By Wednesday Batchelor, Collections Management Trainee
As the Teaching Museum trainee in collections management, this is my first of many posts to come! My name is Wednesday Batchelor and I am based with the collections management team between Shirehall, Strangers’ Hall and Gressenhall for the next year; the role has already been diverse and exciting with no two days the same, so I’m very grateful to be here!
On the first bank holiday Monday of May the Norfolk Collections Centre were a part of “Winging It!”, a day at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse dedicated to birds, with various crafts and activities as well as teaching opportunities and live birds. Our involvement was a display of Victorian cased taxidermy birds from the store, which had not been seen by the public for a number of decades. Because of this, there was plenty of preparation to be done, including conservation cleaning and some research.
The birds were brought out of storage, their conditions assessed and cases cleaned; this takes considerable patience and due care. Some of the specimens had very little information recorded about them, but I was able to research the species and the taxidermists associated with some examples to create display materials for the event, and spent some time creating artwork to support each bird.
Conservation cleaning of a young male roller prior to the event – in the second picture you can see the difference between the front and back of the glass where cleaning has taken place.
There were twelve cases displayed on the day, including Red-Crested Pochards, a Bittern, a Scoter and a trio of Palla’s Sandgrouse. We also displayed a gannet which was in very poor condition, having been damaged by pests whilst stored some years ago; it gave us the opportunity to convey the message that museum collections require considerable care and upkeep, and to discuss the ways that we deal with pests.
Another interesting specimen was a hybrid taxidermy, meaning it consisted of parts from different animals – in this case it was the head of a Great Northern Diver, attached to the body of another bird and the wings of a different, far smaller bird. Unfortunately, the motivation behind the creation is unknown, but he’s a very fabulous frankenduck.
Some of the displays from the ‘Winging It!’ event
Overall, the event was a lovely success, and despite the downpour we were well attended and managed to engage plenty of people!
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