Getting there!

It’s been a bit hectic here over the Spring and Summer period. Time seems to accelerate as we approach the countdown to re-opening in less than a year’s time. Our Conservation staff and Collections Manager have been extremely busy overseeing the safe return of our specimens to their new stores and the newly refurbished Museum space.

Back in April it was wonderful to watch as our five smaller whale skeletons were finally unveiled after spending three long years under wraps. Our Pygmy Right Whale, Killer Whale, Bottle-nosed Whale,  Beaked Whale and unusual two-tusked Narwhal have been hanging in situ from the gallery roof as all the construction work has been going on around them.

The following couple of months saw great progress in the refurbishment of the gallery and display spaces with the installation of our new Exploration Stations. We also saw the return of our big beasts; the Indian Elephant, Rhino and Giant Ground Sloth were brought back into the Museum and re-mounted after several months away for cleaning and conservation.

As if that heavy workload wasn’t enough- the last of our new stores – the spirit store – was completed so it was time to return our 14 tonne spirit collection to its new home.

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Clockwise from top left: gallery whales, rhino in progress, spirit Octopus on its new shelf, Museum team with Giant Ground Sloth framework.

To keep our collections protected from sunlight we have installed specialist conservation blinds to our gallery windows. We were absolutely thrilled when, after a private visit to see some of our specimens, beloved artist Sir Quentin Blake agreed to decorate the blinds with his illustrations inspired by our collections. These are a delightful addition to the new Museum and we hope our visitors will love them as much as we do!

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Sir Quentin Blake with some of his illustrations.

As is usual during the summer months, our Education and Outreach team have been very busy. The biggest outreach event was of course, BioBlitz. This year we held our annual species hunt in the beautiful grounds of Trinity College Fellows’ Garden and attracted nearly 400 visitors over a gloriously sunny weekend. Our E&O team also popped up at local events including the Arbury Carnival and The Big Weekend on Parker’s Piece, ran craft activities with ChYpPS (Children and Young People’s Participation Service) across the city, and hosted a workshop at the Cambridge Science Centre. Lots of fun has been had making badges, krill masks and mini ocean scenes, recruiting new Zoology Club and Young Zoologist Club members and spreading the word about our new Museum and fundraising efforts.

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Snail-hunting and pond-dipping at BioBlitz2016, popping up on Parker’s Piece at The Big Weekend.

During September we approach a major milestone and one of the biggest challenges in the Museum’s redevelopment. The reassembling and rehanging of our enormous Finback Whale skeleton in the new Whale Hall. This will be the third time in its 151 year history it will be remounted for public display. It’s going to be spectacular, so watch this space…

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Raising the Whale! Finback skull, vertebrae and ribs. One helluva jigsaw puzzle.