Bill Pettit grant for up to £3000

Do you have a great project in mind that supports the conservation, access and use of natural science collections? Well, NatSCA’s Bill Pettit memorial grant for up to £3000 is here to help!

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Volunteer, Laura Carter with River Otter discovery from freezer

We are looking for applications for exciting new projects for 2020. Terms and conditions and contact details to discuss your project can be found on our The Bill Pettit Memorial Award.

Our provious projects have included: helping conserve the World’s rarest skeleton, and  supporting public emgagement at the Nature Notes exhibition.

The Bill Pettit Memorial Award

The Bill Pettit Memorial Award – £2000

NatSCA is pleased to invite applications to this year’s Bill Pettit Memorial Award. Up to £2,000 of grant money, is available to NatSCA members this year to support projects including the conservation, access and use of natural science collections.

Charles Arthur William ‘Bill’ Pettit (1937-2009) started his career with the National Institute of Oceanography but moved to the Manchester Museum in 1975 to become Assistant Keeper of Zoology. In his time at Manchester, Bill worked tirelessly for the collections and was instrumental in projects such as FENSCORE as well as numerous publications. It is in recognition of his commitment to natural science collections that we would like to offer this annual award.

Projects will be assessed against NatSCA’s mission to promote collections care, use and access of Natural Science collections. We are looking for projects that can be delivered on time and budget, leaving a tangible legacy. Each project will be considered on its own merits by the NatSCA committee and the committee’s decision, including not awarding any money that year, will be final. 

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Willows in the Wind: Digitisation of the Tullie House Herbarium

Excited (botanical) chatter, the inexorable flashing of camera equipment, intrigued visitors gathering around our new gallery space; this was our Virtual Flora of Tullie Herbarium Project, funded by the Bill Pettit Memorial Award at the start of 2017.

The scope of the project, between 30th of May to 26th of September 2017, was to use a team of volunteers to begin photographing and cataloguing our (“ex”) University of Lancaster herbarium. This significant acquisition of 35,000 vascular plant sheets is a highly data rich and well-provenanced collection with invaluable information on the historical and contemporary distribution of species across the UK and beyond. Almost a third of the specimens were collected from Cumbria, much of it collected during a major 30 year survey of the flora of Cumbria; an exemplar model of field surveying which is aspired to by Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) recorders today. The survey work culminated in the team leader’s (Geoffrey Halliday) highly comprehensive publication of A Flora of Cumbria. No other herbarium has a comparable recent (1968+) collection of Cumbrian material.  But despite the importance of this recent acquisition, none of these specimens were digitised.

Thanks to the Bill Pettit Memorial Award funding this was all about to change.

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Improving Specimen-Data Recording and Access in a Life Sciences Museum

The Museum of Life Sciences at King’s College London contains teaching and research material from King’s College London (KCL) and elsewhere. The collections include Botany, Zoology and Pharmacy specimens, including microscope slides, from around the world and a small, unique exhibition of glass sculptures recently created to commemorate the role of KCL in the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Paper and electronic (Access) databases were first created in 2003 and contained data for the then KCL Zoology and Botany Collections. In the last few years, volunteers have been recording specimens in paper (form-based) or electronic (Excel) formats and we have all been learning ‘on the job’. Inevitably specimens have been catalogued in different ways to record various kinds of information and many specimens remain uncatalogued. Some groups of specimens from a single collector/preparer or from a single source have been catalogued together as eg ‘The Daws Collection’, The Challenger Collection’.  The accumulating data were becoming unwieldy as there are now more than 8000 records. Continue reading

Nature Notes

In 2016 the Herbert held its first in-house natural history exhibition since a major redevelopment was completed in 2008. The exhibition, Nature Notes, explored the seasonal changes in local wildlife by displaying taxidermy, nests, insects, botany and fungi, botanical watercolours, oil paintings and contemporary artworks. It encouraged visitors to look at the natural world around them and the artworks aimed to inspire visitors to respond to nature in a creative way.

Nature Notes was designed to be enjoyed by all and accessibility was a key consideration in developing the interpretation and interactives. Additions to the exhibition included Makaton on the text panels and interactive tables; and the provision of accessibility aids such as torches, magnifying sheets and ear defenders. We considered contradictory needs such specific learning difficulties and visual impairments by producing lower contrast labels and providing high contrast large print text to take round the space.

Gallery view of Nature Notes.

Gallery view of Nature Notes. The seasonal display runs around the wall, with interactives and handling specimens in the centre.

The most popular part of the exhibition was the multi-sensory interactive tables with things to touch, smell and listen to. These were created by using low cost tables with adjustable legs with a vinyl graphic applied so they tied in with the exhibition’s design. Five pieces of taxidermy were commissioned – one of each season, plus a spare mouse. We worked with a local group of disabled and non-disabled teenagers to help us choose the right smells for each table – only the brave dared to smell the otter dung! As each offered the same experience of touch, smell and sound this meant queues did not form around one table, allowing for a better visitor experience. Continue reading

The Bill Pettit Memorial Award 2015

NatSCA is pleased to invite applications to this year’s Bill Pettit Memorial Award. Up to  £1,500 of grant money will be made available to NatSCA members every year to support projects including the conservation, access, and use of natural science collections.

colour-logo(900pxwide)Charles Arthur William ‘Bill’ Pettit (1937 – 2009) started his career with the National Institute of Oceanography, but moved to the Manchester Museum in 1975 to become Assistant Keeper of Zoology. In his time at Manchester, Bill worked tirelessly for the collections and was instrumental in projects such as FENSCORE, as well as numerous publications. It is in recognition of his commitment to natural science collections that we would like to offer this annual award.

Applications are invited under a wide range of categories. Each project will be considered on its own merits by the NatSCA committee and the committee’s decision, including not awarding any money that year, will be final. Grants up to £1,500 are available. To apply, please put together a 700-word project proposal, which must include:

  • The name and status (e.g. charity, individual, local authority) of the applicant
  • The proposed outcomes of the project and benefits to the museum
  • Detailed costs
  • Accurate timescale (including any work undertaken so far and the project end date)
  • Details of other funding/match funding already secured for the project

Grants will be considered on an annual basis in January or February.

Deadline for 2015 applications: Friday 11th December

Successful applicants will be announced at the NatSCA annual general meeting and are required to produce a report/article on their project for publication.

Applications are open to NatSCA individual or institutional members only.

Please contact David Gelsthorpe (david.gelsthorpe@manchester.ac.uk, 0161 3061601) for further information or to submit a grant application.