Month: May 2014

Lunchtime From War of Nature talk – Parasitic plants – friends or foes?’

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Yellow Rattle (photo by J. Rowntree)

Museum Meets

Join Dr Jenny Rowntree for our lunchtime talk for the From the War of Nature exhibition. Jenny’s talk ‘Parasitic plants – friends or foes?’

The talk begins at 1pm on Friday 30 May and takes place in the Kanaris Theatre in the Manchester Museum.

About 1% of all flowering plants are parasitic on other plants. This means that they grow into and obtain all or some of their nutrients (or food) from other plants. Some parasitic plants are well known, and have cultural significance such as mistletoe. Others are important agricultural pests that can reduce the productivity of crops. Although parasitic plants always have a negative effect on the plants they infect, some species can have positive effects on the community as a whole. Yellow rattle, for example, a common species of meadows and grasslands in the UK, is used as a conservation tool to restore species rich grasslands as…

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Collection Bites and Lunchtime talks for From the War of Nature

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Museum Meets

Wed May 7 – Collection Bites: From the War of Nature 1-2pm, Manchester Museum ,

Join Henry McGhie, Head of Collections and Curator of Zoology, as he explores some of the extraordinary ways in which animals have negotiated the conflict that exists between them, using specimens from the Museum collection as a basis for discussion. He will also explore ‘speciesism’, treating different species in different ways, and how we think of ourselves as part of the natural world.

Book on 0161 275 2648 or museum, adult, free

Kestral: From the War of Nature @Paul Cliff

And the details of the lunchtime talks linked with the exhibition have been announced.

Friday 16th May, 1-2pm: Dr Sheena Cruickshank will be investigating the hygiene hypothesis and whether there is a link between parasites and allergies.

Friday 23th May, 1-2pm: Marco Smolla will look into the world of social insects and the value of…

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Re-arranging the medicine cabinet….

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The herbarium possesses a wealth of botanical specimens in a special collection called the Materia Medica. The Materia Medica collection houses a huge variety of plant derivatives that were used in Victorian times for their therapeutic benefits. Stored in a confusing order in awkward cupboards in a room seldom visited, the collection was in need of a re-organisation. Each sample is stored in a glass jar. On each glass jar is a number in sharpie pen, this number represents the family the plant is a member of, using the Bentham & Hooker system of ordering. Previously the collection was ordered by what the sample was. For example there would be a shelf for seed samples, rhizomes, cortex samples, leaves etc. This system didn’t make much sense for a person who wanted to view all of the parts of one plant, or one genus of plant. This led to us deciding it would be best to do a complete overhaul of the system of ordering and start anew.

single jar  shelf left  shelf right

The first task in the project was to clear the cupboards of all of the samples. One morning Jamie the apprentice, Bernard the volunteer and I emptied the cupboards. Using the numbers written on the jars, we placed samples from the same family together on some temporary shelving. 578 jars of samples later and we had finally cleared the cupboards.
The next task was to write down what exactly was in each jar. What the sample was, the common name of the plant, the plant’s Latin name etc. This data is to be entered into a spreadsheet so that when people want to look specific items in the collection they will know where it is located or if there are any other parts of the plant in the collection. We will the re-house the collection back into the cupboards in the new order.

table   lists

Whilst the advent of modern medicine means the samples in the Materia Medica are no longer widely used, the samples are fascinating. The collection includes items such as: Poppy seeds (Papaver somniferum), Acacia Gum (Acacia sp.), Red Sandal Wood (Pterocarpus santalinus) , Grains of Paradise (Amomum melegueta) & Dragon’s Blood (Calamus draco).

red sandalwoodDragon's blood resinparadise grains

Blog post by Josh, FLS placement student

After Hours: Survival – Thursday 22 May

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Museum Meets

After Hours: Survival

Thurs, May 22 at 6.30-9pm

Manchester Museum

Encounter the unexpected at Manchester Museum…

Artists, scientists, filmmakers, writers and musicians animate our collections in special one-off performances. Enjoy a highlights tour of the exhibition, see and handle some amazing objects from the Museum’s stores and join us for an evening that explores relationships in nature.

See artwork and installations from students from Stockport College’s Arts, Design and Media department which have been inspired by the museum and exhibition. Over the past four years, the Arts, Design and Media department at Stockport College has forged a reciprocal relationship with Manchester Museum, taking creative inspiration from its rich resources and producing visual material for display in the museum and beyond.

Drop-in, adult, free

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