It now looks that the breeding attempt by Peregrine Falcons in the clock tower has failed. All indications were that eggs were laid during late March and early April and if all had gone according to plan, they should have been hatching about now (eggs are usually incubated for 31-33 days). Unfortunately, no birds have been seen at the nest or perched nearby on the clock tower for several days now so it seems certain that the nest has been abandoned. We do not know why this breeding attempt has failed but the most likely cause is that the eggs have been eaten by predators, perhaps crows, ravens or gulls. Although peregrines only raise one brood each year it remains possible that the birds will make a second attempt to breed and we remain vigilant in case that happens.
13 WEEKS TO GO! WASHING PAPER. PART II
Last week we introduced you into the wonderful world of washing paper. This time, we are going to show you a video where you are able to enjoy a real process.
The lithograph prints were mounted in poor quality mounts and for that reason we decided to remove all of them. The prints were attached to the backing with an animal glue along the very top edge on the back. When put in a bath of water it can be removed easily with the brush. That is what you are going to watch in the video. Enjoy!
Super Scientist Awards 2014
Ninety five schools across the UK will be awarded Super Scientist Certificates from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales this year, in recognition of their contribution to the Spring Bulbs – Climate Change Investigation.
Huge Congratulations to all these schools! They are listed below, is your school listed?
Thank you to every one of the 4200 pupils who helped this year! Thank you for working so hard planting, observing, measuring and recording - you really are Super Scientists! Each one of you will receive a certificate and Super Scientist pencil, these will be sent to your school around the middle of May.
Many thanks to the Edina Trust for funding this project and helping to make this all happen!
Well done to our three winners for sending in the most weather data! Each will receive a class trip of fun-packed nature activities.
- Ysgol Clocaenog in Wales
- Abronhill Primary School in Scotland
- Dallas Road Community Primary School in England
Each school will receive a gift voucher to purchase lovely things for your gardening projects.
- Ysgol Gynradd Cross Hands in Wales
- Wormit Primary School in Scotland
- The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School in England
Each school will receive certificates, pencils, flower seeds and herb seeds.
- Abergwili VC Primary
- Archbishop Hutton's Primary School
- Arkholme CE Primary School
- Balshaw Lane Community Primary School
- Bleasdale CE Primary School
- Burscough Bridge Methodist School
- Carnforth North Road Primary School
- Christchurch CP School
- Combe Primary School
- Coppull Parish Church School
- Cutteslowe Primary School
- Darran Park Primary
- Freuchie Primary School
- Gladestry C. in W. Primary
- Glyncollen Primary
- Kilmaron School
- Raglan VC Primary
- SS Philip and James CE Primary School
- St Athan Primary School
- St Blanes Primary School
- St Ignatius Primary School
- St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Leyland
- St Mellons Church in Wales Primary School
- St Michael's CE (Aided) Primary School
- St Nicholas Primary School
- St Patrick's Primary School
- Stanford in the Vale CE Primary School
- Ysgol Bro Eirwg
- Ysgol Deganwy
Schools with special recognition
Each school will receive, certificates, pencils and flower seeds.
- Auchengray Primary School
- Britannia Community Primary School
- Cawthorne's Endowed Primary School
- Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor
- Culross Primary School
- Greyfriars RC Primary School
- Holy Trinity CE Primary School
- John Cross CE Primary School
- Llanishen Fach Primary School
- Red Marsh School
- St Anne's Catholic Primary School
- St Laurence CE Primary School
- Woodplumpton St. Anne's Primary School
- Ysgol Gynradd Dolgellau
- Ysgol Terrig
- Ysgol Y Plas
Schools to be awarded certificates
Each school will receive Super Scientist Certificates and pencils.
- All Saints' CE Primary School
- Balcurvie Primary School
- Ballerup Nursery
- Blenheim Road Community Primary School
- Brockholes Wood Community Primary School
- Brynhyfryd Junior School
- Catforth Primary School
- Chatelherault Primary School
- Cleddau Reach VC Primary School
- Cobbs Brow Primary School
- Coed-y-Lan Primary School
- Flakefleet Primary School
- Glencairn Primary School
- Golden Hill School
- Henllys C/W Primary
- Hillside Specialist School
- Ladywell Primary School
- Lakeside Primary
- Lea Community School
- Manor Road Primary School
- Manor School
- Milford Haven Junior School
- Newport Primary School
- Pinfold Primary School
- RAF Benson Primary School
- Rogiet Primary School
- Rougemont Junior School
- Scotforth St Paul's CE Primary School
- St Bernadette's Primary School
- St Gregory's Catholic Primary School
- St John's CE Primary School
- St Nicholas C/W primary school
- Trellech Primary School
- Tynewater Primary School
- Woodstock CE Primary School
- Ysgol Bro Tawe
- Ysgol Glan Cleddau
- Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn
- Ysgol Nant y Coed
- Ysgol Rhys Prichard
- Ysgol Santes Tudful
- Ysgol Sychdyn
- Ysgol Y Berllan Deg
- Ysgol Y Faenol
Daffodil Drawing Competition 2014
Congratulations to the following pupils who produced some excellent botanical drawings! Winners will receive Bird watching kits with mini binoculars.
- 1st: Abbey – Coppull Parish Church School
- 2nd: Louise – SS Philip and James CE Primary School (Pink 3)
- 3rd: Amelie – Stanford in the Vale CE Primary School
Well done, you have all done an AMAZING job.
Constable goes down a storm in Cardiff
Last week we created a storm in the galleries at National Museum Cardiff with our Easter workshops. Families who took part got to make their own pop-up landscapes inspired by John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831. This activity was part of the Aspire programme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund.
Here are some of the mini masterpieces created.
We were impressed by the variety of skies! Some were stormy and brooding. Others filled with colour and light. Butterflies, bees, and a murder of crows all made an appearance – and, of course, some beautiful rainbows.
If Constable were alive today he surely would have approved! For him the sky was the most important part of a painting. It creates feelings, mood and emotions. I wonder what mood our families were in when they created theirs?
Whatever mood they were in at the time, they left the workshop feeling happy! Families were asked to complete the sentence ‘the workshop made me feel...’, and to hang it on our specially-created comments cloud. ‘Happy’ was the most popular response! Here are some others:
The workshop made me feel…
- Happy happy and I loved it a lot - Jack
- Interested because I like learning about Constable
- Hapus fel y gog achos rwy’n hoffi celf a chrefft
- Welcome ♥
Find out more:
Explore Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831 with this interactive guide.
Download a free pack for teachers from our Learning Resources page.
Download our Landscape and Lights family trail
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows was purchased by Tate with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Manton Foundation, the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation) and Tate Members in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, National Galleries of Scotland, and Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, 2013.
To secure the painting, a unique partnership initiative was formed between five public collections: Tate Britain, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Colchester and Ipswich Museums, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum and the National Galleries of Scotland. This initiative, named Aspire, is a five-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund enabling the work to be viewed in partner venues across the UK. National Museum Cardiff is the first venue to display the work.
Hope all of you had a good Easter!
Now is time to show you one of the most interesting process in paper conservation, the washing treatment. But, can we wash a sheet of paper once it is already made?? Yes, we can. Before washing we have to keep in mind how the art work was made, such as the stability of the ink, damage to the paper, etc. I need to test EVERYTHING to make sure I don’t wash it all away!
We only do the washing if the paper need it. In the lithograph prints we found some dirt, tears, folds, creases, stains and foxing*. Washing them would remove the dirt, some stains and foxing and at the same time would re-forms the hydrogen bonds between the fibres, reinforcing the paper strength and improving the appearance too.
After this process, we deacidified the prints to neutralize the acidity in the paper with an alkaline solution. The alkali reserve will remain in the paper, ready to act against future acidification.
*Foxing: reddish-brown spots (the colour of a fox) over the surface of the paper which can be caused by a mold activity or a chemical reaction due to metal impurities in the paper.
Exploring biodiversity in the Amazon
Adrian Plant continues his fieldwork in the Amazon in collaboration with Jose Albertino Rafael and Josenir Camara from INPA (Brazil’s national Amazon research organisation) in Manaus.
So far two field-trips to remote corners of the Amazon have been successfully completed. The first was to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira high up the Rio Negra not far from Brazil’s borders with Colombia and Venezuela and the second to a major tributary of the Amazon along the border with Peru at Benjamin Constant.
The forests of the Amazon Basin are flood forests; they become seasonally inundated by the flooded river and the waters bring with them many of the nutrients essential to the forests great productivity throughout the region. This year the forest remains unusually wet for the time of year which has caused a few practical problems for field entomology.- it is an acquired pleasure to slosh around in deep mud and water searching for new and interesting insects under a constant plague of biting mosquitoes. Yet, to an entomologist this is more or less a definition of “fun”!
The biodiversity is amazing of course and many of the insects seen and collected are undoubtedly new to science but will require much study in more comfortable surroundings after returning from the field. Meanwhile, Adrian will shortly be setting out on a third fieldtrip, this time to a little known area between the mouth of the Amazon river and French Guiana where many exciting discoveries will undeniably be made.
If you had been visiting London last week you would have noticed it was very smoggy, as if you were looking at everything through a dirty cloud! But what exactly is smog, and how is it different to fog?
What is fog?
Fog is a cloud on the ground! It is a natural part of the weather. It is lots of very tiny water droplets floating in the air. Fog helps plants by providing moisture and does not harm you if you breathe in.
What is smog?
Smog is a kind of air pollution. Smog is created when fog mixes with smoke and chemical fumes from cars and factories. Some of the chemicals in smog are toxic – this means poisonous! It is harmful to plants and animals and can be dangerous if breathed in.
The recent smog in London is a mixture of fog and pollution and a third ingredient – sand from the Sahara desert! The Sahara desert is a huge desert in Africa. Some of the desert sand is very, very small, like dust. Sometimes wind storms sweep up the dust and blow it thousands of miles to the UK. It’s amazing how far it travels!
Unfortunately, this mixture of fog and pollution and desert dust means that the London smog is not good for your lungs, and has made some people ill. Smog is one very good reason why we should all try to reduce air pollution!
So what can you do to help reduce air pollution?
Think about air pollution… What causes it? Can you think of 3 things you can do to reduce it? Why not talk about it in class and then click here to check your answers.
Your comments, my answers:
Glyncollen Primary School: Sorry we were late again. We had a busy week as we are going to Llangrannog. We have had great fun doing this investigation. We can't wait to find out who has won the competition. We are going to tell the year3 class about it as they will be doing it next year. Thank you Professor Plant. Yr. 4. Prof P: Hope you had fun at Llangrannog! I am so glad you have enjoyed the investigation Glyncollen. Thank you so much for taking part!
Ysgol Clocaenog: Pen wedi disgyn ffwrdd! Athro'r Ardd: Wedi colli ei ben!
Gladestry C.I.W. School: Although the flowers were open earlier in the week, they have closed up again at the drop in temperature. Prof P: I can tell that you have learnt a lot about your planrs Gladestry, well done!
16 weeks to go...
Let me introduce myself, my name is Mar Mateo Belda, I’m a paper conservator and after working in different cultural institutions in Spain, Nicaragua, Cuba and the United States, I’ve got a traineeship at the National Museum of Wales.
The purpose of this traineeship is to carry out conservation of the 66 lithographs from the portfolio “Efforts and Ideals” in 1917 that will be exhibited at the beginning of August 2014 with the title “The Great War: Britain’s Efforts and Ideals”.
Let’s get the show on the road!
I’m sure that for most of you, paper conservation sounds like interesting and weird all at the same time and for that reason you need to watch this space to find out what it is and what I’m doing.
The first step we follow before carrying out the conservation treatments of the works is making a condition report to assess the conservation condition of each of them. The next step is to photograph them all to capture the initial condition of the prints.
Collecting Seaweeds in Ireland
By Kath Slade
The marine team are back from their fieldwork to West of Ireland with lots of specimens to sort through, including seaweeds. The timing of fieldwork was chosen to coincide with several very low tides, allowing us to sample species lower down the shore, which are less adapted to long periods out of water. We still had limited a time to sample around low water (approx. 2 hours).
The lower shore holds many of the red seaweeds, such as Sea Beech (Delesseria sanguinea), Fine-Veined Crinkle Weed (Cryptopleura ramosa) and Bonnemaison’s Hook Weed (Bonnemaisonia hamifera).
Immediately after collection, there was a fair amount of processing to do, as seaweeds don’t last long out of their natural habitat on the shore. Many were floated out in trays of seawater in order to spread all of the fronds (“leaves”) out, before being transferred and pressed onto conservation grade cotton paper. The specimens were stacked together, and between each layer we had blotting paper to soak up the water. The stacks of seaweed were then placed into large plant presses, just like those used for flower pressing. Each day the blotting paper was changed to remove as much water as possible. When we returned to the Museum, we placed the plant presses in drying machines to speed up the process and prevent the seaweeds from rotting.
Some seaweeds are difficult to identify from external characters alone. For these species, small portions were collected and placed into silica gel. This dries the seaweed much quicker than pressing so that the DNA is better preserved enabling molecular work to be carried out at a later date. Others were preserved in formalin, which removes the colour of the seaweed but preserves the cell details and the seaweed’s 3D structure. Further identification work, will now be carried out back at the Museum.
All this preparation allows us preserve the seaweeds for future scientific studies. The specimens go into the Welsh National Herbarium (plant collections) at the Museum, and each provides evidence of what seaweeds are present at a particular locality at a particular time. The pressing process is so effective that specimens keep for hundreds of years.
Collections Reviews in Wales
Collections reviews are a hot topic in museums these days, and for good reasons. Reviews form an integral part of collections management. Last October on this blog, I introduced a number of recent reviews of natural science collections. Now it’s time to talk about the Welsh Museums Federation’s approach.
The dry bit first: we developed a methodology that reflects the constraints of the project. And they are pretty tight: we needed to undertake 20 reviews with an average time allocation of two curator days each. This means getting an overview of holdings, assessing their significance, and identifying any collections needs in a single day. We adapted UCL’s significance toolkit rather than using the more recently published CyMAL assessment. We felt that this better reflected the questions we were asking and the constraints of the project. If you want to know more about the methodology, please get in touch with the 'Linking Collections' project manager.
‘Linking Collections’ was conceived because natural science collections up and down the country are, generally speaking, relatively neglected and in need of TLC. We have found that this really is the case. In some cases, specimens were lovingly repackaged in acid free tissue in good boxes – and then not checked for ten years because of lack of specialist curatorial expertise, sometimes with spectacular results. If you work in a museum you know all about this; you are likely to have seen things no mortal eye should ever have to witness.
Let’s focus on the review process itself. It’s quite simple really. A pre-review questionnaire sent to partner museums early last year collected information about scope and approximate size of collections. This then formed the basis for a decision on how many and which curators (reviewers) to send to each museum. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales very kindly provided ‘Linking Collections’ with expertise in the form of specialist curators; the National Museum is now the only museum in Wales with specialist natural science curators.
The project manager acts as the match maker and organises the (review) dates. At the museum, each reviewer is
paired up with a local member of staff or a volunteer – in either case somebody who either already is, or will be in future, working with the natural science collection. In this way, the reviewer benefits from local knowledge of physical access to the collection. At the same time, the local staff/volunteers get hands-on training in object handling and a deep insight into their collection from the reviewer. This way of working not only speeds up the process of working through a collection; it also forms an important part of the training element of ‘Linking Collections’, as one of the main aims of the project is to improve the local understanding of natural science collections.
While the reviewer assesses the objects, the assistant fills in the EXCEL data matrix on a laptop. The data matrix asks for a definition of a ‘review unit’ as well as its size (a unit can be a single specimen or an entire cupboard full of specimens); information about provenance, the collector, collection date. We then record any information about local relevance and historic notes, as well as a simple indication of conservation state, documentation, quality of packaging and any potential health and safety issues. Then there is a block of columns with significance assessments, on a traffic-light-scale, regarding different levels of importance (local to international) and value (scientific, historic, educational, …). Finally, the reviewer also records an initial recommendation for potential use of the review unit.
The information we get from this assessment helps determine the potential of each collection. It will also enable to identify gaps in collections that could be addressed, in the future, through the museum’s collecting strategy. And because the approach is consistent between 20 museums it will be possible to compare these collections directly, and see how they complement each other, or whether there are similar problems affecting them. This last point is particularly important in the context of establishing the Distributed National Collection in Wales, which is what this project is all about.
Follow 'Linking Natural Science Collections in Wales' on Twitter @LinkinCollWales or Facebook.