Posted by: henrymcghie | March 1, 2017

Extinction or Survival?

At Manchester Museum… Hello everyone! Last week I went to the press release preview of Manchester museum’s new exhibition – ‘Extinction or Survival,’ and it was so goo…

Source: Extinction or Survival?

Posted by: henrymcghie | February 20, 2017

White gulls dependent on ice are disappearing from the Arctic

Melting sea ice may be one of the factors driving ivory gulls to whiter pastures as they search for food

Source: White gulls dependent on ice are disappearing from the Arctic

Posted by: henrymcghie | February 20, 2017

Why Our Connection with Nature Matters

Nature is good for us, but why? There’s plenty of evidence that exposure to nature is good for people’s health, well-being and happiness – with green spaces even promoting pro-social behaviours. Ho…

Source: Why Our Connection with Nature Matters

Posted by: henrymcghie | February 20, 2017

2017 Global Infectious Diseases Threats to the United States

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases co-Editor-in Chief Peter Hotez predicts the major infections that will threaten the US in the coming year. By the fall of 2015 it was pretty clear that Zika virus infection was going to threaten much of Latin America and the Caribbean, and shortly thereafter I wrote how 2016 would become the year of Zika, highlighting the vulnerability of our US Gulf Coast, Texas and Florida. Insect-transmitted diseases in Texas, Florida, and the US Gulf Coast.  Zika transmission has begun in South Texas and it will likely continue into next year.  Indeed, we have to be alert for the likelihood that Zika transmission will become widespread next summer as Aedes aegypti populations predictably rise again. I also fear that we missed multiple Zika outbreaks in 2016 due to lack of federal funds and active surveillance across the US Gulf Coast.  We won’t know the full extent of the 2016 Zika outbreak until next spring if and when microcephalic babies appear on obstetrical

Source: 2017 Global Infectious Diseases Threats to the United States

Posted by: henrymcghie | February 16, 2017

Recently there have been calls for a petition for a GCSE in Natural History, and today an alert for new research that informs and supports this proposal arrived in my inbox. The paper in Education Sciences explores how connection with nature and scientific knowledge influence pro environmental behaviour – ultimately an essential reason for a GCSE in Natural […]

via Supporting a GCSE in Natural History — Finding Nature

Posted by: henrymcghie | November 6, 2016

Extinction or Survival? – The Giant Panda

Manchester Museum’s new exhibition, Extinction or Survival? is now open. Today’s blog is a guest post by Henry McGhie, Head of Collections and Curator of Zoology, taking a closer look a…

Source: Extinction or Survival? – The Giant Panda

A strong connection with nature lies at the heart of a healthy life and a healthy planet – but how do we increase people’s nature connection? That is my research focus and such increases need to be…

Source: 3 Good Things in Nature – A simple way to improve connection with nature

Posted by: Rachel | November 1, 2016

A busy week of consulting!

Herbology Manchester

All the curators have been out and about over half term, in Manchester and beyond! We’re helping to spread the word about our new museum development plans. We want to hear what people think about our plans to build an extension to the Manchester Museum. It will house a new permanent gallery focusing on the history and culture of South Asia as well as a new exhibition space for host blockbuster shows. If you want to find out more, keep track of our progress on our Courtyard Project blog.

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We’re organising the World Symposium on Climate Change Communication, to be held in central Manchester on 22-24 February 2017, organised jointly with Prof Walter Leal of Manchester Metropolitan University. The conference is aimed at everyone interested in how we can  communicate and engage people effectively on climate change: its causes, impacts and links to collective and personal behaviour. The conference aims to:

  1. provide research institutions, universities, NGOs, cultural institutions, government and development aid agencies and enterprises from across the world with an opportunity to display and present their works in the field of climate change communication.
  2. to foster the exchange of information, ideas and experiences acquired in the execution of climate change communication initiatives and projects, especially successful initiatives and good practice across the world.
  3. to discuss methodological approaches and experiences deriving from case studies and projects, which aim to show how climate change communication may be implemented in practice.
  4. to network the participants and provide a platform so they can explore possibilities for cooperation.

The conference is international, and a wide spread of perspectives and approaches are especially welcomed, from any related discipline. The conference is aimed at researchers, NGOS, funding agencies, and practitioners working in the field of climate change engagement in the broadest sense, including educators, curators and government agencies.

We have a call for papers and other presentations open now until 30th October.

If you’re interested, come along.

Posted by: henrymcghie | September 10, 2016

Dear Diary- exhibitions, talks and projects

A lot of this week was spent thinking about the exhibitions programme for our expanded temporary exhibitions gallery, due to open in 2020, and how to break that down into components: what success would look like for our various target audiences, how far people will travel to see particular exhibitions (and how to find that out), what the strengths (and weaknesses) of our current exhibitions are and so on. Rachel Webster, Curator of Botany, and I went to National Museums Scotland on Friday to visit the brilliant Celts exhibition, developed in partnership with the British Museum, to see what we could garner that would help with our own redevelopment project.

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Wolf from ‘From the War of Nature’, one of our recent temporary exhibitions (2014)

I also spent a bit of time preparing (or at least thinking about) various talks I’ve got coming up. Next week is the Tyndall Assembly and I’m the pre-dinner speaker, on communicating climate change, and bridging policy/strategy and people’s lived experience. The week after that I’ve got another conference at the University of Reading on Object Lessons and Nature Tables.  My own offering is about how history can be used flexibly in museums, drawing on examples at Manchester Museum (I’ll write more on this after the conference), and how curators, historians of science, artists can and have approached history. This conference follows on from the University Museums Group annual conference, also at Reading, on the subject of partnerships and international working.

We had a planning meeting for a project I’m involved in, ‘Encountering the Unexpected’, with the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries at the University of Leicester. This is a great project, which explores how natural heritage collections can/could help promote active ageing, by helping people connect with nature. This is very timely, as there’s plenty of movement regarding the recognition of the value of nature for promoting people’s wellness; this is also important for nature, as support for and valuing nature is linked with positive attitudes towards the sustainable use of nature, which is something I’m especially interested in. The project is based around three Exchanges (we’ve already had the first one), then museum partners set up their own experiments/activities to test and evaluate different approaches to using their collections. The project has funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund and runs for the next 18 months.


I spoke with a broadcaster about Belle Vue Zoo, and some of the famous animals that once lived in the zoo but which are now preserved in the Museum. These include Maharajah, an Asian Elephant who walked with his keeper from Edinburgh to Manchester in 1872. A local artist recreated this journey last year, and we had an exhibition of his work around Maharajah’s skeleton this year. Maude, the wonderful and very beautiful Tigon from Belle Vue Zoo, and which we had mounted by a taxidermist last year, is another ‘celebrity’ from the Zoo.

A highlight of the week was a day’s Carbon Literacy training, along with a group of other staff, delivered by our own Carbon Literacy accredited trainers Michael Whitworth and Lynsey Jones. This is part of our commitment towards connecting with climate change activity and action, and all staff are to receive this training. This will enable us to become an accredited Carbon Literate Organisation, and we believe we’ll be the first carbon literate museum in the world. It was really well delivered, showed the enormity of the challenge and the need for action, and then we all looked at how we can be more environmentally sustainable through personal and group action. The timing of this was terrific, as our Climate Control exhibition ended last Sunday (although we’re going to leave up a lot of the materials from the exhibition to promote further action).


Climate Control exhibition (c G Gardiner)- people added black stickers to represent their carbon footprint.


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