Reaching Out & Raising Laughs: 2016 so far.

We’re a third of the way through 2016 already, how did that happen?

We’re over the half-way stage of our redevelopment and we’ve been incredibly busy inside and outside ‘the cocoon’. Running parallel to a packed schedule of school visits, our indefatigable Education & Outreach team have: delivered a couple of audio-descriptive handling sessions as part of UCM’s 2016  Blind & Partially Sighted Programme; popped-up with activities for the Twilight at the Museums event and the Cambridge Science Festival; had fun with our YZC (Young Zoologists Club), taking them for a tour of our new stores during half-term and arranged for our older Zoology Club members to attend a workshop run by Dr Tim Weil, dissecting Drosophila eggs in one of the Zoology Department research labs.

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Year 6 pupils at a school near Ely, engaging with specimens and activities our Education & Outreach Team brought to them relating to their class topic on evolution.

On 12 February, Darwin’s birthday, the first large public event was held in the Babbage Lecture Theatre of the David Attenborough Building. Organised in partnership with Cambridge Wine Merchants, our fundraising comedy night – Whale-up For It! – was a huge success. A fantastic line-up of comedians – Robin Ince, Sara Pascoe, Simon Singh, Matt Parker and Steve Moulds entertained and informed over 260 people in the audience. We were delighted with the overwhelmingly positive feedback and the amount of money raised – nearly £5k towards re-hanging our Finback whale.

WUFI artists

The fantastic artists who performed at Whale-up For It! Clockwise from top right: Robin Ince, Matt Parker, Steve Moulds, Sara Pascoe and Simon Singh

The physical transformation of the David Attenborough Building is becoming more impressive with each passing week. The barriers to the entrance are finally down, 30 months after they first went up. Steps and an access ramp leading into the Whale Hall are now complete. Work has also begun on the Tree of Life art installation by artists Ackroyd & Harvey  (http://www.ackroydandharvey.com/) in partnership with Cambridge Conservation Initiative. This amazing project will cover the exterior wall of the Whale Hall and provide a habitat for a range of wildlife including bats, bees and spiders. With the help of local schools and the public we have collected over 3000 empty snail shells which will be included in the artwork, these provide ideal homes specifically for solitary bees.

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The hoarding has come down. View of the David Attenborough Building and the new Whale Hall from the Pembroke Arch entrance to the New Museums Site, 30 March 2016.

Finally, our fundraising merchandise portfolio has welcomed a new addition to the fold. These wonderful, hand-crocheted Dodos are now available to buy in the UCM shop on King’s Parade. Proceeds from the sale of these cute and cuddly creatures go towards the redisplay of the Finback Whale and other large Museum specimens.

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To donate please visit http://www.museum.zoo.cam.ac.uk. Thank you!