A black stone from Derbyshire turned into pieces of art | Curator of Petrology

The Petrology collection at the Natural History Museum is home to about 189,000 specimens; from the rock collection to building stones, including ocean bottom deposits. The building stone collection is one of the largest documented collections of its kind in the UK, particularly useful for matching stone in historical buildings during conservation work. Beside rock samples, it features amazing pieces of art, like this paperweight in Derbyshire black marble executed by the skilled hands of one of the most prominent nineteenth-century marble makers of the time Thomas Woodruff.

E3864 Black Marble Paperweight
Derbyshire inlaid marble work by Thomas Woodruff in the NHM Petrology (Building stone) collection.

Continue reading to learn more about the marble masons in Derbyshire, the stone itself, the techniques used to create the objects, and the many other works of art created out of this stone such as Samuel Birley’s table in the V&A collection.

 

Continue reading “A black stone from Derbyshire turned into pieces of art | Curator of Petrology”

Remnants of ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ in a Museum drawer |Curator of Petrology

Some rare treasures are hidden within the Petrology collection of the Natural History Museum, and this brunch of a bush, encrusted with sinter, which formed prior to 1886 around hot springs on the shores of the old Lake Rotomahana (warm lake) in New Zealand, is one of them.

Siliceous sinter.BM 1911.1584-1
NHM petrology specimen of siliceous sinter encrusting a brunch of a bush, from White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana.

Read on to learn about the Pink and White Terraces, a natural wonder of the world, regarded by the Māori as a taonga (a treasure), their tragic fate and how specimens in the museum collection are helping current research. Continue reading “Remnants of ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ in a Museum drawer |Curator of Petrology”

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”

Unique samples in our collection from an island that disappeared | Curator of Petrology

Following my last post in the Curator of Petrology blog The island that disappeared, we take a closer look at the type of volcanic eruption that created the ephemeral island, the rocks produced by this type of eruption, and meet Empedocles – the submarine volcano that gave birth to Graham Island.

Continue reading “Unique samples in our collection from an island that disappeared | Curator of Petrology”

A spectacular limestone that sparks creativity | Curator of Petrology

Specimens from the Museum petrology collection, known as Pietra paesina or “Ruin Marble” have inspired artist Julie Derbyshire to create unique works of art.

Pietra paesina Ruin marble
Pietra paesina specimen in one of the portholes in the Earth Galleries at The Natural History Museum, London.

 

Read on to find out more about Pietra paesina, how it formed, and how it inspired Julie’s artwork.

Continue reading “A spectacular limestone that sparks creativity | Curator of Petrology”

The island that disappeared – the fascinating story behind our specimens from Graham Island | Curator of Petrology

The NHM petrology collection holds more than 126,000 specimens of geological and historical importance. We take a look at some historically important volcanic rocks that illustrate the story of a diplomatic fight over an island that disappeared.

Graham_island_specimens
Volcanic specimens from Graham Island held in the NHM Petrology collection

Read on to find out more in this post by our Sicilian Petrology Curator Epi Vaccaro about how the island formed, why it disappeared and the international dispute that it caused. Continue reading “The island that disappeared – the fascinating story behind our specimens from Graham Island | Curator of Petrology”

Sir David Attenborough unveils our latest acquisition | Curator of Petrology

A rare and intriguing example of sandstone known as a Gogotte, was generously donated to the Museum recently by Daniel Eskenazi and family in honour of Sir David Attenborough’s 90th birthday.

Gogotte_Eskenazi_Attenborough_Dixon
Daniel Eskenazi, Sir David Attenborough and Sir Michael Dixon at an event to celebrate the new donation. Photo © Dare & Hier Media Ltd / NHM London

Read on to find out more about how it formed, why we were presented it, why it is important and how we are using behind the scenes facilities to study it. Continue reading “Sir David Attenborough unveils our latest acquisition | Curator of Petrology”