The Geological Curators Group is very sad to learn of the tragic death of our immediate past Chair, Matthew Parkes.
Matthew died suddenly last Friday, 23rd October, and his family, friends and colleagues are devastated. Matthew was Chair of GCG for three years, stepping down in December 2019. He is shown here in his last official duty as Chair, presenting the The A G Brighton Medal to Monica Price. His massive contribution as Editor of the Geological Curator from 2007-2019 also cannot be understated.
A full obituary will be included in a future Geological Curator journal.
Further details concerning funeral details and condolences can be found here. The National Museum of Ireland has published an appreciation of his work on their website, https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/News/Matthew-Alastair-Parkes
We are sad to report the death of our friend and former colleague Don Steward, geological curator, GCG committee recorder around the early 1980s, and long-term GCG member and supporter. Don originally studied Geology and Zoology at the University of Reading, before studying for a Masters Degree in Oceanography at the University of Southampton. Following a spell in micropalaeontological research, Don entered the world of museums and curation at Bristol City Museum in the mid 1970s, where he worked as one of a small team of geologists. Don soon moved on to what is now the Potteries Museum in 1978, where he spent the rest of his career, until retirement in 2016. During these years at the Potteries, Don worked initially as Assistant Keeper of Natural History and ultimately as Senior Museum Officer (Natural History). The museum’s rich and diverse geological collections were a major focus of Don’s work; documentation, interpretation and publication. Don’s interests in geology always extended beyond the museum, through his extensive work on local geoconservation and site interpretation with the North Staffordshire Group of the Geologists’ Assocation.
We knew Don as a kind, friendly, thoughtful and highly knowledgeable natural science curator, always willing to share knowledge and experience, not least at regular get-togethers of the West Midlands Natural Science Collections Group. He’ll be greatly missed.
Jon Radley (Warwickshire Museum) and Vicky Ward (University of Leicester)
GCG were pleased to learn that the Black Country region, in the English Midlands, has just been awarded official geopark status by UNESCO. This is from their press release:
In the case of the Black Country, the significant part it played in the industrial revolution has been at the heart of the bid. More than forty varied geosites have been selected so far within the geopark that tell its story as a special landscape but more will be added as the Geopark develops. Geosites include Dudley and Wolverhampton Museums, Wrens Nest National Nature Reserve, Sandwell Valley, Red House Glass Cone, Bantock Park and Walsall Arboretum.
The project has been lead by Graham Worton, himself Black Country born and bred, and a former recipient of the GCG's Brighton Medal. Black Country fossils can be found in collections across the UK and in fact the world, with arguably the most famous being Calymene blumenbachi, more commonly known as the "Dudley Locust".
Congratulations to everyone who has worked on the project!
It will come as no surprise that the GCG committee has been affected by the current Coronavirus pandemic. Certainly the majority of our membership is now likely to be working from home and adjusting to new ways of doing things without direct access to our collections.
However we still intend to function as a committee, using whatever tools we can. You can still contact us using the contact details on our committee pages and we will do our best to answer you. Our JiscMail list is still functioning as always.
We will try to flag up links and resources that you might find useful. Right now, why not look at:
- We are still posting regular blog posts on our blog site at https://geocollnews.wordpress.com/
- The Museum Computer Network is compiling "The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources, E-Learning, and Online Collections" - have a look and do ask them to add any resources that you think are missing.
- In the UK, The Collections Trust is asking important questions about "Collections in Lockdown" and "Remote Access"
If you know of anything that could add to this list, let us know directly on
The GCG Committee were saddened to hear last week of the passing of Jenny Clack, whose work on the origin and evolution of early tetrapods will have been familiar to many of our members. The University of Cambridge has posted a short notice here
We would like to extend our condolences to Jenny's family and friends.