Climate Control: Marvellous Moths

Today’s post is by Becca and Laura from the Visitor Team at Manchester Museum. We are not experts, but we are people with a passionate interest in the museum and its objects. We each bring our own insight into Manchester Museum and its collections.

For more about public programmes and nature, please visit the Museum and curator blogs; Museum Meets, Nature ManchesterEntomology ManchesterPalaeo Manchester.


Come rain or shine, Manchester Museum is a great day out for young and old alike to explore our galleries and collections, and this half term had been no exception. Laura and Becca have seen the Discovery Centre transformed into a hive of crafting and creativity, with families being inspired by the story of Manchester’s peppered moth in the Museum’s newly opened Climate Control exhibition.

Climate Control: Marvellous Moths

This week in the Discovery Centre, we have enjoyed both the creativity of this week’s crafting and also the challenges of thinking about the world around us. The activity is based on the peppered moth which has become the symbol for change in our Climate Control exhibition, and it has been a really fun way of involving children in the themes and ideas of the exhibition, and a creative way of explaining climate change and the positive actions we can take.


We’re cutting our moths out of black and white card to show that moths that were once mainly white, following the industrial revolution, through natural selection, became predominantly black, as good camouflage against the blackened building, but following the clean air act, and the cleaning of many of Manchester’s buildings, they are now once again predominantly white. Some families have made one moth from each colour card, as a ‘before and after’.

But this is just the canvas for our visitors to get really, really creative – our finished moths are not just black and white and shades of grey, but a playful rainbow of colours! The great thing about these moths is that you can spend as much or as little time as you like, they can be simple or intricate, they all look good.

As well as telling the peppered moth story, we can also lead by example – this particular ‘make’ uses materials sparingly, with the offcuts and scraps making for great decorations and patterns for the moths of the opposite colour.

It has been lovely to see familiar faces, and to meet new families, many of whom were surprised that something like this happens here, and that it’s all free! This has been a great activity for parents and children alike, with mums, dads, grandparents and carers getting involved and having a go at making their own moth.


The best things about this week have all been about transformations…

Just as the changing colours of the peppered moth have reflected the and the changing colours of the buildings in the city of Manchester over the last century and a half, this week we have seen black and white paper transformed into hundreds of mini-masterpieces, while ideas about climate change have been transformed by promoting positive actions…

But most importantly we have seen transformations in confidence – children who started with “I can’t” or “it’s too difficult”, with some time resources and encouragement, have made artworks that they are really pleased with… but it’s not just the kids! There have been mums and dads who have come in with their children saying, “I don’t do craft”, but by sitting with their children, and getting involved have grown in confidence (and in some cases become really competitive!) producing some amazing family creations – so much so that some have been looking for ideas of what they can reuse and recycle at home, from newspaper to cornflake boxes, to continue crafting for the rest of the holiday.

Moths, moths and more moths!

This half term week has seen visitors making and taking home, but also crafting moths to leave at the museum as part of our growing art installation of peppered moths – exploring the idea that many people each making even a small contribution, together can make a big difference – one of the most important take-home ideas from the Climate Control campaign here at Manchester Museum.


Rebecca Horne and Laura Bennett

Drop-in drawing, art and craft activities take place in the Discovery Centre on weekends and during school holidays every day from 11am – 4pm, and it is a chance to get up close and have a really good look at some amazing objects, the perfect inspiration for some crafty creations!

 Forthcoming highlights include Climate Control Big Saturday on 30th July, and through the summer holidays the theme of activities will be Help us build a future Manchester”, as well as I-Spy Nature – crafty nature activities every Wednesday linked with our Nature Discovery gallery.

The Climate Control exhibition is open until 4th September 2016, and you can join the conversation now at #MMClimateControl

For more about public programmes and nature, please visit the Museum and curator blogs; Museum Meets, Nature ManchesterEntomology ManchesterPalaeo Manchester.

Read more from the Visitor Team about Climate Control:
Climate Control: Changes We Can See
Climate Control – The Polar Bear Fact File
Climate Control – Join the Conversation!


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