Posted by: henrymcghie | January 8, 2010

Work begins on the new gallery!

This week we have really started work on the actual structure of the gallery. Since the museum opened in 1891, many cases have been added and modified. We want people to be able to see the original structure more easily, so we are taking these cases out. For the last two days, conservators (people who work on keeping objects in a stable and safe condition) have been taking the seals, whales and dolphins out of one of the cases. This is partly as a test, to see what the floor is like underneath and how much work is involved, and so that the conservators can work on the condition of the specimens. The animals are all from the nineteenth century and are stuffed. The preserved skin covers an artificial body made of plaster and the animals have realistic glass eyes.

The case contains some absolutely fascinating objects, but the stories behind these have not previously been told on the labels.  One  of the objects is the skeleton of a Beluga- a small white whale from the Arctic. We know this skeleton was on display in the museum as long ago as 1899 as it is mentioned in a guide book.

Another interesting specimen is the Walrus. You’ll see that we only have its head! This is because it was a trophy. Somebody- we don’t know who- probably shot it and then preserved its head. Our new gallery will focus much more heavily on people’s relationships with nature, so the Walrus head is a good talking point.

I am really interested to know what people think of the preserved animals in the photos and how these relate to living animals in the wild. What do you think about this?

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