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The Making of a new Nature Base Display

Yesterday we announced a new Nature Base display, specially curated by young naturalist and blogger, Jake McGowan-Lowe.

After writing his own book on bone-collecting, Jake was a natural choice as a guest curator for this display, which aims to give children a close look at some of the bones they might expect to find locally.

Jake's first job was to select which specimens from our stored collections should be included in the case. His choices were all common species, many of which can be found in London's gardens, parks and public spaces. While skulls are often the most recognisable (and collectable) part of a skeleton, other common bones were included to help beginner bone-hunters recognise their shapes.

As Jake couldn't be at the Horniman for the entire process, it was then Paolo's job to take a close look at the specimens and decide how best to mount them ready for their installation in the Gallery.

The bird skulls needed to be mounted flat onto the board, while mammal skulls are better shown side-on, with the lower jaw attached separately. This offers the best view to people looking to use the bones to ID their own finds.

Stew, our Graphic designer, printed out the first draft of the display design, to help Paolo get the positioning right. You can see here some 'lorem ipsum' or placeholder text has been used to work around while Paolo waited for Jake's final draft.

Once everything was finalised, Stew could print out the final version of the display backing and technician Becs could get to work pinning the specimens in place.

Each bone was safely secured using thin wire with a covering of plastic to protect the specimens.

This is fiddly work when it comes to some of the tiny bones involved.

The whole display was put together behind the scenes, before being brought into the gallery and slotted into position.

There was just a final bit of dusting to do to get everything looking its best...

...before the glass was carefully slid back into place and secured.

If you want to see Jake's specially curated case of bones in person, be sure to visit Nature Base and look for it beneath the sign reading 'What can you find outside?'

Tweets of the Day from Horniman Dawn Chorus

Early this morning, we held a Dawn Chorus walk. Twelve intrepid early birds joined us for a tour around our Gardens, hearing lots of birds waking and welcoming the new day. 

Inspired by BBC Radio 4’s ‘Tweet of the Day’ birdsong series, we recorded these three special South London audio tweets - take a listen below.

In the first, we can hear Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Wrens.  The second features Great tits and Chaffinchs, while in the third, we hear very chattery Magpies, Blue tits and a Great tit.

 

The Dawn Chorus Walk, hosted by ornithologist David Darrell-Lambert. After our walk through the gardens, we went into the Hands On Base to learn a little more about the birds we saw, including seeing taxidermy examples of some which we were able to touch and get up close to.

The Dawn Chorus Walk is part of the Horniman’s Family Festival of Fieldwork, which celebrates the centenary year of the British Ecological Society.

Families taking part in the festival will work alongside expert ecologists and Horniman Museum staff to explore wildlife and nature in our Gardens – upcoming events are on the topic of trees, insects and small mammals.

Bees Are Back!

Good news this week - the bees have returned to our Nature Base Gallery.

Beekeeper Clive Watson installed the beehive on Tuesday, and we'll be keeping an eye on the bees to ensure they settle into their new home well.

When you're next visiting, watch out for the queen bee - she has a little white spot on her back so you can (hopefully) find her more easily.

 

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