Inside the cocoon there are many people busy with various aspects of the museum’s redevelopment and day-to-day activity. We’d like to introduce you to some of them. Here we meet Matt Lowe, our Collections Manager.
What is your role in the museum?
Collections Manager – my role involves the day-to-day management and conservation of the museum’s collection as well as supporting the curatorial, teaching, research and public roles of the museum.
What’s your favourite animal?
Impossible to answer! Life on Earth is too amazing to pick a favourite, although I’m always in awe of Hummingbirds when I see them flitting past.
What’s your favourite specimen here at the museum?
Another difficult one. We have a beautiful collection of Tasmanian Tiger skins that I think are exceedingly precious. Here’s a blogpost I wrote about them last year: http://animalbytescambridge.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/tasmanian-tiger-or-thylacine/
What is the most enjoyable part of your working day?
When I get the chance to show somebody around the collections who isn’t expecting the wonders they’re about to see. By the time they leave, we’ve got a friend for life! Hopefully they’ve also left with a heightened sense of how fragile our planet is.
What is the most unusual job you’ve ever had?
I’m doing it now! Packing up the museum for the redevelopment is very unusual. Being closed to the public and to researchers is not the normal state of affairs for the museum but we’re working towards something very special.
What is the most exciting thing you have ever done?
Visiting Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii where the power of planet Earth is there for all to see. We watched Kilauea erupting and hiked across the still steaming crater of the nearby Kilauea Iki. The rim of the crater was full of fantastic wildlife too, as if that wasn’t enough!
If you could work at any other museum in the world, which would it be?
I’m a big fan of the Field Museum in Chicago, but it would take an awful lot to persuade me to leave the amazing collections at Cambridge.
What do you like doing in your free time?
I love travelling; I’m surrounded by creatures from all over the world so it’s a thrill to get out there and see them out in the wild, especially when I’m ready with a camera.
If you could bring any creature back from extinction, which would it be?
The Tasmanian Tiger, extinct since 1936 due to disease, habitat loss and a state-sponsored eradication programme. Such a unique animal but then again, they all are!
Do you have a role model?
There are people who inspire me, like David Attenborough and Charles Darwin. But in terms of greatest influence, I was lucky enough to have a fantastic geology teacher, Mr. Youd, who inspired my 11 year old self to pursue palaeontology which lead me onto the path I’m still on today. If I can pass his enthusiasm onto the next generation then I’ll have repaid the huge debt I owe him.
Describe what it is like working at the museum in three words.
Inspirational, frustrating (there’s so much potential but so little time and resources) and humbling.