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NEWS FROM THE SECTOR: Headline stories from the web

Please help us to keep this page up to date by sending relevant news items to the webmaster. Information is updated approximately every 2 weeks.
[LAST UPDATED 15th July 2014]

EUColComp Project

09/07/2014: From GCG Jisc Mailing List...
EUColComp is a two-year Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation project funded under the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP). The aim of the project is to transfer a set of universal competencies for collections management to institutions across the EU to help organisations to:

  1. identify the competencies required for particular roles;
  2. identify individuals’ levels of competence; and
  3. identify the vocational and educational training (VET) needed to address missing/weak competencies.

Read more...

The Importance of Natural Sciences

01/07/2014: From Museums Association Comment: Jack Ashby...
Comparing attitudes across the Atlantic Last week Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales hosted Historic Collections, Future Resources, the 2014 meeting of the (largely North American) Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections. It was run in partnership with the UK’s two natural history subject specialist networks – the Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) and the Geological Curators’ Group, and so it was an opportunity to compare the state and philosophies of the sector on either side of the Atlantic and elsewhere... Read more

The importance of being the largest microfossils

19/06/2014: From From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
One of my curatorial predecessors Randolf Kirkpatrick (1863-1950) thought that larger benthic foraminifera (LBFs) were so important that he published a theory that they were vital to the formation of all rocks on earth. Our collection of LBFs has received relatively little attention over the 20 years I have been at the Museum, but recently it has been the most viewed part of the microfossil collection. Read more...

Free Access to Fossil Fish articles

20/05/2014: From GCG Jisc Mailing List...
In conjunction with the Sir Arthur Smith Woodward symposium at the Natural History Museum, Taylor & Francis have kindly granted FREE access to a selection of key articles on fossil fish from Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. These articles have been specially selected by the Associate Editor - Zerina Johanson, and are available for you to read for free until the end of July 2014: http://explore.tandfonline.com/page/est/tjsp-fossilfish

Six questions for a Geological Curator

19/05/2014: From GCG Blog...
This is the first post in our series where we ask geological curators around the country a series of questions that allow them to advocate the collections in their charge. This post is kindly provided by Dean Lomax who is Contract Assistant Curator of Palaeontology at the Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery, working on the CIRCA Project which is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. He is the author of two books, Fossils of the Whitby Coast and Dinosaurs of the British Isles... READ MORE

Earth Heritage 41

15/05/2014: From Earth Heritage...
Earth Heritage, the geological and landscape conservation publication, is now available again as printed magazine & as free downloadable pdf. Visit the website at www.earthheritage.org.uk and click the green button on the home page to buy laser-printed copies of any issue. Alternatively, download the pdf of your chosen issue and browse onscreen or print out.

 

Geology For Society

30/01/2014: From the GSL blog...
The Society has launched its latest report entitled ‘Geology for Society’ designed to communicate to policy and decision-makers, as well as the wider public, the value of geology to society. You can read and download the report on the Society website

 

Mammoths move in

13/05/2014: From NaturePlus: What's new at the museum...
'Getting such enormous exhibits into the Museum last week was probably one of the most challenging load-ins we've had, for any exhibition,' says project manager, Becca Jones. 'Simply because of their sheer size and weight!' The excitement is mounting as the installation of our summer blockbuster exhibition strides into its final weeks. Mammoths: Ice Age Giants was created by the Field Museum in Chicago and, following its earlier run in Edinburgh, will open here at the Museum on 23 May. Our photographer caught some of the installation on camera, enjoy the pictures...READ MORE

 

Mammoths move in

13/05/2014: From NaturePlus: What's new at the museum...
'Getting such enormous exhibits into the Museum last week was probably one of the most challenging load-ins we've had, for any exhibition,' says project manager, Becca Jones. 'Simply because of their sheer size and weight!' The excitement is mounting as the installation of our summer blockbuster exhibition strides into its final weeks. Mammoths: Ice Age Giants was created by the Field Museum in Chicago and, following its earlier run in Edinburgh, will open here at the Museum on 23 May. Our photographer caught some of the installation on camera, enjoy the pictures...READ MORE

 

How well do we advocate for our collections in exhibits?

10/05/2014: From SPNHC blog: cracking the collections...
The purpose and value of natural history collections has evolved in tandem with our growing understanding of the patterns and processes that govern nature. In the 17th and 18th centuries, natural history collections were kept mainly as tangible evidence of life’s diversity and often as curiosities for curiosity’s sake. However, as specimens were amassed over time and space, this simple function transcended to one of greater scientific and cultural purpose. Natural history collections have come to represent a veritable reference library of the history of Earth, life and science, one that we can return to again and again to help answer the pressing questions of the day. And, just like a library of books, the knowledge covered and the future potential for use and discovery only grows with time...READ MORE

 

Who visits our behind the scenes collections and why?

07/05/2014: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
How do our visitors know what's here and why do they arrange visits? The microfossil collections are not on display in the Museum galleries and many people are unaware that we have such large collections behind the scenes. Despite this, last year I hosted over 300 visitors to our microfossil collections...READ MORE

 

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to Lyme we go, with a fossil here and a fossil there

02/05/2014: From NHM NaturePlus: what's new in the museum
Last night, Radio 4's Robin Ince kicked off this year's Lyme Regis Fossil Festival to the sound of scientific laughter. The festival, now in its 9th year, runs from 2-4 May over the bank holiday. Today is for schools, with all the public events happening on Saturday and Sunday...READ MORE

See also...

 

Natural History Near You: Putting natural history collections on the map with #NHNearYou

30/04/2014: From NatSCA...
Today we are officially launching our crowdsourcing project, Natural History Near You (#NHNearYou), to find every natural history collection in the UK & Ireland and discover what they hold and what state they're in. Every collection, no matter how small, can provide the specimens needed to answer important or interesting questions. We want to help researchers of all kinds find collections that they might be able to use to bring the collections and their hidden stories to life and we need your help to find out about natural history collections in the UK & Ireland. As part of the launch, the #NHNearYou is tomorrow's Culture Themes hashtag (details here). Please help us get the word out!...READ MORE

 

When Two Tribes Go To War. Art & Science ‘curatorship’

29/04/2014: From Art & Science of Curation...
When two tribes go to war, they communicate with each other, even if it is only through war cries and violence. However, when it comes to the two tribes of art and science curators, they occupy completely different niches. Even though both sets of professionals have a lot in common- they work in museums (many of which are public), they will have had training in general and fundamental principles of museums and they all work in the museum sector. They are both called ‘curators’ (or keepers or collections managers and a hundred other variants that nobody could tell what the difference is). However, that’s about as far as it goes. They have different professional bodies, attend different conferences, publish in different journals, participate in different subject specialist networks, go to different exhibitions, read different magazines, blogs and sections in the newspaper. In my opinion many artists in residencies in science institutions are often artists doing what they’d already be doing just in a science institution and scientists in residencies in art institutions are reduced to the Saturday morning cartoon stereotype of a scientist, complete with lab coat. Quite why they are so different is an article in its own right, but rather than kick start a war between the two factions let’s look at the advice and opportunities they could share between them...READ MORE

 

BGS - A centre of excellence for geosciences

28/04/2014: From BGS Director's Blog...
The BGS and many other geological surveys are in the process of "upping their game" as scientific research institutes. BGS intends to be the "preeminent research active geological survey" and announced this as part of a study in developing its business planning going forwards. We anticipate that public based funding in the UK and elsewhere, is probably becoming tighter and we will need to diversify our science funding base. The key will be to maintain excellence in a competitive research market and minimise drift towards science consultancy... READ MORE

 

Teaching collections management and dodging spiders in Brazil

24/04/2014: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
This March I taught a course on collections management at the University of Brasilia (UnB) in the capital of Brazil. The class included both undergraduate and postgraduate students studying Geology, Museology and Art, mainly at UnB. This is the third time that I have presented a similar course in Brazil with previous courses delivered at UnB and the Museu Goeldi in Belem...READ MORE

 

From Russia with Love

13/04/2014: From NHM News...
UK debut for Lyuba the 42,000-year-old infant in the new Mammoths: Ice Age Giants exhibition. The beautifully preserved body of the world's most complete woolly mammoth is on its way to the Natural History Museum from the Shemanovsky Museum in Russia as part of a new exhibition opening on 23 May. The baby mammoth, named Lyuba, meaning love in Russian, is the size of a large dog and was thought to have been only one month old when she died...READ MORE

 

A dinosaur discovery in Doncaster will see a sauropod settle back in Scarborough after a 50-year sojourn

09/04/2014: From Culture 24...
A toe bone of a sauropod, collected as one of two metatarsals on a Scarborough beach nearly 200 years ago, has returned to the North Yorkshire town’s Woodend Museum – half a century after it was lent to Doncaster Museum without any paperwork...READ MORE

 

Earliest heart and blood discovered

07/04/2014: From NHM News...
The earliest known heart and blood vessels have been found in an exceptionally well-preserved fossil revealing that a complex cardiovascular system evolved as early as 520 million years ago. A team of researchers including Museum palaeontologists Dr Xiaoya Ma and Dr Greg Edgecombe found the imprint of the cardiovascular system in a fossil arthropod, a group of animals that includes insects, spiders, lobsters and millipedes. Their findings, published today in the journal Nature Communications, mean the species Fuxianhuia protensa is now the most anatomically well-known fossil arthropod. Previous investigations of the same fossil animal in China have revealed a complex nervous system and gut...READ MORE

 

Bringing Fossils to Life

24/03/2014: From Wallstreet Journal...
The prehistoric flying reptile swooped over a shimmering ocean. But in a flash, it quickly plummeted into the waves. A curse rang out. The interactives group at the American Museum of Natural History was testing one of the more ambitious features from its newest exhibit "Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs," which opens April 5. In it, a flight simulator will allow visitors to soar through two carefully constructed prehistoric landscapes—using their bodies like a "game controller" to direct the flight of the reptile...READ MORE

 

The White House Wants More Fossils and Moon Rocks Online

21/03/2014: From Nextgov...
Federal agencies that manage scientific collections such as space rocks, fossils and animal tissue samples have six months to write draft policies describing how those collections will be made more accessible to the public online, according to a White House memo. The memo from John Holdren, director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, envisions a central clearinghouse for digital information about government’s scientific collections developed, in part at least, by the Smithsonian Institution...READ MORE

 

#museumweek UK

From March 24-30 2014, hundreds of museums and galleries from across the UK and Europe will come together on Twitter for the first ever #MuseumWeek. Follow our participating organisations here and gain unparalleled access to some of Europe’s leading museums and the people behind them, in 140-characters bursts...READ MORE

 

What our microfossil collection tells us about the earliest humans in Britain

06/03/2014: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
On 13 Feb a new temporary exhibition opened here at the Museum entitled Britain: one million years of the human story. It includes some images of microfossils from our collection in the display. These and other microfossil collections housed behind the scenes help with dating the finds, reconstructing the environment, landscape and climate of these first human settlements in Britain and provide the climatic context for the recent discovery of the earliest human footprints in Britain on a Norfolk beach.READ MORE

 

Work experience from the Dinosaur Isle Museum

04/03/2014: From NaturePlus: Fossil Fish blog...
As part of my job I often work with other curators and museum professionals. Part of having such a good network of colleagues is that we can learn from each other (us 'experts' don't know everything!). Back in January (27th - 31st), I had the pleasure of the assistance of Alex Peaker who is a palaeontologist at Dinosaur Isle Museum on the Isle of Wight. Alex wanted to come to the Palaeontology Section to see how we document our specimens and deal with research visitors. Here Alex tells us a bit about his job at Dinosaur Isle Museum and what he got up to during the week...READ MORE

 

From Museum floor to scientific collection

25/02/2014: From NaturePlus: Behind the scenes blog...
I received an email recently from one of my contacts in the Museum's library which simply said: 'Zoe Hughes has a doorstop with an interesting story'. Intrigued, I fired off an email to fossil invertebrates (Brachiopods and Cephalopods) curator Zoe and made a date to meet her to talk about the doorstop. But we would soon discover that this was just the beginning of the story. The item in question was a very heavy iron cast of a brachiopod, Spirifer striata, that had been found in the roof of a cave in Derbyshire by fossil collector William Gilbertson. From there the fossil came into the possession of Edmund Garwood, a professor of geology and mineralogy. The fossil was then cast in iron by a member of the Slade School of Art, part of University College London... READ MORE

 

Morocco - the final (pink) day!

24/02/2014: From NaturePlus: Fossil Fish blog...
ur last day in the field was one our Ore Curator, Helena Toman, was particulary looking forward to. We had finished visiting the fossil sites and today we would spend having a look around an active mine and collecting samples for the Museum's collections. Helena tells us more about it... READ MORE

 

Dr Woodward’s fossils

21/02/2014: From the Geological Society...
For three hundred years, 5 beautiful walnut veneer cabinets, like elegant Regency secretaires, have been the home to almost 10,000 “Fossils of all Kinds” in the University of Cambridge. These were originally the personal collection of Dr John Woodward (1665 (or 8) – 1728). Professor of Physick at Gresham College, Fellow of the Royal Society and “a vain, foolish and affected man”, Woodward was an enigma. Reviled by most of his contemporaries, who thought him a conceited, vain, arrogant popinjay, he was a man who played a crucial role in initiating the science of geology... READ MORE

 

What can Twitter do for our collection?

18/02/2014: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
From 1 December we tweeted a picture of one of our microfossil Christmas card themed slides every day until Christmas in a successful advent series. This brought our collections to a new audience and showed that reaching a wider exposure on Twitter is reliant on retweets from major players such as the Museum's main account, @NHM_London, and good timing of tweets. Other factors included the relative aesthetic beauty of some slides compared to others and may have reflected the skill of the slidemakers concerned... READ MORE

 

"A curiosity for fabulous things": Multimillion pound Jurassic museum set for Kimmeridge

18/02/2014: From Culture24 Reporter...
For the past 30 years, Steve Etches has investigated life and death under the seas off Kimmeridge, a Dorset village whose coastal clay fossils tell tales of marine life 150 million years ago. New scientific specimens, including chelonians, pterosaurs and ichthyosaurs, are among his collection of more than 2,000 late Jurassic examples from a place whose outcrops have surfaced across Europe. When a new museum opens in 2016, funded by a £2.7 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Etches’ workshop will be built into the site... READ MORE

 

Thousands pour through doors as Oxford University Museum of Natural History re-opens

17/02/2014: From Culture24...
Gothic arches and fascinating Victorian cases are once again welcoming visitors to one of the UK's best natural history museums at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Thousands of visitors poured through the doors of Oxford University Museum of Natural History this weekend after the popular repository of everything from dodos to dinosaurs revealed its newly restored glass tiered roof... READ MORE

 

Are geologists different?

17/02/2014: From the Geological Society...
We’re a little unclear as to the origin of this clipping (can anyone help?) Whilst of course not condoning the somewhat outdated gender stereotyping, and without wishing to malign engineers (our very own President is one, after all), we can’t help but agree with the sentiment. Geologists are indeed ‘the very embodiment of all the virtues and qualities that are universally admired in humankind.’ Natch... READ MORE

 

Where Brazilian fish and brilliant composers meet

16/02/2014: From NaturePlus: Behind the scenes blog...
In my ongoing quest to uncover the most fascinating and curious specimens and stories from behind the scenes at the Museum, I recently came across this lovely tale that I think epitomises the inquisitiveness, perseverance and patience that it takes to be a good scientist. Let me recount it for you: In 1973 Dr Peter Whitehead, head of marine fishes at the Museum, began a personal quest that would soon take on international (and interdisciplinary) significance. Whitehead, an expert in clupeids - herrings, anchovies and their numerous relatives - was attempting to track down the original painting of a fish called a piquitinga. The painting was used as the basis for a woodcut that accompanied a description of the species by the naturalist Georg Marcgraf in Historia naturalis Brasiliae in 1648. Marcgraf's brief Latin description and poor quality woodcut was then used by Carl Linnaeus and later taxonomists, who variously identified it as a herring or as an anchovy... READ MORE

 

Earth Science Week 2014

From the Geological Society...
The Society has hosted Earth Science Week since 2011. Each year we have grown and developed the events and resources that we provide throughout the week. We hope that 2014 will be another great year for earth science. The dates for UK Earth Science Week 2014 will be October 13-19, with a theme of ‘Our Geo-Heritage.’... READ MORE

 

Top 10 Museum News Stories in 2013

09/01/2014: From NHM News...
Bumper attendance made for a successful year at the Museum, proving natural history is ever-popular. The number of visitors to the Museum reached a record high in 2013 at more than 5.3 million. This is an increase of more than threefold since 2001, the last year of chargeable entry. The Sensational Butterflies exhibition also had its best ever year, welcoming 165,000 visitors. Here are our top 10 news stories of the year... READ MORE

 

Where can you find a giant sculpture of one of our type species?

06/01/2014: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
The answer is in the world’s first foraminiferal sculpture park in Zhongshan City, China. Remarkable Chinese scientist Zheng Shouyi has gained international recognition for her work on the Foraminifera of China and was responsible for encouraging the building of this sculpture park. Just before Christmas, a book chapter written by myself and entitled 'A brief History of modelling of the foraminifera from d'Orbigny to Zheng Shouyi' was published in a Special Publication of the Micropalaeontological Society on 'Landmarks in Foraminiferal Micropalaeontology, History and Development'. This post highlights the remarkable work of Zheng Shouyi who has shown publically what is hidden behind the scenes of many research establishments like the Museum and touches briefly on some of the microfossil model collections we have here at the Museum... READ MORE

 

Issue 41 of Earth Heritage now available

06/01/2014: From Earth Heritage...
Successful geological conservation is increasingly about the integration of geodiversity with other heritage assets such as biodiversity and archaeology. Several articles in issue 41 of Earth Heritage illustrate how this is being achieved around the country. Earth Heritage is produced twice yearly to stimulate interest in geodiversity and a broad range of geological and landscape conservation issues within the UK and further afield. It is free to download in pdf format from the Downloads section of this site and should interest geological conservation specialists, and those involved in studying Earth and environmental sciences in universities, colleges and secondary education...View and download your copy of the publication free of charge at www.earthheritage.org.uk

 

ACE to pass cuts on to museums

06/01/2014: From Museums Association News...
DCMS cuts ACE's grant-in-aid. Arts Council England (ACE) has confirmed it will pass on cuts of 1.17% in 2014/15 and 1.13% in 2015/16 following the chancellor’s Autumn Statement last month. George Osborne announced the cuts, which are equivalent to a £13m reduction next year and £12m the following year, to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) budget in December... READ MORE

 

Ichthyosaur fossil at Charmouth narrowly misses storm destruction

04/01/2014: From BBC news...
A near-complete ichthyosaur skeleton discovered on the Dorset coast after Christmas storms was hours away from destruction, fossil hunters have said. Storms uncovered the 1.5m (5ft) fossil at the base of Black Ven near Charmouth on Boxing Day. The giant marine reptile fossil was painstakingly removed over eight hours, shortly before another storm was due...READ MORE

 

Smithsonian Museum Scans A Mammoth - In 3D

02/01/2014: From Sky News...
One of the world's largest museums has launched an ambitious project to 3D scan its collection. America's prestigious Smithsonian museum is using the revolutionary technology to document its artefacts but also to share them through 3D printers and online. 3D scanning bounces lasers off objects using the echo to map them in space. The process is used to build up 3D digital images of almost anything, regardless of size or complexity... READ MORE

 

Wyoming diplodocus skeleton bought for Denmark museum

17/12/2013: From BBC news...
A diplodocus skeleton that was sold at auction to an unnamed buyer was bought by the Natural History Museum of Denmark, it has emerged. The 17m-long (56ft) dinosaur, which was found in a quarry in Wyoming, US, and then assembled in Rotterdam, was auctioned in West Sussex last month.... READ MORE

 

Natural History Under the Hammer

04/12/2013: From UCL Museums and Collections blog...
Recently there have been a spate of high profile auctions of natural history specimens raising many issues about ownership, the value we should or shouldn’t put on natural history and the relationship between professional scientists, museums, amateurs and private collectors. My colleague Jack Ashby wrote about the recent dodo bones that were auctioned. Colleagues Dave Hone and Mark Graham give a balanced view of the recent sale of a Diplodocus skeleton over at the Guardian. The ‘duelling dinosaurs’ fossil was estimated to reach $9 million at auction in New York and last year the controversial proposed sale of an allegedly illicitly smuggled Tarbosaurus skeleton caused much debate... READ MORE

 

The tale of the disappearing dinosaur tail

03/12/2013: From NaturePlus Behind the Scenes Blog...
The sale of a Diplodocus skeleton for £400,000 at auction in West Sussex last week brought to my mind a little titbit about our own specimen. The Diplodocus in the Central Hall, affectionately known as Dippy, is a cast taken from the type specimen of Diplodocus carnegii that was unearthed in Wyoming, USA in 1898.When it was originally put on display in the Museum in 1905, the long tail drooped downwards and trailed along the floor... READ MORE

 

Should museums be doing more to address climate change?

02/12//2013: From MA Voxpop December 2013...
Liz Hyde writes: “I think museums make a substantial and fundamental contribution to the issue of climate change. Engaging the public in debate is important, as is the sustainability of our buildings. But, uniquely, our collections – in zoology, geology, palaeontology and botany – are powerful documents of past climate change. Natural history collections in many cases are truly scientific collections: vital primary resources for researchers working to understand and predict future changes in climate. We need to recognise the status and importance of these collections, support our curators and nurture links with climate change researchers".... READ MORE

 

150 visitors in 2 days

02/12/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
On the 18th and 19th of November we welcomed over 150 micropalaeontologists who travelled from as far away as New Zealand for a conference at the Museum. Over 50 of them were given tours behind the scenes and 45 micropalaeontology posters were displayed. Thank you to fellow conference hosts and Museum scientists Tom Hill and Steve Stukins who have written this guest blog to describe the significance of these two busy days/weeks/months for micropalaeontology at the Museum... READ MORE

 

Hidden Gems: Call for papers

Session Chairs Dr. Jim Beard, Llyn Sharp, and myself invite you personally to present at this year’s Southeastern Regional Geological Society of America Annual Meeting under our session titled “Hidden Gems: Geological Collections and Museums in the Southeastern U.S.” (Technical session: Themed session T24). The Southeast has a number of “hidden gems,” geological collections which until now have been difficult, if not impossible, to access. Some of these collections belong to larger institutions where geosciences, and especially geoscience collections, are not the main focus. This session will discuss the challenges and successes for uncovering these “hidden gems.” It will address specifically how these collections and their associated information can be made more accessible to scientists, educators, and the public through web interfaces and digital cataloging tools like EGEMS. Whether your geological materials are meticulously organized and digitally cataloged with easy public access, or in such disarray you wouldn't even know where to begin to look for a particular specimen, we want you! We want to know what works, what doesn't, and what innovative ideas are out there for increasing access and usability to all of our “hidden gems”. The beauty of the world we live in now is the ease in which we can share information and we do hope you are able to share your stories, however, even if you aren't able to present this year, please do try to attend because this session is for all of us, and will hopefully be the beginning of a much larger initiative to use today’s technology to bring our collections out of hibernation and into a vibrant new world!  This year’s meeting will be held on April 10-11 in Blacksburg, VA at the Inn and Conference center at Virginia Tech. If interested please visit https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014SE/cfp.epl to submit an abstract. The deadline for abstract submission is January 7. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask... READ MORE

 

Why blog about museum collections?

17/10/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
This is my 50th blog post, so I thought I would look back and make a list of benefits that have come directly from blogging about my job and the collections in my care. These include an enhanced profile of the collection, help with collections management, fundraising, research collaboration offers and an enhanced personal profile. There are probably more that can't be directly measured but here are 20 to be going on with:... READ MORE

 

British fossils being lost to vandalism

11/10/2013: From The Guardian's Lost Worlds blog...
In the 1950s, a group of schoolboys made a major scientific discovery in the Charnwood Forest area of Leicestershire – but these fossils are now under threat. When Charles Darwin was writing The Origin of Species he knew there was a problem with what he was proposing. To be able to account for the many different species that had been found in Cambrian rock (rock less than 540 million years old), Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection needed complex life to be far more ancient. He needed Precambrian life – he needed the Precambrian seas to be teeming with life...READ MORE

 

Exploited interns, happy volunteers

09/10/2013: From Museums Journal blog...
Reaction to the Cuts Survey 2013 Public concern about museum interns keeps growing. Last week, the BBC ran a piece about the MA’s 2013 survey, leading on the finding that more than a third of museums and galleries cut staff last year, while nearly half increased the number of interns and volunteers. Astonishingly, this attracted over 350 comments in just one day. Against the background of increasingly aggressive government sanctions against unemployed people, national feeling is running high about young people being expected to work for free...READ MORE

 

Quality assurance

02/10/2013: From Museums Journal blog...
What five key qualities does the modern curator need? I really enjoyed Ask A Curator day, which took place last month and brought together experts from museums and galleries around the world to answer people’s questions on art, history, science and lots more.This Twitter-based event was started in 2010 by design company Sumo and seems to have gone from strength to strength. Throughout the day there was lots of activity on Twitter, with many curators responding to questions... READ MORE

 

Science Uncovered's show stoppers

27/09/2013: From NaturePlus: whats new blog...
The hour is fast approaching when we open our doors to the Museum's greatest show of the year on Friday, 27 September to mark the Europe-wide event of the year, European Resarchers' Night. Of course, Science Uncovered is much more than just a show, it gives visitors exclusive and extensive access to hundreds of scientists and our collections and research. But this year, in particular. there are some unmissable star attractions. A few are hot off the press... READ MORE

 

Diary of a microfossil curator - part 2

26/09/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
This week I celebrate 20 years at the Museum, and my diary has included preparing for a researchers' night highlighting museum science, Tweeting as part of #AskaCurator day and visiting a miniature steam railway. Monday: Most of today has been spent preparing for Science Uncovered, our EU-funded researchers' night on Friday 27 September. The doors of the Museum will remain open after usual closing time and scientists like myself will be available to talk about our science, show specimens and chat. Presentations in the Nature Live Studio will also be held and it will be possible to book tours to areas of the Museum not normally open to the public... READ MORE

 

BBC TV crew join palaeontologists unveiling 160-million-year-old dinosaur find

20/09/2013: From NHM News...
Museum scientists have begun to unpack the fossilised skeleton of what is probably a large sauropod discovered in Africa. Natural History Museum palaeontologists are working on the 160-million-year-old fossil to determine exactly what it is. The work could take up to a year. The event was filmed by CBBC's Blue Peter. The partially complete skeleton, comprising the backbone, legs, ribs and teeth of the animal, was found in Niger, Africa, in 1988. Sauropods were the biggest animals ever to walk the Earth. The leg bone of the find measures about 1.4m, which means this animal was particularly big... READ MORE

 

Fossil Fish at Science Uncovered

18/09/2013: From the Fossil Fish Blog...
On Friday 27 September the Museum will be holding Science Uncovered, part of the Europe-wide Researchers' Night. Science Uncovered involves almost all the Museum's staff and volunteers talking to visitors about their job, recent research or their favourite specimens. If that isn't enough to tempt you, how about joining one of the Museum tours, or having a drink with a scientist to talk about their work, and maybe ending the night dancing under Dippy's tail with a DJ? On the night our team will be out in force... READ MORE

 

Microfossil exercise inspires schoolchildren to learn science

17/09/2013: From From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
The Museum has been running an inspiring schools activity under the "How Science Works" strand of the National Curriculum, in which children carry out their own microfossil research project. In just over an hour, they investigate the microfossils in some Gault Clay collected from Folkestone, and learn the processes behind research including how scientists collect data, use it to solve problems and publish their findings. Feedback from the school groups shows that it is a fun and engaging way to learn about science away from the normal classroom environment. After completing the exercise, many children indicated that they were more enthusiastic towards a career in science and some even felt that they were already scientists... READ MORE

 

Museum partnership brings geological collections to life

9/09/2013: From geocurators - the GCG Blog...
Rockband, a Heritage Lottery Funded partnership, has enabled a group of five museums to bring in expert advice to provide new ideas to help interpret and communicate about their geology collections in innovative and exciting ways, as well as promoting partnership working. The collections have been used to reach out to new audiences including blind and partially sighted people. New geology sessions have enabled members of the public to understand the relationship between the geology of the local area, building stones and the natural landscape... READ MORE

 

Setting the record straight

9/09/2013: From Maurice Davies' blog
My recent blogs have generated quite a lot of heat – and not necessarily that much light. I thought it might be helpful to set out, in plain language, the propositions I made in those blogs, so the people who disagreed with me so passionately can respond again if they still disagree with me. To clarify exactly what I said, I’ll try to be more measured and restrained in my expressions than previously... READ MORE

 

GCG Launches new blog!

GCG have started a new blog highlighting the applications of geological collections. The aim of the new site is to be proactive in gathering information on collections use and importance at at time when we are increasingly threatened with cuts and being asked to justify resources allocated to collections management. If you have any stories you think would make a good subject for a blog item then we would be glad to hear from you either via JISCMAIL or directly through the blog. (There is a form on the "About" link at the top right hand corner of the page)... READ MORE

 

Dinosaur Live Build - First Time in UK Event

10/09/13: From the Bristol Dinosaur Project...
Bristol's very own dinosaur Thecodontosaurus will be brought to life on the city's Harbourside this autumn when local artist Robert Nicholls and Pedro Viegas from University of Bristol build a full-size replica of the beast, based by the very latest scientific discoveries about how it would have looked when it roamed around Bristol 210 million years ago. The build begins on Tuesday 1 October at M Shed, Bristol's newest museum, and will run until the end of November 2013.  For the first time ever, members of the public are welcome to drop in and observe the reconstruction of the life-sized Thecodontosaurus and see the dinosaur come to life; admission free... READ MORE

 

SYNTHESYS is back!

09/09/13: From GCG JISC mailing list...
The SYNTHESYS Office is pleased to announce the start of the new SYNTHESYS3 project under the current European Commission's FPVII European-funded Integrating Activities funding scheme. SYNTHESYS Access funding is available to provide scientists (Users) based in European Member, Associate and Candidate States to undertake short visits to utilise the infrastructure (comprising the collections, staff expertise and analytical facilities) at one of the 16 partner institutions for the purposes of their research... READ MORE

 

3D/GB Competition at Dinosaur Isle

5/09/13: From JISC: GB/3D Type Fossils Online blog...
One of the museums participating in the 3D printed fossil competition is Dinosaur Isle. At Dinosaur Isle there is a slightly different competition running, to try and spot which is the real claw of the dinosaur Neovenator, and which is the claw that has been made by the British Geological Survey using a 3D printer. They have taken what was originally a white plastic cast, and painted it to match the colours of the real fossil. The real fossil and the cast have been put together and marked A and B and all you have to do is recognise which is which... READ MORE

 

Campaign for Good Curatorship

From Collections Link...
The Campaign for Good Curatorship is an initiative to promote the crucial role of curators and curatorship in making museums and their collections useful, relevant and sustainable for the public benefit. Join this Group to show your support, share your views and connect with other Collections Link users to debate the future of curatorship. Museums have a vital role to play in a healthy, tolerant and inclusive society. We believe that all museums need good curators and that maximising public benefit comes from a balance between community engagement and expertise in the objects pertaining to that community’s heritage. Good curators understand their collections and use this knowledge to improve the impact, value and sustainability of all of the outward-facing functions of the museum. We are inspired by the vision of museums as open, participatory places... READ MORE

 

Petitioning The international Museum Community

From Change.org...
Great museums need good curators. Good curators have expertise about their collections, their subject disciplines and their relevance to society. They use this knowledge to create rich, meaningful experiences for our audiences and users. The public has a right to expect great museum experiences built on authoritative expertise, which encourage them to learn and share what they know. We call on the international museum community to recognise the need for good curators, to invest in curatorial expertise and make a commitment to sustaining curatorship for the benefit of society... READ MORE

 

Dinosaur pop quiz

6/09/2013: From The Geological Society of London's blog...
We’re pretty excited about our British Science Festival event next week [9th Sept], ‘Stranger than fiction? Dinosaurs, Monsters and Myths‘. Not only are we hearing from two palaeontologists, Dr Phil Manning and Dr Joanna Wright, about how they reconstruct dinosaurs, but we’ll be joined by Frame Store’s Mike Milne, the graphics brain behind Walking With Dinosaurs since the very beginning, AND two award winning Sky documentary producers, Vicky Coules and Steve Nicholls.  Don’t miss it if you’re in Newcastle! To get you in the mood, we present: Dinosaurs in popular culture, The Quiz! You are all welcome to steal it for your own dinosaur themed gatherings/pub quizzes/quiet nights in... READ MORE

 

Wanted: Museum to save fossils from extinction

30/08/2013: The Times of India...
KOLKATA: Around 200 scientists are pressing for a national museum of natural history in India on the lines of the Smithsonian National History Museum in Washington DC to preserve 'orphan collections' or fossils and other geological objects excavated by researchers of various institutes who have since retired that risk becoming extinct again. They fear these collections would not be preserved properly once they retire...READ MORE

 

Stupid Curators: Why we should listen to the public

28/08/2013: From Maurice Davies Blog...
Two media stories caught my attention this week - both featuring museum curators being incredibly stupid and members of the public being incredibly sensible. The first was on CNN’s website, where journalist James Durston provoked dozens of comments with a piece titled Why I Hate Museums. His article is marvellously provocative, the key point being that he finds museums rather dull, or as a user named baniadam101 writes: “For a normal regular person, I am one of those who agree with the author; museums need to change and adapt, they are indeed boring. I like to go to museums, but soon get bored.” So how do the profession’s finest respond to these thoughts from their users? READ MORE

 

Diary of a microfossil curator - part 1

16/08/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
My work diary of last week, in which members of the public put a valuable part of the collection at risk with their smart phones, tiny floating snails cause a flurry of visitors and microfossils are mentioned on the Test Match Special cricket commentary(!) in a varied week for the curator of micropalaeontology... READ MORE

 

Fabulous fossil Fizzy the Ichthyosaur returns to Doncaster Museum after conservation

14/08/2013: From Culture24...
An extinct marine reptile with a strong resemblance to a shark, still containing its final meal before it died and afflicted by a flipped fin, has become Doncaster’s newest 183-million-year-old resident following complex conservation work. Known by curators as Fizzy, the Ichthyosaur has had two upper arm bones removed by Nigel Larkin, the palaeontologist behind the CIRCA interpretation project which has already seen a number of prehistoric aquatic specimens switch from the South Yorkshire town to Scarborough...READ MORE

 

200 million-year-old fish fossils return to Scarborough after "extended vacation"

12/08/2013: From Culture24...
A block of 200 million-year-old ammonites and several “very rare fish”, found in Whitby 180 million years ago but almost impossible to collect these days, are returning to Scarborough after a 50-year stay in Doncaster. Curators say the Yorkshire-crossing journey for the 55 fossils – conserved as part of a project, CIRCA, paid for with an £82,000 Esmée Fairbairn Foundation grant – has been a “holiday” for the little-known school of ancient specimens....READ MORE

 

How many specimens are there in the Museum?

7/08/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
According to January 2013 figures on their websites, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has more than 32 million specimens, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington over 126 million  and the Natural History Museum over 70 million. Do we really know how many specimens we have here at the Museum? Are these figures meaningful and does it matter if we haven't estimated correctly? READ MORE

 

Launching 3DGB type fossil online database

1/08/2013: From the GCG JiscMailing list...
The JISC funded GB3D type fossils online project will be launched to the public at a London press conference on Thursday 22nd August 2013. Thousands of 3D digital fossil models, plus several thousand quality images, many in 3D, will be available for anyone to download for free, and to enjoy on their computer, tablet or phone – maybe even 3D print. To mark this important first, we are running a free competition for the public at a number of museums around the country. Between Thursday 22nd August and Thursday 12th September, visitors are invited to spot the 3d-printed fossil hidden amongst the fossils in the museum displays and enter a drawer for a “VIP behind the scenes museum tour”. The overall national winner will also receive a tablet preloaded with 3D fossils.

We can accommodate a few additional museums. We will supply participating museums with a 3d-printed fossil, suggested label, competition entry forms, a stock of giveaway cards and 3d glasses, and a draft local press release. We will handle the national publicity. Participating museums will handle their own press releases and local publicity, issue and collect competition entries, arrange their local drawer and provide VIP behind the scenes tours for five local winners (and at least one parent each, if appropriate), and forward the winning entries to BGS for the national drawer. It is not necessary that the museum has participated in the type scanning project, but they must possess a geological collection and support the idea of opening up access with online databases. If you are interested in participating, please contact Mike Howe (Phone: 0115 9363105  Email: mhowe@bgs.ac.uk).

 

MA Cuts survey

9/07/2013: From the Museums Association...
The Museums Association (MA) has launched its Cuts Survey 2013, a series of questions designed to gauge the health of the sector across the UK. The MA is inviting everyone who works in museums, at any level and any type of museum, to fill in the survey. Last year's cuts survey found that 51% of museums had had their budgets reduced, while 11% had closed whole sites permanently. Maurice Davies, the MA's head of policy and communications, said: "The MA survey is the only way of getting an overview of the impact of cuts. It includes all sorts of museums from throughout the UK. We use the survey to make the case for museums all year long. I urge everyone reading this to go to it right now and complete it for your museum". The Cuts Survey closes on 5 August 2013...To take the survey please click here

 

Thin sections come home

From Guernsey Museums...
The recent Geological Curators Group meeting in Guernsey was not just an opportunity for museum staff to swap ideas. Thanks to colleagues from one of the national museums it also allowed us to acquire some interesting items for the collection. These will allow us to shed light on an aspect of Guernsey's history which will be completely foreign to most people. In order to explain why (and make clear the pun in the last sentence) a short history lesson is needed...READ MORE

 

Conodonts - the most controversial microfossils?

12/06/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
Conodonts are extinct phosphatic microfossils that 'look like' teeth and are used extensively for dating rocks roughly 500-205 million years old. Ever since they were first described as fish teeth by C. H. Pander in 1856 they have caused arguments over how they should be classified and, nearly 150 years later, continue to do so. Read on to find out if they really are teeth, why they are so difficult to classify, give names to and even decide which way up they should be!...READ MORE

 

A thousand years of building with stone

A Thousand Years of Building with Stone  is a three-and-a-half year project looking at the everything from castles and bridges to parish churches, barns and cottages. We are aiming to trace the sources of the stone for these buildings and hopeful to rediscover some lost quarries, to engage the public with their local stone-built heritage and the geology that underpins the distinct regional character of towns and villages both in terms of landscape and built environment...READ MORE

 

Lyme Regis 'Coastal Treasures' Fossil Festival 3-5 May 2013

The 2013 Lyme Regis Fossil Festival will celebrate out Coastal Treasures. Lyme Regis sits at the heart of the Jurassic Coast, England's only Natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. We won our UNESCO status thanks to the magnificent cliffs that stretch from Exmouth to Swanage, exposing not only the Jurassic Lias but also the Triassic and Cretaceous layers. (Yes, we should really be called the Mesozoic Coast...) A visit to different points along the coast will not only let you see 185 million years of the earth's history, but also give you access to many different kinds of fossils, from the gigantic to the microscopic...READ MORE

 

Happy Museums! Museums and Happiness research report

From NMDC newsletter May 2013...
The Happy Museum has published a report by economist Daniel Fujiwara on the happiness cost benefit of museums and the arts, using information drawn from Taking Part data. Director of the Happy Museum project Tony Butler said “Qualitative research has been used by museums as effective advocacy, often influencing the hearts and minds of decision makers at local level. However, we think that quantitative evidence that robustly uncovers cause and effect is more likely to influence policy makers.” The report measured the individual wellbeing value of museums at over £3,000 per year and gives an extensive explanation of how that figure was arrived at...READ THE REPORT (pdf)

 

Museums Association report on public attitudes to museums

From NMDC newsletter May 2013...
A report commissioned by the Museums Association explores what the public thinks museums should be for. It is the result of a series of workshops across the UK, attended by 90 members of the public. Spontaneously mentioned essential purposes included care and preservation of heritage... mounting displays and creating knowledge for and about society. People also thought that museums should create economic benefit through tourism and regeneration as well as giving individuals educational opportunities. Low priorities included... protecting the natural environment. Some proposed purposes were challenged by the public. They felt that museums should have a neutral voice and not hold controversial debates. The Museums Association say the report will feed into their larger Museums 2020 initiative...READ THE REPORT (pdf)

 

A year in the life of a collection

29/04/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
The end of March and start of April at the Museum marks the end of our reporting year so I thought I'd report on the news from the micropalaeontology collections over the past year. This includes details of national press coverage, exhibitions, loans, acquisitions, disposals, visitors, university teaching, projects by artists and answers to big questions about past climates....READ MORE

 

Museum meteorite CT scans help prepare for space missions

29/04/2013: From NHM News...
A meteorite from Mars is a rare thing - even the Natural History Museum's world-class collection has only 13. Scientists are planning robotic missions to Mars to collect more Martian samples. But what is the best way to study these precious objects once they're returned to Earth? One method is to use CT scanners, and scientists at the Museum are producing incredibly detailed images that are impressing scientists all over the world. They are working with colleagues at the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency to find the best way to look after and study Martian samples brought back from future missions. Investigating Mars samples will be key to finding out things such as whether there was ever life on Mars....READ MORE

 

Will Watts introduces the Scarborough Speeton plesiosaur

26/04/2013: from Culture24...
Curator's Choice: Will Watts introduces the Scarborough Speeton plesiosaur, recalling a bitterly cold, ten-day excavation on a North Yorkshire beach...READ MORE

 

Beneath and Beyond at MOSI: Seismic sound and video installation

22/03/2013: Culture24...
Beneath and Beyond at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, March 29 – June 30 2013: Violent upheavals aside, we are generally unaware of the moving earth beneath our feet. Beneath and Beyond seeks to reveal how noisy our planet is, potentially triggering discussions about social, cultural and ecological issues. Live seismic recordings of the Earth – including those beneath Greater Manchester – help create this unique sound and video installation...READ MORE

 

Seeing inside a pterosaur skull

21/03/2013: NHM News...
The inside of the skull of a 100-million-year-old pterosaur has been seen by Natural History Museum fossil experts for the first time. Computed tomography (CT) scans revealed details of the ancient flying reptile's braincase that will help scientists discover more about its behaviour. The skull belongs to the extinct species Anhanguera - an Early Cretaceous fish-eating pterodactyloid with a long snout and a wingspan of 4-5 metres. The fossil skull, uncovered in Brazil, is half a metre long and is displayed in the Museum - the only Anhanguera fossil on public display in the UK...READ MORE

 

Isle of Wight girl Daisy Morris has flying prehistoric beast named after her

20/03/2013: BBC News: Hampshire and Isle of Wight...
A nine-year-old girl has had a prehistoric beast named in her honour after fossilised bones she found turned out to be an undiscovered species. Daisy Morris from the Isle of Wight stumbled upon the remains on Atherfield beach four years ago. A scientific paper stated the newly discovered species of pterosaur would be called Vectidraco daisymorrisae....READ MORE

 

How to CT-scan a microfossil

20/03/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
One of the most amazing things about working at the Museum is having access to world class facilities to support my work, whether that be managing the collections or doing research. Members of the Imaging and Analysis Centre have been analysing an important foraminiferal type specimen using the Museum nano-CT scanner. This produces a 3-D rendition of something less than half a millimetre wide and helps with classification of this important species that has potential to date rock formations, show past climates and ocean conditions...READ MORE

 

BBC Countryfile visits the Lyme Regis Museum

03/03/2013: From Lyme Regis Museum blog...
Last Thursday (28 February), the long-running BBC series Countryfile visited Lyme Regis and met some of the Museum staff. The Museum's geologist Paddy Howe (seen on the left with Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury) was involved in filming on the beach between Lyme and Charmouth, and was also filmed in his workshop preparing a small ammonite specimen...READ MORE

 

CFP: 1st International Conservation Symposium-Workshop of Natural History (Barcelona: 18-20 September 2013)

Call for oral presentations and posters for the 1st International Conservation Symposium-Workshop of Natural History now open. Deadline 30 April 2013. Further details regarding the cfp are available here and information about the event can be found on the non-GCG Meetings page.


Museum nannofossil image illuminates British Museum exhibit

27/02/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
It feels strange recommending readers to go to another museum. However, this is a great example of the application of Micropalaeontology to archaeological studies and the use of our nannofossil collection. My colleague Tom Hill has just returned from a meeting on 'Geological applications in Archaeology' so this subject is receiving a lot of interest at the moment...READ MORE

 

Reading the rocks

27/02/2013: From GSL's blog...
Over the last few weeks, a number of news stories have highlighted the impact geoscience has on our everyday lives in the UK. But how do you interpret these stories for your own lives? How much do you really need to know about Earth sciences to benefit from our planet’s resources or protect yourself from its hazards? And how geoscience literate are you really?...READ MORE

 

Sedimentary my dear Watson

25/02/2013: From GSL's blog...
During the last month or so, I’ve been cataloguing the ‘Merriman Collection’ (ref: LDGSL/1088) from our archives. The collection of 412 glass lantern slides, primarily dating from 1880s-1910s, was donated to the Society by Mrs Mary Merriman in 2002 after being found languishing in a garden shed for decades. Around half of the slides relate to one of our Fellows, Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), an Anglo-Ceylonian who later abandoned a promising geological career (he discovered the mineral thorianite) to devote himself instead to the history of Indian and Ceylonese art, culture and philosophy...READ MORE

 

How do you become a curator?

15/02/2013: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
I'm very excited to see that the Museum is running a half term activity called Curious Collectors. As a child I would have loved this as I was an avid collector and had my own rock collection under my bed. Some of my Geology undergraduate colleagues may even remember me at the end of a field trip to Cyprus sitting next to an enormous pile of rocks I had collected and telling me 'you can't possibly take ALL those home on the plane...READ MORE

 

Sad news of the loss of Phil Doughty

We have recently been informed of the death of Philip Doughty,former Head of Science and Keeper of Geology in the Ulster Museum. Read the notice here



100 year old Microfossil Christmas Card

24/12/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
Last year I posted some images of microfossils sent as Christmas cards by Arthur Earland (1866-1958) to his collaborator Edward Heron-Allen (1861-1943). Following my post I was contacted by Brian Davidson who now owns Arthur Earland's collection. He visited the Museum in October and brought with him some fine examples of Arthur Earland's foraminiferal slides. It is 100 years since the creation of one of the Museum slides and the story of Earland and Heron-Allen, their collaboration and their subsequent falling out has been published in The Independent newspaper and subsequently the BBC Focus web site. ...READ MORE

 

Field Museum Petition

24/12/12: From Paleonet@nhm.ac.uk
With regard to the Field Museum's plans (see previous entry below), please sign the online petition to FMNH leadership at https://www.change.org/petitions/richard-lariviere-ceo-and-president-field-museum-of-natural-history-protect-research-at-field-museum-of-natural-history-chicago, and leave a comment if you can.

 

Field Museum to cut staff, overhaul operations and limit research scope

18/12/12: From The Chicago Tribune...
Battered by the recession and a high debt load, the Field Museum on Tuesday announced plans to cut staff, overhaul its operations and limit the scope of its research. A comprehensive plan being drawn up by museum officials also could include changes to its hours of operation and the admission price for special exhibits. Staff reductions would be aimed at curators and scientists, according to museum officials....READ MORE

 

How a Blaschka specimen got from cardboard box to Museum Treasure

30/11/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
The new Treasures Cadogan Gallery opened at the Museum this week with an iconic specimen from the micropalaeontology collections displayed prominently in the first case you come to when entering from the left-hand-door. Just over 10 years ago, this beautiful glass model of a radiolarian made in Dresden in 1889 by father and son Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, was housed in a cardboard box and hidden behind the scenes at the Museum...READ MORE

 

Room without elephants

22/11/12: From Museum Development Northwest blog...
Elephants in the Room acquainted us with the sorry support and lack of change that natural history collections have received over the last 30 years. Although many museums have received small sums for reviews of their natural history collections from the Esmée Fairbairn Effective Collections scheme, much is still to be done....READ MORE

 

HOGG website

The History of Geology Group has a new (ish - about a month ago) website: historyofgeologygroup.co.uk

 

Lapworth Museum wins heritage lottery grant and seeks volunteers to help shape its redevelopment

15/11/12: From University of Birmingham news...
The Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Development grant of £130,000 to progress plans to apply for a full grant for a major redevelopment project to create a significantly improved visitor experience and widen its access to young people, the public, and schools...READ MORE

 

What do microfossils tell us about the first humans in Britain?

14/11/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
In July my colleague Tom Hill welcomed a group of Archaeology students from the University of Birmingham to the Museum. On their tour they were shown some microfossil slides collected by retired Museum micropalaeontologist and current Museum Scientific Associate John Whittaker from various important archaeological sites showing evidence of the first humans in Britain. I've picked out three key sites where the microfossils in the collection help with dating the finds and reconstructing the environment and climate of these first human settlements in the British Isles....READ MORE

 

Do you use ‘Curate’ when ‘Organise’ will do? Well you shouldn’t…

31/10/12: From UCL Museums and Collections Blog...
Inspired by my colleague Mark’s excellent blog ‘How to tell an archaeologist from a palaeontologist’ (read it here) I thought I’d dedicate my blog to my own particular bug bear: The use of the word ‘curate’ and title ‘curator’.....READ MORE

 

Predicting pyrite decay

16/10/12: GCG Jisc Mailing List
As there isn't a definitive guide one can turn to that lists sites yielding specimens likely to suffer from pyrite decay if storage conditions are less than ideal I would like your help to put together some guidelines that could be published in the Geological Curator / NatSCA or somewhere similar.

If you have had fossil or mineral specimens suffer from pyrite decay please get in touch (see below) and give me the details. Also, tell me about any sites and/or geological horizons that you know yield specimens that suffer particularly badly or easily from pyrite oxidation, even if you know of only a few examples. This includes minerals as well as fossils. A locality name is
essential (as detailed as possible, but if all you have is ‘Whitby area’ that will do) and include as much stratigraphic information as you have. It would be useful if you could indicate the sort of material, i.e. ‘ammonites’ or ‘marine reptiles’ etc and (it is usually unlikely one would know the following) whether the pyrite decay is active only in the matrix surrounding the specimen, or only within the specimen, or in both.

Also, please send me references for any published papers you know of relating to pyrite decay. Please ask ex-curators and other relevant colleagues for their input. The more people that contribute, the more reliable and useful the end result will be.

I will put all the information together and will publish a list of sites known to produce particularly susceptible material. This would be a useful starting point for curators either wanting to round up material to put in a better (low RH) microclimate or those wanting to check targeted parts of their collection once a year...READ MORE

Please contact Nigel Larkin: nrlarkin@easynet.co.uk

 

Vast microfossil teaching collection loaned to university

11/10/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
Over the last month or so we have been preparing a large microfossil teaching collection for loan to the University of Birmingham to support a new postgraduate masters course on Applied and Petroleum Micropalaeontology. The collection consists of 730 slides and over 2,500 countable specimens housed in a single cabinet...READ MORE

 

New proof that Museum meteorite comes from Mars

11/10/12: NHM news
New research on the Natural History Museum’s Tissint meteorite reveals evidence of its Martian origin, scientists report in the journal Science today. Museum scientist Dr Caroline Smith holds the newly arrived Tissint Martian meteorite Museum scientist Dr Caroline Smith holds the Tissint meteorite. It is now the largest Martian meteorite in the Natural History Museum collections. The Tissint meteorite came from the Martian crust and contains traces of Mars’ atmosphere and surface alteration, according to the international team, led by Prof Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane from the Hassan II University, Morocco, and including the Natural History Museum’s meteorite expert Dr Caroline Smith...READ MORE

 

10 Steps to mass digitisation

3/10/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
I have just read an excellent blog article by Nick Poole about the Smithsonian Digitisation Fair in Washington. I gave a talk last December about the cost of mass digitisation at the Annual General Meeting of the Geological Curators' Group at Leeds Museum and feel inspired to jot down the thoughts of a curator in the middle of a mass digitisation project. Here are my 10 steps to mass digitisation dealing with some of the pitfalls, how we have managed to overcome them, a timeline and finally an estimate of the cost of this mass digitisation project...READ MORE

 

GB/3D type fossils online project news

18/09/12: GCG Jisc Mailing List
Dust off your fossil types..... the JISC funded GB/3D type fossils online project would like to visit you!

The project partners are busy photographing all their UK macro-fossil type specimens, including close-ups and labels. In most cases they are also taking stereo-pairs for anaglyph production. They are laser scanning about 10% of the specimens to produce downloadable digital models. Please see the project blog for the background to the project and for some free downloadable digital models - http://gb3dtypefossils.blogspot.co.uk/ . Next year a web portal will be released, linking all the fossil registration details (including identification, locality, age, registration number, repository, etc.) to the images, stereo-anaglyphs and 3D digital models.

The Geological Curators’ Group is now trying to track down the UK type macro-fossils held in other collections and museums around the country. We would like to visit as many collections as possible with our mobile cameras and laser scanner to photograph and record all the available types, and make them available through the web portal. All the material will be clearly badged with the holding institution’s logo, which will link to contact details and access information, thereby helping to open up the collection for worldwide study. At a time when collections are being increasingly required to justify their existence, this is a good way of raising their profile and demonstrating the international scientific importance of material they hold. All collections will be provided with copies of the photographs and digital models of their material to do with as they wish; the images and models on the web portal will be available for free download under a Creative Commons  – Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike licence.

We would like to hear from any museums and collections interested in joining the project. We also have a budget available to help cover the cost of the collection staff involved (£200 per day, on a first-come first-served basis). Please email me (GB3D-Fossils@bgs.ac.uk ) with information about the types you hold, including the approximate number of specimens, or if you wish to receive further information. Where a collection has just a few types, and they are considered safe to travel, we would ask you to consider loaning the material to BGS for the work to be done in Keyworth.

Please consider joining what is becoming a very exciting development...READ MORE

 

ICHSTM Congress CFPs: Geology in Art and Literature and Geologists in the Field

12/09/12: From SHNH...
Call for papers: two symposia on the history of geology, to be held at the ICHSTM Congress in Manchester, 22-28 July 2013. Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15/10/12...READ MORE
Symposium 1) S112 - Geology in Art and Literature: Proposals for 15-minute papers are invited for a symposium on Geology in Art and Literature. The symposium is convened by Ralph O’Connor (UK) and Noah Heringman (USA).
Symposium 2) S113 – Geologists in the Field: Proposals for 15-minute papers are invited for a symposium on Geologists in the Field. The symposium is convened by Leucha Veneer (UK) and Martina Kölbl-Ebert (Germany).

 

Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

14/09/12: GCG Jisc Mailing List
In case you haven’t already seen the Corsi collection of decorative stones website, all 1,000 stone samples in this early 19th century collection can be viewed online at www.oum.ox.ac.uk/corsi. Development of the website was generously funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and we hope it will be a very helpful resource for identifying and researching polished stone. Please let me know what you think of the website, and whether you find it useful...READ MORE

 

Wenlock Edge Quarries: National Trust campaign to save the Quarries

22/08/12: GCG Jisc Mailing List
Find out more about the National Trust's campaign to save the Wenlock Edge Quarries...READ MORE

 

Largest Meteorite to Fall on Britain?

17/08/12: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum...
From September 10, 2012, a 90kg meteorite, possibly the biggest to have ever fallen on the British Isles, will go on display at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. Mystery surrounds the history of the meteorite. For at least 80 years it sat near the front door of Lake House (at Wilsford-cum-Lake near Salisbury). When the house was sold, the stone was confirmed as a meteorite by the Natural History Museum where it remained in storage for many years. Professor Colin Pillinger, famed for his work on the Beagle 2 Mars spacecraft, had been studying a smaller meteorite from the Danebury Hill Fort in Hampshire and felt that there could be a connection between the two. The meteorite from Lake House was retrieved from storage and although the two objects were found to be unrelated, Colin has continued with his study of the larger meteorite.....READ MORE

 

Ostracod Collections at the Natural History Museum

10/08/12: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
Large donation of ostracods helps answer big questions: In 2011 we accepted a donation of 2,500 microscope slides containing over 90,000 ostracods from the personal collection of Prof. Richard Dingle. Richard has been visiting the Museum for almost 10 years now and has organised, documented and subsequently donated this major collection....READ MORE

 

Swap shop: skills sharing in museums

09/08/12: From the Guardian's culture-professionals-network...
The Natural History Museum and Hunterian have been swapping staff members. At a time when museum staff and museums are vanishing and public sector institutions are under pressure to provide high quality services with restricted resources, London Museums Group (LMG) has been investigating how museums are reacting to the emerging landscape...READ MORE

 

Hazardous Substances in Collections Conference

From ICON events page...
Icon Metals & Care of Collections groups are joining forces to produce a one day conference for this autumn on Hazardous Substances in Collections. The aim is to tackle issues of identification, storage and disposal on a range of hazardous materials, in addition to highlighting recent changes in HSE legislation with regards to radiation and asbestos. There will be 10 presentations, 30 minutes each, covering various aspects of hazardous substances in collections....READ MORE

 

Muscle reconstruction reveals how dinosaurs stood

20/06/12: From NHM News...
Much is known about the dinosaurs that walked on 4 legs like Stegosaurus and Triceratops, but their stance has been a topic of debate, until now. Scientists at the Natural History Museum have revealed how these dinosaurs stood for the first time, and report their findings today....READ MORE

 

Nothing Is Set In Stone

19/06/12: From NaturePlus...
The experimental composer used striped rock known as angel stone (or gneiss) to create her sculptural installation. Nothing is Set in Stone was unveiled today, 21 June, at Fairlop Waters in Redbridge on the outskirts of London. As the listener approaches the sculpture, he or she hears fragments of the musical score in waves, passing through the solid rock. Researchers from the Museum's imaging and analysis laboratory helped the artist investigate the sound system needed for the installation... READ MORE

From Nothing Is Set In Stone...
Mira Calix’s Nothing Is Set In Stone is a musical sculpture made of gneiss stones. The monolithic installation will stand at Fairlop Waters, a nature reserve in the borough of Redbridge between June 21st and September 9th 2012. This interactive sculptural song invites the public to contemplate the modulations within nature and the ephemeral quality of music... READ MORE

 

Familiar with Geological Collections? Please take this Questionnaire!

06/06/12: From Geo-HeritageScience...
As part of an MRes Heritage Science dissertation on values associated with geological collections a questionnaire has been devised: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/geoattitudes. A more detailed description of my MRes project and its aims is included in the questionnaire itself...READ MORE

 

Survey on the values associated with geological collections

06/06/12: From the GCG Jisc Mailing List....
An interesting thread concerning the values associated with geological questions survey (above) has been started on the GCG Jisc Mailing List...READ MORE

 

How much is a microfossil worth?

30/05/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
The quick answer is anything from less than one pence to several thousands of pounds. The value of a specimen depends on a number of factors; market value, recollection value, as well as its historical and scientifical significance. Valuations are needed for insurance purposes before we loan specimens for exhibitions or to scientists. Here are some thoughts on how to put a monetary value on microfossils...READ MORE

 

Rotunda Museum explores mega footprints of a region in Scarborough's Lost Dinosaurs

28/05/12: From Culture 24...
Exhibition: Scarborough's Lost Dinosaurs, Rotunda Museum, Scarborough, until September 2013. If any English region can lay claim to thick-skinned prehistoric prominence, it’s Scarborough’s coastal climes. Two-foot long megalosaurus footprints – embedded in huge boulders from 160 million years ago – and tri-toe markings in sandstone trackways have been among a lengthy list of distinctly Jurassic telltale signs found in the area. And this exhibition asks the question each new discovery poses: why have so many traces remained when so few bones have materialised?...READ MORE

 

Controversy over sale of fossil material

22/05/12: From Dinosaur Tracking...
A few weeks ago, Heritage Auctions announced that it had a tyrannosaur to sell. The assembled and articulated Tarbosaurus was expected to fetch nearly a million dollars at the May 20 auction. Paleontologists shook their heads in dismay: Such specimens typically come with very little documentation and often end up in private collections, lost to researchers and the public alike...READ MORE

18/05/12: From USA today...
Mongolian officials are protesting a Tyrannosaurus skeleton headed for the auction block on Sunday in New York, suggesting that it was illegally smuggled out of their nation...READ MORE

 

Giant robotic dinosaurs gear up for Age of the Dinosaurs blockbuster at the Ulster Museum

09/05/12: From Culture24...
As most younger museum visitors know, any big dinosaur exhibition worth its salt must have a mechanically driven  “animatronic” dinosaur or two to enthral both kids and parents alike.
Faithfully adhering to this recent post-Jurassic Park tradition, and ahead of its summer dinosaur blockbuster Age of the Dinosaur, the Ulster Museum has spent the past week installing a huge, 1.5 tonne animatronic Tarbosaurus into its exhibition halls – with a little help from animatronic experts at The Natural History Museum...READ MORE

 

"In our time", Early Geology, BBC Radio 4 on IPlayer

18/04/12: From GEONEWS...
This is a radio programme about the history of ideas and on 12 April it was about early geology. At the end Melvyn Bragg and his guests agreed that geology emerged as a profession at the end of the 18th Century...LISTEN HERE

 

CFP: Hazardous Substances in Collections Conference

18/04/12: From the GCG Jisc Mailing List....
Abstracts of 250 words are invited for submission by April 30th 2012. The Metals & Care of Collections groups are joining forces to produce a one day conference for this autumn on Hazardous Substances in Collections. The aim is to tackle issues of identification, storage and disposal on a range of hazardous materials, in addition to highlighting recent changes in HSE legislation with regards to radiation and asbestos. Papers are invited for 30 minute presentations on any aspect of hazardous substances in collections .....READ MORE

CFP: Appreciating Physical Landscapes: Geotourism 1670 - 1970

18/04/12: From GEONEWS....
Appreciating Physical Landscapes: Geotourism 1670 - 1970 at the GSL, UK, 22-23 October 2012.This conference will cover topics such as early reportage of elite travelers in the 17th century, the publication of the first travelers’ guide-books, first modern landscape and geoconservation measures, such as national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, national nature reserves, and the emergence of environmental interpretation and modern countryside leisure as precursors of modern geopark infrastructures. Please submit your papers for this event until 30 April 2012... READ MORE

 

Open Culture 2012

02/04/12: From Collections Link...
The Collections Trust’s flagship conference, OpenCulture 2012 (26-27 June 2012 The Kia Oval, London) is the culture community’s only event dedicated to Collections Management. The cutting-edge conference programme will be covering topics such as audience development, digitisation, storage, standards, environmental management and many more! With nearly 30 high profile speakers from across the sector, no other event brings you as much quality content as we do. A jam-packed programme designed with collections management issues in mind means that this is an opportunity you just can’t afford to miss!  Find out more and book your place .....READ MORE

 

Spirit of Scott team united with rocks from epic expedition

29/03/12: From NHM News...
On 29 March 1912, 100 years ago today, Robert Falcon Scott wrote his last diary entry on his return from the South Pole. He and his polar party team never returned from their epic Terra Nova expedition. Their bodies were found with 16kg of geological samples. These rocks were important scientific specimens that the team had collected and hauled along on their arduous Antarctic journey......READ MORE

 

What does a microfossil curator do?

07/03/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
I'm so tempted to say that a microfossil curator attends meetings and writes e-mails. Sometimes it feels like that. I decided to document a typical day back in January where e-mails and meetings helped prepare towards a loan for an art exhibition, gave news of a potentially exciting new acquisition and a possible research opportunity involving micro-CT scanning...READ MORE

 

Mighty Martian meteorite lands at Natural History Museum

08/02/12: From The Natural History Museum...
A rare Martian meteorite that could help unravel the mysteries of Mars has arrived at the Natural History Museum in London today, obtained with the support of a donor. The meteorite is the largest piece from a shower of stones that fell to Earth in Morocco last July, near the village of Tissint. The Tissint meteorite weighs 1.1kg and is now the largest Martian meteorite in the Museum's collections...READ MORE

 

Museums hear fate after 29 bid for share of £60m Renaissance money

24/01/12: From The Guardian's Culture Cuts blog...
Winners include Brighton, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge. Losers include Sheffield which warns of job losses and a fall in exhibition standards. Arts Council England has named 16 organisations as winning bidders for a share of £60m Renaissance money which is given to the nation's museums... READ MORE

24/01/12: From the Museums Association: Maurice Davies blog...
Today’s announcement of major museum funding from Arts Council England (ACE) is generally sound. It’s reassuring that by applying strict criteria and a transparent process ACE has arrived at a pretty well-balanced portfolio of major partner museums - with one or two exceptions... READ MORE

 

Lost Charles Darwin fossils rediscovered in cabinet

16/01/12: From BBC News...
A "treasure trove" of fossils - including some collected by Charles Darwin - has been re-discovered in an old cabinet. [View the BGS Hooker slide collection] The fossils, lost for some 165 years, were found by chance in the vaults of the British Geological Survey HQ near Keyworth, UK...READ MORE

 

Stolen meteorite recovered in New Mexico

13/01/12: From the Claims Journal via the Global Museum...
A meteorite that landed in Russia in the 1940s and was recently stolen from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque has been located. After the meteorite went missing, the museum contacted an association of meteorite collectors and a Missouri man responded that he had bought it for $1,700...READ MORE

 

Dorchester Dinosaur on the move

12/01/12: From Dorchester Dorset blog...
Dorchester will get its first television appearance of 2012 when it is featured on Channel 5 show The Removal Men later this year. The programme will follow one of the most unusual assignments ever undertaken by removal specialists Pickfords, when they were tasked with transporting a life-sized model triceratops belonging to the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester... READ MORE

 

How to get a fossil named after you

09/01/12: From NaturePlus: Curator of Micropalaeontology's blog...
According to Giles Miller: The easiest way is to make friends with a Palaeontologist who is good at discovering things and is looking for names to call their new finds. A slightly harder way is to find a new fossil species and give it to a Palaeontologist who names it after you.  (In case you were wondering, it is against the rules to call new discoveries after yourself). Just before Christmas I had a visit from my old friend Stuart Sutherland from Canada who named a fossil after me back in 1994. I have four fossils named after me and have named some after others too. Here are the stories behind each of them... READ MORE

 

Mineral theft from Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

03/01/12: From GCG JISC Mailing LIst...
On December 10, 2011, there was an early-morning break-in at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Six specimens were stolen from a display case in their Mineral Hall. These included a 2.9-carat faceted benitoite, a large specimen of benitoite and neptunite, two gold nuggets and two specimens of crystallized gold...READ MORE (pdf file opens in new window)

 

Top 10 science and nature 2011 news stories from the NHM

27/12/11: From the Natural History Museum....
From a rare dual-sex butterfly and an exciting new addition to the human family tree, to a striking electric-blue lobster and a new horned dinosaur, here are the top 10 favourite 2011 science and nature news stories from the Natural History Museum website....READ MORE

 

New geological discovery paves the way for further insight into the transport of Stonehenge rocks

From NMW News...
A new paper in Archaeology in Wales, produced by Dr Rob Ixer of Leicester University and Dr Richard Bevins of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales confirms, for the first time, the exact origin of some the rhyolite debitage found at Stonehenge. This work could now lead to important conclusions about how stones were transported from Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge...READ MORE

 

130 million-year-old Iguanodon dinosaur bone found in Sunderland back garden

13/12/11: From Culture 24...
A "bizarre" bone from a dinosaur which walked the earth 130 million years ago has gone on display after being spotted among tree roots in a Sunderland back garden...READ MORE

From Tyne and Wear Museums...
A dinosaur bone has been found in a Sunderland back garden, thought to be from a dinosaur called Iguanodon which grew up to 10m long...READ MORE

New horned dinosaur hidden for 90 years at NHM

6/12/11: From the Natural History Museum...
A new species of horned dinosaur has been discovered after being unnoticed in the Natural History Museum collections for more than 90 years, scientists report today...READ MORE

 

NHM Treasures Gallery to display Archaeopteryx

20/11/11: From the Natural History Museum...
The fossil that confirmed Darwin’s theory of evolution, Archaeopteryx, will be displayed for the first time in a new gallery called Treasures, opening at the Natural History Museum in November 2012...READ MORE

 

Archaeopteryx - missing link between birds and dinosaurs comes to National Museum Cardiff

18/10/11: From the National Museum of Wales...
Was Archaeopteryx a bird or a dinosaur? So far only 10 specimens have ever been found (plus one isolated feather), all from the same area of Germany. Now one of these original specimens known as “The Phantom” (because it was known about but never seen) will be on display in the UK for the first time. This is an exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Archaeopteryx, the famous feathered fossil known as the ‘missing-link’ between dinosaurs and birds...READ MORE

14/10/11: From Culture 24...
The fossil that confirmed Darwin’s theory of evolution, Archaeopteryx, will be displayed for the first time in a new gallery called Treasures, opening at the Natural History Museum in November 2012...READ MORE

 

NHM Archaeopteryx "is the specimen to refer to"

3/10/11: From the Natural History Museum...
The spectacular Archaeopteryx fossil specimen at the Natural History Museum has been declared the official representative of the Archaeopteryx lithographica species, scientists report today... Experts at the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) ruled that the Museum specimen, which shows the almost complete skeleton of the magpie-sized creature with imprints of the wing and tail feathers, should be the type specimen, rather than a fossil of a imprint of a single feather that previously held the title...READ MORE

From the ICZN...
After five years of controversy, the fossil bird Archaeopteryx lithographica is to be officially represented by the spectacular specimen held by the Natural History Museum in London. This changes the primary reference, or type specimen, from an impression of a small fossil feather to the complete bones and feathers in a large limestone slab. The ruling is announced by theInternational Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) in its latest publication, out today...READ MORE

 

 

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