97 year old fin whale vertebrae uncovered in Devon sand dunes

The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) was recently called out to the stranding of a harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, in Westward Ho! in north Devon. The porpoise was a suitable candidate to collect for post-mortem, and so plans were made for the strandings team to travel to pick it up.

As part of the trip to Westward Ho!, a ranger from Northam Burrows Country Park asked if the Museum was able to provide an identification on three whale vertebrae they had, to allow them to display the bones in their visitors centre. Little did anyone know the full story behind the vertebrae was about to be uncovered!

Continue reading “97 year old fin whale vertebrae uncovered in Devon sand dunes”

Museum at War: a snapshot of the NHM during WWI | Library and Archives

The centenary of the First World War (1914-1918) has generated a great deal of new research. It has brought to the fore stories that have enabled us to learn a lot more about our country’s history, many of which had, until this point, been widely unknown.

Marking this four year period has focused the minds not only of individuals but also businesses and organisations, encouraging us to take a closer look at the affect the Great War had on ordinary lives. The Natural History Museum is one such organisation, and October saw the publication of A Museum at War: Snapshots of life at the Natural History Museum during World War One written by Karolyn Shindler (Library and Archives Associate).

Continue reading “Museum at War: a snapshot of the NHM during WWI | Library and Archives”

Illustrating our Collections | Digital Collections Programme

Seven illustration and reportage graduates and two tutors from the University of the West of England (UWE) recently visited the Digital Collection Programme. We took them behind the scenes showing them our innovative technology and the entomology and botany collection in order to inspire their love of nature. In return, the artists renewed our creativity and enabled us to see our work with fresh eyes.

 ‘Witnessing the digitisation process was fascinating and knowing about the digital archive means I have a vast and rich resource to access’ Jay Simpson, UWE graduate

Continue reading “Illustrating our Collections | Digital Collections Programme”

Digitising our jumping plant lice | Digital Collection Programme

Guest blog by Robyn Crowther, Digitiser

After digitising our parasitic lice, we were looking for another microscope slide collection to digitise using the same methodology, having cut down our imaging time for each slide to 14 seconds. So when the opportunity to digitise the beautiful psyllid slide collection arose, we jumped at the chance. Continue reading “Digitising our jumping plant lice | Digital Collection Programme”

Portraits inspired by data |Digital Collections Programme

canvas ERN
An algorithm produced portraits of Museum visitors made up of digital specimens instead of pixels – zoom in to see the specimens in each image.

On Friday 28 September we took part in European Researchers Night and tried something new with museum visitors. We have been experimenting with recreating photographs that contain digital specimens in place of the usual pixels. Continue reading “Portraits inspired by data |Digital Collections Programme”

Patrick Russell’s 18th century volume of Indian serpent skins | Library and Archives

Museum paper conservator Konstantina Konstantinidou handles a large number of  items from the Library and Archives collection each year. Each object has differing needs and can offer a variety of challenges in regard to the work needed to be done. In this blog, Konstantina introduces us to an 18th century volume with rather unexpected contents. Continue reading “Patrick Russell’s 18th century volume of Indian serpent skins | Library and Archives”

Captain Scott’s rock from Antarctica an “open book” to a lost world | Curator of Petrology

Rock samples from Antarctica, collected by Captain Falcon Scott and his team during the British Antarctic Expedition otherwise known as the Terra Nova Expedition (1910 – 1913), are among the treasures of the Natural History Museum Petrology collection. A CT scan tells the story of a land, once warmer and rich in vegetation rather than the frozen and inhospitable Antarctica we know today.

Read on to learn about this rock in our collections, and the story it tells about this lost world. Continue reading “Captain Scott’s rock from Antarctica an “open book” to a lost world | Curator of Petrology”

CARAS visits the NHM | London Partnerships Manager

Hanouf El-Awari leading an Investigate session with visitors from the CARAS group

On 14 August 2018, the Natural History Museum welcomed a group from CARAS into the Museum for a special visit. CARAS is a community outreach charity based in Tooting, Wandsworth, who work with people of all ages from a refugee and asylum-seeking background, who live in South-West London.

CARAS had visited the NHM last year, doing a selfie trail. The group of thirty included young children and older adults, some of who were visiting the museum for the first time. The visit on 14 August included a short tour, an Investigate session, and a craft activity.

Continue reading “CARAS visits the NHM | London Partnerships Manager”

Digitising British Bumblebees |Digital Collections Programme

Bombus hortorum also known as the garden bumblebee displays a wide range of colour forms.

A bumblebee is any one of over 250 species in the Bombus genus, whose name derives from the Latin for a buzzing or humming sound. We have been digitising the Museum’s collection of British Bumblebees in order to release a new resource to those researching and working with Bees globally.  Continue reading “Digitising British Bumblebees |Digital Collections Programme”