Upcoming Exhibition: Object Lessons

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For the past few months I’ve been working on a really exciting exhibition opening on the 20th of May: Object Lessons #MMObjectLessons Object Lessons celebrates the scientific model and illustration collection of George Loudon. Each of these finely crafted objects was created for the purpose of understanding the natural world through education, demonstration and display. […]

via Object Lessons exhibition: coming soon — Palaeo Manchester

Siberia: At the Edge of the World Oct 2014 – Mar 2015

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Tonight is the private view for our latest temporary exhibition, Siberia, after months of hard work by Dmitri Logunov and David Gelsthorpe (who have curated it) and a final few furious weeks of activity by the team who have installed it (many thanks to the collections care and access team!). There are many beautiful objects on show, but I thought I’d show a little of the preparation which went into getting one of the botanical specimens ready for display.

Dmitri brought some examples of Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica) to the Museum which had been collected in the Novosibirsk Region of Russia in August 2013. After a spell in the herbarium freezer to ensure that there were no insect pests, Lindsey and I put in a box for safe keeping where they waited their turn for almost a year.

A box of Siberian pine specimens in assorted Russian carrier bags

A standard herbarium sheet didn’t really seem to do justice to the many pieces of tree we had acquired and as they were destined for display before incorporation into the herbarium we decided to arrange them on something bigger. We like to re-use display boxes from previous exhibitions to increase the sustainability of our displays. An acrylic box which had previously housed a stunning fan coral in the ‘Coral, something rich and strange’ seemed perfect.

With the possibilities of several branches and pine cones to choose from, mounting the specimens onto something stronger than paper also seemed like a good plan, so we asked paper conservator Dan Hogger if he could find us a suitably sized piece of cardboard. One of our regular volunteers, Christine, then tried out various bits and pieces for size to find an arrangement which looked attractive.

The plan, the tools, the card and the specimens – ready to go for it!

The task of attaching a small tree seedling, a small branch, a group of pine needles, 2 whole cones, one half eaten cone, one sectioned cone and a series of pine nuts on to the card then fell to Jemma (our placement student from Life Sciences) and myself. We decided that a combination of glue, tissue papers nests and sewing would do the job better than our standard method of gummed paper slips. We wanted to be thorough as this display is going to be attached vertically to the wall until March 2015 and I didn’t want to find myself taking it down for repairs every other week.

Jemma glueing tissue paper ‘nests’ to rest the pinecones in

Then the finished piece was off to conservation to be mounted onto the backing board, and down into the exhibition space to be hung in it’s place amongst the other flora and fauna of the taiga.

Mounted onto the backing board by conservator Jenny
Waiting for attention from the workshop team
Done! Bring on the opening!

Safn – Icelandic for museum (and collection)

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With a group of curators away on a trip together one thing is guaranteed – we’ll find some museums to visit!

Museum sign in Reydarfjorur (not been there yet!!)
Museum sign in Reydarfjorur


So one Icelandic word I’ve learnt is ‘safn’ meaning museum or collection.   We’ve visited a whole host of wonderful museum large and small since arriving in Iceland.

There was Arbaer open air museum with it’s beautiful architecture and really stylish displays of Icelandic life and commodities.


One of Arbaer's displays of Icelandic life
One of Arbaer’s beautiful displays of Icelandic life
Historic Icelandic women's desses
Historic Icelandic women’s desses

Then there was Eldheimar (Pompeii of the North) telling the story of the eruption on Heimaey with it’s evocative excavated house and clever use of audioguides. David has an interesting interview with the Director of  this new museum here.

Eldheimar (Pompeii of the North)
Eldheimar (Pompeii of the North)


Detail of a buried house
Detail of a buried house

The Aquarium and Natural History Museum in Heimay celebrating it’s 50th anniversary with decorated stones and the chance to meet it’s VIP resident:

What hot feet a puffin has!
What hot feet a puffin has!

The eclectic shark fishing museum on the north of the Snaefellsness peninsula with artifacts, drying shark and the opportunity to buy the real thing. Visit Dmitri’s blog for a full write-up of this one!

Detail of fishing boat boat
Detail of fishing boat boat

The charming natural history museum in Ólafsfjördur with an extensive collection of birds, a polar bear and something which I particularly enjoyed…..a little browseable herbarium.


Pressed plants to flick through
Pressed plants to flick through

At the Museum of Akureyri the current exhibition was an interesting display of images of Iceland today taken using the wet plate technique. We have some plates like this in our collection and even though ours are about 100 years old and these were modern, all the smudges and drips around the edges look identical. ALongside this chenging temporary exhibition they also had two more permanent displays about mapping Iceland and life in Akureyri in ages past.

Gallery of maps in Akureyri Museum
Gallery of maps in Akureyri Museum
Edge effects on a modern wet plate image of the Cafe Paris building, Akureyri