Over, once again to the divine Ms F. She is spending the summer as an intern at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. This is her story....
Sorry for the large break in diaries, but I've been a busy thing of late. My placement at RAMM continued to be excellent, having worked on a more complicated whale rib. I have now learned how to use a product called microballoons (tiny glass spheres) to mend the bone as well as pigments and paints to colour the infill. My confidence at colour matching has increased dramatically.
A fellow intern and I have been doing a brief survey of some of the Natural History collections, including the fascinating bird's eggs collections, some of which were given by the police after being confiscated from rather naughty oologists of the illegal type.
The Natural History collection at RAMM is large and encompasses many things, from Moa bones to mongooses (mongeese?), from mantises to mosses. All of it is very interesting and a lot is of very good quality. This resource is a treasure for the local community and for scholars of the subject and it is lovely to find a museum that values its Natural History collections. This placement has made me more sure that I wish to specialise in Natural History conservation and I hope to take a course in the next couple of years that will enable me to work with specimens preserved in liquid (how very Hogwarts).
Some of the surveying has led to some marvellous things to look at: a cabinet full of tiny jewel-coloured hummingbirds, a replica elephant-bird egg, a selection of tiger skulls and an Eskimo curlew being amongst them.
Many museums and a minority of the general public feel that Natural History collections are unfashionable, and sometimes politically incorrect (oh how I hate that phrase!) due to the 'colonialness' of things like taxidermied animals and animal heads. This is misleading as these items not only provide scientific information on animals but also a look into the attitudes people in the past had to animals and their habitats.
At RAMM there are bones - and even skins - of many extinct animals. There are a large quantity of Moa bones, a partial moa egg, Diprotodon bones, an Eskimo curlew and several passenger pigeons. No matter how these were collected they are undoubtedly very important and should be (and are being) looked after carefully and well.
I now have a month off from my placement, but I hope to write some other things during that time. I return to RAMM in August and shall resume this diary.
The Stone Curlew pic is, of course, copyright to RAMM and is used with their permission.