A Week in the Museum

In today’s Story From the Museum Floor, after spending a week with us on a work experience placement, high school student Kipp Money-Muter shares some of his impressions of Manchester Museum.

For more about how you can get involved at the museum have a look at our website.

A Week at Manchester Museum

Museums are places that accumulate and share knowledge in an attempt to encapsulate in their displays what has happened on this planet in its long history. Manchester Museum is no different. If you have ever visited then you will know how breathtaking it is on every floor, from ‘Stan’ the T-Rex downstairs to a recording of U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent out into space with the Voyager spacecraft in 1977 on the top floor. Each display has something you can learn from and educate yourself on – I think this is the main reason why it is so popular.

A replica of the ‘Golden Record’ sent out into interstellar space in board the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft on display in our Heritage Futures exhibition. And ‘Stan’ the T-Rex, on display in the Fossils gallery at Manchester Museum.

Behind the Scenes

My week was kick-started by a tour of some of the Museum’s fossil and mineral collections alongside the Visitor Team led by Curator of Earth Sciences, David Gelsthorpe. Amongst the many interesting objects we looked at, there were two stood out for me. The first was a diamond, the raw unpolished substance was amazing to look at, hold and feel. The second was amber.

Specimens of  Baltic amber in the stores at Manchester Museum, collected by a chemistry professor F. A. Paneth in Konigsberg, present day Kaliningrad.

If you are familiar with the Jurassic Park franchise you may have immediately thought of the creation of dinosaurs etc., but along with that probably being impossible, it wasn’t the only good part about the experience. Amber is a piece of fossilised tree resin that sometimes holds plant matter or insects that were unlucky enough to get stuck in the resin as it began to harden. The special part of this was that I got to see an insect (or in this case a spider) that had been trapped and suspended in amber for millions of years. It managed to show how different yet similar the world was then and is now.

Some examples from our rocks & minerals collection, including a piece of ‘blue John’ (right) on display in our Living Worlds gallery.

A Very Special Day

I am lucky enough that on the 210th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday, I got to hold a plant specimen brought back to Britain from his journey on the HMS Beagle. It is held in the Manchester Museum’s Herbarium, a treasure trove of knowledge, kept in the attic of the building.

‘A treasure trove’ – Manchester Museum’s Herbarium.

It was amazing to have the privilege of exploring this space. And to be able to hold in my hand a part of the famed expedition that changed the way the world sees life through the theory of evolution is amazing and something I’ve been trying to wrap my head around.

It is things like this that make the recording and storing of knowledge vital in helping younger generations understand the past.

Specimens collected by Charles Darwin, Herbarium, Manchester Museum.

My time at the museum has been incredible, and an experience I’ll never forget. As I said at the beginning, a museum’s purpose is to accumulate and share knowledge for the benefit of the public, and not only has it done that, but I’ve seen and learnt some invaluable lessons whilst on my placement here too.

Kipp Money-Muter

With many thanks to all the staff at Manchester Museum who worked with Kipp and made this such a memorable week!

 

Find out more:

The history of Manchester Museum

Get involved at the Manchester Museum

Preservation in amber

Charles Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle

The Heritage Futures research programme

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