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Natural History

November 2013

Kids take-over National Museum Cardiff!

Posted by Ciara Hand on 21 November 2013
evaluating the galleries
testing the activities
testing the activities
testing the activities

Last Thursday 14th November Year 6 pupils from Trelai Primary School took part in National Taking Over Museums Day - a celebration of children and young people’s contribution to museums, galleries and heritage sites across the UK.

The pupils worked with Learning Staff and Natural Science Curators at the National Museum Cardiff to help develop content for a new family science exhibition, which is due to open in July 2014.

Pupils gave us feedback on existing science galleries, chose objects for the exhibition and tested some potential activities for this hands-on exhibition.

It was a really successful day and the feedback from the children was so insightful, with lots of really useful ideas that will help inform our planning of the exhibition.

We’re really looking forward to inviting them back to the exhibition launch in July.

 

More information on Kids in Museums can be found here: 

http://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/takeoverday2013/taking-over-museums-2013/

Spooky Specimens!

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 8 November 2013
Botanists at work
Bats and Insects
Fungus!
Fungus models made by the general public
» View full post to see all images

On Wednesday 30th October, National Museum Cardiff came alive for a haunting day of Halloween fun. Curators (and witches!) from the Natural History department filled the main hall with spooky specimens from our collections to share with the public on a busy half term day.

The botanists made a real impression by opening up the Herbarium and creating a spooky graveyard of deadly plants. This was a real hit with the children who left repeating some of the delightfully ghoulish names to their parents such as “Stinking Hellebore!” and  “Bloody Cranesbill!”

The Fungus table had a case of wonderful wax models where you could match each fungus with its creepy name, such as the Trumpet of Death, Scaly Tooth and Witch Heart. Children, and adults, could make their own fungus with the colourful modelling clay provided, creating some amazing new species!

Two witches stirred their potion in a cauldron alongside an eerie ‘Herbs in Medicine and Magic’ display.  All Harry Potter fans would have immediately recognised the famous Mandrake, a plant often used in magic rituals due to its hallucinogenic properties, but there was no need for ear muffs as the real plant does not let out a fatal scream!

Marine and Mollusc curators put out an array of Halloween treats from ghost slugs and dead man’s fingers to blood cockles and pumpkin snails. Visitors enjoyed being able to touch sea urchins, spiny oysters and star fish. The pickled cuttlefish and squid were a real treat and produced a great mixed response, from awe to disgust, from children and adults alike.

The giant bloodsucking mosquito model dominated the Entomology stand whilst a witch displayed a table of British bats, from the largest Noctule to the smallest Pipistrelle.

Geologists enticed visitors with ‘fossils in folklore’, including echinoderms that were thought to be ‘fairy loaves’, and ‘dragon claws’ that come from dinosaurs. Those brave enough stayed to see the ‘Hell, Fire and Brimestone!’ stand which revealed specimens of larva, ash and volcanic rocks.

The Open Day was underpinned with an educational trail provided by the Education department. The trail took children around all of the displays, answering questions on blood stained petals and thunder stones, fungal fingers and tails of worms, to name a few. It was an excellent way to get families involved and encouraged children to interact with the curators. The trail proved to be extremely popular with 170 families taking part.

For those who wanted to know more, there was a scary ‘Dragons’ tour in the Evolution of Wales gallery and two behind the scenes tours of the Biology and Geology collections.

The day was a real success with 3127 members of the public coming through the museum doors. So, if you didn’t make it this time keep your eyes peeled on the ‘What’s On’ guide  for more upcoming Natural History Open Days throughout the year.

Blog by Harriet Wood

Alfred Russel Wallace

Posted by Julian Carter on 7 November 2013
Alfred Russel Wallace

Today marks the centenary of the death of the great naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. We are marking the occasion with our exhibition 'Wallace: the Forgotten Evolutionist?' which celebrates the many great achievements of this brilliant Welsh born scientist.

Come visit the exhibition or join in on some of our associated events and talks. You can also follow events and activities nationwide on the Wallace100 website.

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