NatSCA Digital Digest – July

Compiled by Lily Nadine Wilks, Intern at Museum Development Yorkshire.

Welcome to the July edition of NatSCA Digital Digest!Where Can I Visit?

It’s that time, museums have been allowed to reopen! Sadly most aren’t re-opening just yet to keep everyone safe. You can visit Derby Museum and Gallery from the 7th July and experience their Notice Nature Feel Joy exhibition. https://www.derbymuseums.org/locations/museum-art-gallery

Also you can visit Beamish Museum in the North East from 23rd July and visit their wonderful farms. http://www.beamish.org.uk/

The Yorkshire Museum Gardens have reopened, 7 days a week from 10.30am to 6pm – they are a wonderful place to sit and watch the squirrels https://www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/news-media/latest-news/york-museum-gardens-reopening-in-june/

Doors may remain closed but you can visit National Museums Liverpool Dinosaurs and Natural World virtual gallery tour: https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/dinosaurs-and-natural-world-virtual-tour

Continue reading

NatSCA Digital Digest – June

Compiled by Jan Freedman, Curator of Natural History, The Box, Plymouth.

Welcome to the June edition of NatSCA Digital Digest!

With the government easing lockdown, some of us return to work, but museums and art galleries still remain closed. There are still lots of great online resources and activities to enjoy.

Where can I ‘visit’?

The Natural History Museum, London has several virtual tours around their galleries. Whether you would like to flick through the Wildlife Photographer of the Year images, or listen to the soothing voice of Sir David Attenborough, there’s plenty to see, and inspire some ideas for your own museum.

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History has a wonderful virtual tour of their galleries. The North Carolina Museum of Natural History has several online events and activities, including talks with curators about their collections. Similarly, the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre has several online videos of curators talking about the collections.

What can I do?

SPNHC and ICOM NATHIST are holding a virtual digital meeting from June 8th – June 12th. The event includes presentations, symposiums and educational sharing to promote communication and professional development. More details can be found here.

Continue reading

Playing with Wire: The Conservation of a Wallaby Skeleton

Written by Caitlin Jenkins, MSc Conservation Practice student, Cardiff University and volunteer at National Museum Cardiff.

While volunteering with natural history conservator Julian Carter at National Museum Cardiff, I was given the opportunity to work on a wallaby skeleton. This was the first skeleton of any kind I had conserved. Although it initially appeared to be in relatively good condition, there were lots of small areas needing attention that made it a surprisingly complicated job.

A bony jigsaw…

The first step was to remove dirt that had built up on the bones over the years. This was cleaned away using cotton swabs and small interdental brushes dipped in a sodium bicarbonate solution; care was taken to not over-wet the bones as this can damage them.

One of the main conservation tasks was to re-wire a portion of ribcage that was hanging loose and distorting the alignment of the left side. In keeping with the pre-existing work, this required me to stabilise the free end of each rib using a single piece of wire twisted at intervals. This provided support and appropriate spacing of the bones. I had previously made jewellery using a similar technique, so my experience came in handy during the fiddliest parts!

Beginning the ribcage wiring

Continue reading

Virtual Fieldwork during Lockdown – Part 1

Travelling to Socotra with the British and Liverpool Museums Expedition (1898/99).

By John-James Wilson, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, World Museum, National Museums Liverpool

I’m one of the many field biologists whose fieldwork has been cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown. It’s a tiny price to pay to get this unprecedented global pandemic under control but it’s hard not to dream about the tropical adventures that could have been. Fortunately for natural history curators, re-living the fieldwork of our predecessors while exploring (from home) the collections we look after, can go some way to satiate the travel bug.

The Socotra Archipelago (also spelt Soqotra or Sokotra) probably doesn’t feature in many people’s lockdown travel dreams. The archipelago is politically part of Yemen, a country tragically suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as the result of ongoing civil war. However, in 1898, Socotra was firmly on the bucket list of Henry Ogg Forbes, Director and ornithologist at the Liverpool Museums (now World Museum, National Museums Liverpool).

Continue reading

NatSCA Digital Digest – May

Compiled by Glenn Roadley, Curator (Natural Science), The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

Welcome to the May edition of NatSCA Digital Digest!

A note from the Blog editor:

As you know, Digital Digest is our monthly blog series featuring the latest on what’s new in the natural history sector. We normally feature the latest on where to go, what to see and do in the natural history sector including jobs, exhibitions, conferences and training opportunities. With the onset of the lockdown, we can’t go anywhere physically, but perhaps now more than ever, there is still heaps of stuff out there to keep you entertained.

It’s month two of lockdown, but the sector has continued to produce an incredible stream of digital engagement activities for visitors and colleagues alike, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Here’s a selection of resources and activities from across the museum web:

Where Can I ‘Visit’?

A number of museums have been conducting virtual tours of their collections and recording interviews with staff members to maintain a link to the public while closed. Birmingham Museums Trust have posted a look behind the scenes with their Natural Sciences Curator, Lukas Large. The Natural History Museum have created a hub full of tours, resources and activities to inspire and engage during lockdown.

What Can I do?

The Field Studies Council has created a list of resources and ideas for staying in touch with nature while in lockdown. With most of us confined to houses and gardens, why not get more acquainted with the natural history you can find there? I’m thinking of building a moth trap…

And in a move to advocate what NOT to do, Plantlife are promoting #NoMowMay – a citizen science project to encourage people to leave their mowers in the shed and join an national count of the resulting wildflowers.


What can I Read?

You really don’t need anything more than Rebecca Machin’s #AnimalAcrostics to get you through the day, but if for some reason that isn’t enough for you, we have two fab conservation stories on our NatSCA blog. Written by Lu Allington-Jones, Senior Conservator & Chelsea McKibbin, Conservator, at the Natural History Museum, London, our latest blog explains the process of conserving a celebrity specimen – the 1,341 year-old slice of Giant Sequoia that stands on the second-floor balcony of the Hintze Hall. A blog by our very own Paolo Viscardi, ‘Resurrection 101’, gives a step-by-step guide to rehydrating a desiccated frog specimen – the before and after photos are incredible and reveal the technique to be actual witchcraft, probably.

Before You Go…

If you have any top tips and recommendations for our next Digest please drop an email to blog@natsca.org.

Similarly, if you have something to say about a current topic, or perhaps you want to tell us what you’ve been working on, we welcome new blog articles so please drop Jen an email if you have anything you would like to submit.

Stay safe and keep well.