increase the biodiversity on the campus of the University of Manchester and at about 35 acres, the Jodrell Bank arboretum is one of the University’s biodiversity hotspots. The arboretum holds two national Collections of Sorbus (whitebeam) and Malus (ornamental crab apples) trees, and with the late spring this year it is just about ready to burst into a profusion of blossom.

Fernery with bluebells So many lovely trees! The Galaxy Garden  Lovely new interpretation for the gardens

Visiting Jodrell wasn’t the only excitement of the day however, as this week the University was loaned a Nissan Leaf electric car and we were lucky enough to be allowed to use it to travel between sites. Qutie a number of Manchester’s buses are now hybrid diesel-electric, but this was my first experience of a fully electric car and it was pretty comfortable as well as having very green credentials. It was also just so quiet!

 Nissan LEAF in the old quad  Emma Gardner, Lucy Millard, Henry McGhie, Rachel Webster  Inside a silent car Couldn't resist the tulips in the old quad!

Breaking News on our Mystery Botanist

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Earlier this year we posted a photograph of a portrait we found in a box of paperwork at the back of the herbarium. It clearly shows a Victorian botanist – but which one? We speculated that it might look like Richard Buxton, who was a very interesting and impressive self-taught naturalist, but we now have another contender.
Richard Buxton

Christine Walsh (one of our dedicated team of herbarium volunteers) came across a picture of Joseph Evans (1803 – 1874), botanist and herbal doctor from Boothstown. There’s a biography of him on this site, and I have to say, he looks very like our mystery man. What do you think?