VIP Cultural Explorers visit Manchester Museum

Today Year 5 pupils from Buglawton Primary School in Cheshire became one of the first schools to visit Manchester Museum as part of our new Cultural Access Programme.

The children were invited as part of our pledge through the CAP to reach out to new schools and entice more young people to connect with The University of Manchester’s Cultural Institutions; Manchester Museum, The John Rylands Library, Jodrell Bank and The Whitworth.


The children were fantastic investigators and relished the opportunity to handle real ancient Egyptian objects!

We hope the children will return to any of the 4 cultural institutions that are part of The University of Manchester and claim their VIP incentive too!

Well done to all the children at Buglawton Primary School, we hope to see you all again soon.


Exploring frogs with physics!

Last week we were very excited to run our annual ‘Frogs and Physics’ A level study days, which are part of our ‘Engage with the Experts‘ series. These days give A level students a chance to meet current researchers and experts to see how their passion for a subject could lead to cutting edge research.

Museum specimens showing colour adaptations





We started the day by considering why colour is important in nature. This was provoked by a range of beautiful entomology specimens displaying colour adaptations from Manchester Museum’s collection.

Colour adaptations spotted on our Live Animal gallery



The students then explored our Live Animal gallery, where a large variety of amphibians and reptiles are on display, to spot living examples of these colour adaptations. The gallery also contains a window showing some of the behind-the-scene conservation work in which the Museum is involved. Including breeding tanks of endangered Lemur Leaf frogs.


Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology, The Manchester Museum

Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology

During our first expert talk of the day, by our Curator of Herpetology, Andrew Gray, one of our red-eyed leaf frogs made an appearance to show off its impressive bright colouration. Andrew explained that amphibians in the wild are under threat due to a range of factors, such as a deadly skin fungus and climate change. He stressed how effective it can be when experts from a range of disciplines work together to tackle the large issues surrounding endangered animal conservation.

Mark Dickinson, from the Photon Science Institute at The University, explores the physics of colour

Mark Dickinson, from the Photon Science Institute



The current research being conducted by Andrew and Mark Dickinson, from the Photo Science Institute at The University of Manchester, is a brilliant example of this type of collaborative working.

In his talk, Mark explored the physics behind colour and explained how physics can help investigate the pigments within the skin of frogs.


The students got to investigat the physical properties of the frogs skin using non-invasive physics equipment

Using non-invasive physics equipment


In the afternoon the students visited the Photon Science Institute. They had the chance to see what a physics lab looks like and to use hi-tech spectrometers, infra-red cameras, and thermal imaging equipment.


Example of student comments from the days:

It was good to have the experts talk to us about their work, I also enjoyed using the equipment and looking at the equipment whilst walking through the lab’

‘Fantastic day!’

‘Thanks to staff and University students for taking the time to help’

If you would like to learn more about the conservation work Manchester Museum is involved with please visit Frog Blog Manchester 


Making a Good Impression with Roman Inscriptions


Great post on our activity with Widening Participation – who organised this Latin Study Day in collaboration with Andy Fear from the University of Manchester’s Department of Classics and Ancient History.
We had a great time and the students got a chance to try out their Latin skills on genuine objects in our gallery too!

Originally posted on Ancient Worlds:

Just got back exhausted but exhilarated from a really successful teaching session about Roman inscriptions with a class of children from both Manchester Grammar School and a Blue Coat School studying Latin and/or Classical Civilisation. The session was led by Dr Andrew Fear from University of Manchester Department of Classics. The idea was to engage schoolchildren with Roman material to help them with their studies and to encourage them to maintain an interest in things Classical.

Earlier this afternoon we divided the class into two groups and one half looked at making impressions from Roman inscriptions using the cliche mould or ‘wet squeeze’ method and the other studied some Roman coins that our Numismatist Keith Sugden had got out in advance for them.

sestertius of Trajan  (AD 98-117 ) obverse

sestertius of Trajan (AD 98-117 ) obverse

The cliche mould technique involves placing a sheet of blotting paper over an inscription and using a stiff brush to push…

View original 534 more words

School Network Choir performs as part of the fabulous ‘Wonderstruck’ event!

The Wonderful Network Choir sing in front of Stan

The Wonderful Network Choir sing by Stan the T-Rex.

On Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November Manchester Museum hosted a weekend of wonderful musical surprises popping up all over the building. Choirs from across Manchester joined forces with artists Daniel Bye, Sarah Punshon and Boff Whalley to create live performance and original songs inspired by the Museum’s collections. The fantastic children who form part of a local schools network choir sang their hearts out on our Fossils gallery by Stan, the T-Rex, culminating with all the choirs coming together for a grand finale in our Living Worlds Gallery.

This was a really special event that created a very exciting atmosphere throughout the museum all weekend. Many people noted how lovely it was to think about the collections in a new light and how it felt really wonderful to see live performance in this fantastic building.

I wanted to say a huge thank you to all the choirs who helped to create such a special experience for all the museums visitors, and a great big Well Done! to all the children and their families for taking time out of their precious weekends to take part and support this event, thank you.

What a really great weekend of musical surprises,


Grand Finale in Living Worlds, fantastic!

Grand Finale in Living Worlds, fantastic!

The North West Schools Science Competition

There is still time to enter the brilliant Science Competition run by the North West Business Leadership Team. Year 7 and 8 students get the chance to win an iPad Mini (and cash for their school) by submitting an email to on “Why I want to be a Scientist” in no more than 500 words. The closing date for entries is 6th November 2014.

Good luck to all students entering!NWBLT Science Competition

Exploring animals and their habitats with Year 4 children.

This week we had a wonderful visit from a year 4 class at Lower Place Primary School in Rochdale. They were avid explorers on our Natures Library gallery and in our revamped Vivarium space. We loved having you here Lower Place Primary School.

The children were fascinated by the wondrous variety of life and started to focus in on the key features that allow a variety of animals to survive, hunt for food and protect themselves from attack in their natural habitats.

Back in the discovery centre the children worked on creating their own animal by selecting which features their animal would need in order to survive in one of the 3 layers of the rainforest; forest floor, canopy or emergent layer. It was fascinating to see their ideas develop.

A collection of animals that gathered the best responses from the year 4 children are shown here. I think you’ll agree they are pretty amazing.

Can you spot the Frogs amongst the cleverly camouflaged coatings of their skin? Can you identify the features on the sloth that help it to cling on? How is the turtle’s shell useful to offer it protection?

If you would like to learn more about animals and their habitats please do look at the ‘Habitats and You’ session on our website using the link below.

IMG_0201                                             IMG_0209                                                                            IMG_0203

Real Life Science programme shortlisted for the Lever Prize 2015

Exciting news – our Real Life Science Programme here at Manchester Museum has been shortlisted for the prestigious Lever Prize run by the North West Business Leadership Team. We are getting ready to present to the judging panel on Monday. We’re a bit nervous, but excited and we also wish the other three organisations good luck!Real Life Science

A year of challenges and opportunities ahead

Though it feels like only yesterday that we waved off our final school visitors of last year, here we are looking forward to another hectic term and the exciting challenges and opportunities it holds. The beginning of the 2014/15 academic year brings with it a new challenge in the form of the revised national curriculum, a fact I’m sure teachers across the country will need no additional reminder of!

Exploring the new curriculum and identifying areas that the museum can best support has been top of the primary learning team’s agenda this year. One area that has stood out as particularly challenging is the KS2 programme’s ‘Changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age’ topic, and in March of this year we introduced our brand new session Dig It: the Mystery of the Thunderstone to cater to it. Exploring different aspects of the archaeological record from the Stone Age to the Roman period, this enquiry-based session gives children the opportunity to handle and investigate real Stone Age material, participate in a sandbox excavation and work in groups to discover and present the secrets of the Thunderstone.

Neolithic polished stone axe. Found in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. (25927)

The response to the workshop has been exceptionally positive, and feedback from teachers has helped us further hone the session to ensure it is covering the most relevant curriculum points. Teachers’ input into the development of sessions is absolutely crucial, and we would therefore encourage teachers to get in touch with any queries about the curriculum and how the museum might be able to support their class’ learning.

Finally, in very exciting news, we are pleased to announce that the Manchester Museum is working with the British Museum on their Teaching History in 100 Objects project; a series of online history resources created for use in the classroom. Each of the resources links to a particular object held in a museum collection in the UK, and we are privileged to have our wonderful Roman wordsquare, and Asru, our most famous mummy, included in the series. The diversity of objects is outstanding, ranging from 700,000 year old hand axes to 21st century protest posters, so please do take a look –

More information on our Dig It: the Mystery of the Thunderstone workshop can be found at, and if you would like to book a session please get in touch with Nora Callaghan on 0161 275 2630 or email

Opportunity for Creative Practitioner

What do these portraits tell us about ancient people?

One of the Greco-Roman Portraits

We are pleased to announce that we are recruiting for three Creative Practitioners in order to continue with our successful Art of Identity Project.

This fantastic opportunity is thanks to funding from  The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts who have recently agreed to fund Manchester Museum for a second year as part of their Start programme.

We are searching for three Creative Practitioners to help us deliver our project outcome of a physical or digital piece of artwork from each partner school on the topic of Identity. Project work will be taking place in either the Spring or Summer Terms and there will be a celebration event at the Museum to showcase the work.

If you would like to apply, take a look at our Creative Practitioner Brief, which will provide more details on how to apply.  Closing date for applications is Wednesday 3rd September at 5pm.

Any queries or inquiries please contact Cat Lumb.

If you are interested in seeing some of the work produced from our first year you can visit the Museum to see the students’ work which is displayed in our reception area until September 5th.

The Art of Identity 2014 Display of this year's student work

The Art of Identity 2014
Display of this year’s student work


Guest blog by our Y10-12 work experience students

In the last two weeks of summer term we had 8 fantastic work experience students with us in Years 10-12. The students were given a taste of the museum’s working life and wrote a bit about their experiences….

Two of our students, Matt and Emily, wanted to share their views as ‘newcomers’ to the museum:

We believe museums should encourage people of all ages to discover the life of people from the past, and how it has helped shaped today’s society. During our work experience we have seen numerous examples of how  Manchester Museum impressively makes the stories of history accessible to visitors. On our first day, we ventured down into the dark stores beneath the museum and we were able to see only a glimpse of the millions of artefacts the galleries do not display. This opened our eyes to the vast collections that often the public are not aware exist, and how carefully organised each object is.

Work experience weapons stores

Conservation is one of the Museum’s main responsibilities. It ensures the artefacts we see can survive for many years. During our second day, we spoke to Irit Narkiss about how she devotes her time to ensure the beautiful objects that the Museum holds are able to stay in such perfect condition. For many visitors, her work goes unnoticed, and we, being past visitors to the Museum, were surprised to find out that this is such a vital part of the running of the Manchester Museum.

Not only does the Museum display artefacts, it also strives to educate visitors on the origins and history of the objects, and how they were used in historical times. For example, the Museum runs an extremely successful primary school education programme, as shown by the large numbers of school children filling the foyer as we arrive every day. These programmes, however, would not run without the dedication of the primary and secondary learning teams based in the museum. On our first day, we talked to Emily Robinson, the Secondary Science Programme co-ordinator, who explained her role in the organisation of one of the many education schemes that the museum offers. We also helped Emily brainstorm ideas for the renovation of the Life Lab, a well-loved programme for secondary and college students.

By far the most essential element of the Museum is its ability to inspire. Everyone who visits, works at or admires the Museum is inspired by the collections and is left in awe by the fascinating stories attached to the objects. We have also been inspired during our internship. After only experiencing a couple of days work here, we have already fallen in love with the welcoming environment at the Museum. We look forward to the remaining time we have here.


Work experience art studio

Our two students Gabriel and Alice were really inspired by their visits to the museum’s stores:

In our week of work experience in Manchester Museum, we were privileged to have an insight into the hidden stores of artefacts and minerals that normal visitors do not have the opportunity to view in wonder. Unbelievably, only 0.05% of the museum’s collection is actually seen by the visitors! The museum has an extensive range of living culture artefacts, many of them that were unfamiliar to us, for example the Fijian Throwing Club, which to our inexperienced eye “looked like a flower”. We were also impressed by the mass array of armaments, ranging from shark tooth swords to coconut hair armour. In the rabbit warren of secret stores under the museum were some precious minerals and fossils including the most highly prized of all – a centimetre sized diamond. However, the most fascinating object to us was undoubtedly the spider in preserved in Baltic Amber.

Work experience geology

Manchester Museum is a vital part of the community. Much of the public use the museum in various ways, not only is it a popular destination for school children studying Egyptology, but much to our surprise, we were informed by Lindsay Loughtman (curatorial assistant in the Herbarium) that many artists also use the Museum’s plant preserves as artistic inspiration. The Museum is steeped in Manchester’s history, for instance, many plants have been donated by the Victorian collectors from Manchester such as Charles Bailey and Cosmo Melvill. In addition, many of the rock samples housed in the Museum are from local areas, even the stuffed deer in the lobby was originally from Belle Vue Zoo.

Due to the Museum’s unique position in our community, it is of paramount importance that the Museum is maintained for the future. This is why we have chosen to do our work experience at the Museum so that we can learn about the challenges it faces but also the benefits that it provides, and by understanding how the Museum operates, we have better knowledge to ensure that the Museum continues to thrive. We love working with the Museum and we hope to make the most of these experiences.

Working in stores object analysis