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192 Posts authored by: Rose
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There was a moment on Monday night, at the author's book launch event here, when I actually expected a Neanderthal to walk onto the stage and join novelist Jean M Auel and Museum scientist Chris Stringer in their conversation about prehistoric life and the Earth's Children books.

 

Both modern humans entertained us for an hour chatting about the wonders of cave art and craft, Neanderthal veggies, the interbreeding of Neanderthals and early humans, and the possiblity of cloning Neanderthals in the future.

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Left: Novelist Jean M Auel and Museum palaeoanthropologist Chris Stringer admire a Venus statuette as an example of early cave art at the author's book launch event on 28 February in the Museum's Flett Theatre. Right, Jean compares a Neanderthal skull with an early human one. The Land of Painted Caves is out on 29 March.

The age-defying, 75-year-old American novelist arrived with several family members and various literary and publishing aides, to find a packed Flett Theatre in the Museum. Chris Stringer brought some rare, prehistoric objects and remains. The event marked a step closer to the long-awaited release of Jean’s sixth and final book, The Land of Painted Caves, in her bestselling Earth’s Children series. The series follows the epic adventures of Ayla, an early modern human girl adopted by Neanderthals, growing up and adapting in Ice Age Europe.

 

Stepping back about 30,000 years, it was fascinating to hear the two speakers talk about the similarities and differences between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons (early modern humans) who populate Jean’s books. And to discover the comparative views of a bestselling novelist and renowned palaeoanthropologist on the advances in our understanding of these species. The conversation wasn't so much fact versus fiction, more fact enriching fiction.

 

It was clear that Chris and Jean were equally intrigued by the Neanderthal race. And I discovered how close we all really are when Chris pointed out that recent research shows that most of us in the audience would have about two and half per cent Neanderthal DNA in our genes.

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Jean told us how she researches her books, visiting caves and conferences, learning how to make snow fires and stone tools, and even treat deer buckskins with brains! Chris drew attention to the historic detail in her books of animals, objects and the Ice Age landscape.

 

So what was the inspiration for the Earth’s Children epic? ‘It started out as a short story. But I quickly found I only “do long”, joked Jean. ‘What if we were sharing this world with another kind of human? That was my original thought, which sparked the idea.’

 

The author didn’t give away much about the content of The Land of Painted Caves, except to mention that all but one of the caves in the final book are based on real caves, many of these she has visited. ‘Life got in the way,’ was her answer to the questions of why the long gap since her last book and why the series has taken 30 years to complete.

 

We were enlightened further when the speakers answered questions from fans, like, ‘Where did Ayla’s name come from?’ ‘Is Ayla a feminist character?’ 'What inspired the memories and sign language of the Neanderthals in your story? ‘How did you get your first book published?’ 'Is it true Neanderthals had rickets?’ And ‘What is the scientific evidence of interbreeding between humans and other species?’

 

But you’ll have to wait to watch the film of the event to find out some of the answers. We will have a short video clip on our website soon. And there will be more film coverage on the publisher's website. Our event was followed by an author's signing session (pictured above).

 

The Land of Painted Caves is published on 29 March by Hodder & Stoughton. Their Jean M Auel website has all the details.

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You can get a limited edition of the new book featuring an AR (augmented reality) Ayla showing what she might have looked like. Some of Jean’s fans helped decide on this here earlier on in the author's visit to the Museum.

 

In the meantime get to know Neanderthal man more closely in our latest Neanderthal factfile animation (left) and if you have a webcam you can have an augmented reality Neanderthal in your home.

 

 

 

Come and find out more from Chris Stringer at our free talk on 11 March at 14.30: Are we Neanderthals?

 

Read my earlier blog about the Jean M Auel in Conversation event

 

Find out more about human evolution and the ancient human occupation of Britain

 

See a 14,700-year-old human skull cup replica on display at the Musem

 

Compare 3D hominid skulls in our online interactive

 

Enjoy more pictures from the event. Select them to enlarge

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Jean Auel meets fans here to help choose the augmented reality image of her books' heroine, Ayla

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Sharon Ament, the Museum's Public Engagement Group director intoduces Jean Auel and Chris Stringer in the Flett Theatre

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A captivated audience in the packed Flett Theatre

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Chris Stringer shows a rare, ritualistic 14,700-year-old human skull-cup replica, now on public display here

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The author gets ready to sign books for her fans

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A happy fan gets the first book, The Clan of the Cave Bear, signed
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We're forever blowing bubbles...

Posted by Rose Mar 4, 2011

Do you want to help with a spot of weather watching by blowing bubbles?

 

A new Climate survey has just begun and one of the fun, easy things you can do to take part is blow bubbles to measure wind speed and direction near the ground.

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But don't worry, you don't have to buy a bubble blowing kit to do this. Just watch the video below and learn how to make your own bubble blower cone using 2 sheets of paper.

 

 

Other cool things to do in the survey include looking out for plane trails  (contrails), watching cloud movement to record wind direction, and recording how hot or cold you feel.

 

Have a look at the Climate survey website to join in. Anyone in England can take part.

 

Read the recent news story about the Climate survey


The Climate survey is being conducted by the OPAL network with scientists from the Met Office and the Royal Meteorological Society. OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) is a nationwide partnership initiative that  inspires communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local  environments. It is led by Imperial College London and the Natural  History Museum is a partner.

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From today, you can see this gorgeous 110-carat pear-shaped yellow diamond in The Vault gallery thanks to the generosity of Cora diamond manufacturers who have loaned us the gem.

 

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Model Jerry Hall is dazzled by the arrival of the Cora Sun-Drop in The Vault gallery (Image copyright Adrian Brooks - Imagewise)

 

These large (over 100 carat) coloured diamonds are extremely rare in nature and are historically significant as so few exist. So it's a privilege to be able to have the Cora Sun-Drop on show to our visitors.

 

Cora-Sun-Drop-(black)-Photography-700.jpgI asked Alan Hart, the head of collections in our Mineralogy Department if he could tell me what particularly fascinated him about diamonds like this. He says:

 

'When you look at a diamond like this you are not only looking at a unique piece of art, you are looking at the fascinating science that bought this stone to us.

 

'The Cora Sun-Drop diamond was formed deep within the Earth’s crust 1-3 billion years ago. As it grew, it incorporated nitrogen into its carbon crystal structure. It is these nitrogen impurities that give the diamond its yellow colour as they modify light, absorbing the blue part of the visible spectrum. The diamond then travelled on a long journey upwards in a slushy rock magma. After it was found within a kimberlite pipe (a type of volcanic rock), it was expertly studied and cut, bringing the diamond to life.

 

'Good quality coloured diamonds, known as "fancy" diamonds, are extremely rare. Only about 1 in 10,000 mined diamonds are thought to have good body colour, and only a small percentage of these are considered to have good enough clarity to be labelled as a fancy diamond.

 

'The Cora Sun-Drop combines both a vivid yellow colour and another rare quality, a large size. At just over 110 carats, it is not only exceptionally large, it is the largest yellow pear-shaped diamond known.'

 

But diamonds aren't forever, I'm afraid! The Cora Sun-Drop is only with us in The Vault for a limited time, so bask in its light while you can. And don't forget there are 300 other diamonds in The Vault, including the Aurora collection, as well as a model of the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond.

 

You can hear Alan Hart talk about our impressive diamonds and gemstones at The Treasure Trove talk here in the Attenborough Studio on 25 March at 14.30.

 

And in case you wondered what the largest faceted diamond in the world is? At a whopping 545.67 carats, it's said to be the Golden Jubilee, also known as the Great Star of Africa, which now resides in the Royal Thai Palace as part of the crown jewels.

 

Watch the video about the Cora Sun-Drop diamond and The Vault gallery

 

Glimpse The Vault gallery highlights in our slideshow

 

Find out more about diamonds on our website

 

Pear-shaped Cora Sun-Drop image right courtesy Tom Tragale for M Patricof, Creative Group


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I wonder what's going to happen on Monday evening, 28 February, when bestselling fiction writer Jean M Auel and the Museum's esteemed human evolution expert Professor Chris Stringer meet to talk about ice age cave clans? Will flint sparks fly? Will they share a drink from ritualistic skull-cups?

 

We're not entirely sure of the details of their conversation, but the theme will certainly be earthy.

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Ayla and Jondalar - the main characters in Jean M Auel's latest book - as depicted in the book's film trailer. Her popular Earth's Children series follows the epic story of Cro-Magnons and Neanderthal cave dwellers in ice age Britain. She talks to Chris Stringer about the books here on 28 February

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Our event, Jean M Auel in Conversation, marks the release of the sixth and final book in the author's popular Earth's Children historical fiction series. The Land of Painted Caves is published on 29 March and is a highly-anticipated book for Jean Auel readers - the finale they've been waiting 30 years for. The fifth book appeared in 2002, and the first, The Clan of the Cave Bear, came out in 1980 .

 

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Jean Auel (left) is well-known for her meticulous research of archaeological findings in preparation of her novels and Chris Stringer (below) is the Museum's leading palaeoanthropologist with extensive knowledge of human evolution and the ancient human occupation of Britain.

 

Chris told me: 'I first remember meeting Jean at a human evolution conference in New York in 1984. I was able to spend more time with her when she co-sponsored another conference, in Santa Fe, in 1986. I have a lot of contact with the public through the talks I give and the enquiries I answer. Jean’s books regularly come up as having first inspired an interest in prehistory or as the source of an enquiry about some aspect of our evolutionary past.


'Palaeoanthropology is a fast-moving field, where new finds make us constantly update our ideas about ancient people like the Neanderthals and the Cro-Magnons who feature in Jean’s books. So I look forward to discussing with her how we both meet the challenges of these advances of knowledge in our research and writing about the past.'

 

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Jean Auel's publicist, Kerry Hood from Hodder, says: ‘I know that Jean is fantastically excited about coming to London to talk about the Earth’s Children series, and the last book. She is also really looking forward to renewing her very good acquaintance with Professor Stringer.’

 

After Jean and Chris converse, the audience will get the chance to ask questions. This is followed by an author signing session.

 

I've also just heard that the Gough's Cave human skull-cup replica will be on show at the event before it goes on public display in the Museum. Chris Stringer and the 14,700 human skull-cup discoveries have been receiving lots of recent media attention. So this is a rare treat for Jean Auel fans.

 


Find out about the Jean M Auel in Conversation event

 

Book tickets for Jean M Auel in Conversation - £10, starts at 19.30 on 28 February

 

Discover more about the human skull-cups and human evolution

 

Read the recent news story about the Earliest human skull-cups in the UK

About Earth's Children

For those of you may not know Jean Auel's Earth's Children, the series of historical novels traces the prehistoric adventures of Ayla, a young blue-eyed, blonde-haired Cro-Magnon (early human) orphan girl. In the first book, Ayla is adopted by a Neanderthal clan after a cataclysmic earthquake. The story is set in a harsh ice age landscape, about 30,000 years ago. In The Land of Painted Caves - the final forthcoming book -  Ayla is now a woman and a mother. With her young daughter Jonayla and loving mate Jondalar they face new challenges in the land of the Zelandonii.

 

Find out more about The Land of Painted Caves and the series and watch the official trailer for the new book


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They're all at it in this exhibition. But that's to be expected as Sexual Nature is a candid exploration of sex in the natural world.

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From bonobos to bunnies, guppies to gorillas, hedgehogs to hyenas and pheasants to penis bones, there is virtually no animal sexual practice, appendage or orientation that doesn't get a look in at this extraordinary science show. Plants and humans feature too, although the emphasis is on the animal kingdom. And the amusing antics of Isabella Rossellini impersonating animals having sex in her Green Porno film series are a real treat.

 

Today, 11 February, the exhibition opened its doors to the public after a hectic week of VIP events, media previews and press coverage and as I write our first visitors are now getting a taste of this sensuous and beautifully designed gallery experience. The heady mix of specimens, exhibits, films and facts is guartanteed to leave them buzzing by the end of their visit. I feel sure many will be coming back for more.

 

Before you visit, get a taste of the exhibition in our highlights slideshow on the website.

 

Glimpse Sexual Nature's highlights in our slideshow

 

Find out about Sexual Nature and how to book tickets

 

The exhibition contains frank information and imagery about sex, so it's best to look at the Parents sample content guide on the website first if you're considering bringing kids. A similar brochure is also available in the gallery.

 

You can visit Sexual  Nature in the evening at our After  Hours monthly events and if you want to take things further, there are sex talks and sexuality debates coming up too at After  Hours.

 

Read the news story about the Sexual Nature VIP event

 

Think you know a bit about animal sex lives? Test your knowledge on the BBC Surprises of animal sex quiz

 

In the meantime, enjoy the exhibition's launch week in pictures. Select the photos to enlarge them.

VIP event images

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Ronnie Wood capturing a moment of sex at the exhbiition entrance

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Gavin and Stacey's Matthew Horne with his back to the beetles...

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Newsreader Emily Maitlis, the lady in red

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Jameela Jamil in front of the descriptive panels that adorn the exhibition gallery walls

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Mr and Mrs Martin Clunes in front of the Red deer stag

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Museum director Mike Dixon gives his opening speech at the Sexual Nature VIP event

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Gavin and Claudine (our press officer) on the phones - you can listen to lonely heart ads and choose the one for you

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Ronnie Wood on his way out through the Sexual Nature shop with a copy of the pop-up Kama Sutra
Media preview

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Admiring the majestic Red deer stag specimen, a centrepiece of the exhibition

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Inside the gallery, on the right is the great Argus pheasant specimen

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Meeting Guy the gorilla

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Watching buffalos compete on one of the large video projections

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Inside the gallery, with the foxes mating display to the right

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At the final display area, listening to lonely hearts messages on the phones

 


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Just one week to go 'till our Sexual Nature exhibitions opens on 11 February. I popped in to the gallery this week to see how it's going and, despite many exhibits still waiting to be installed, the space looks incredible. I can see already that this exhibition has the wow factor.

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Of course, I can't give away much more yet, but the examples of dominant males, Guy the gorilla (below) and the beautiful Red deer stag (above), have definitely taken their pride of place. The three specially commissioned taxidermy mating displays of rabbits, hedgehogs and foxes were just arriving when I peeped in, and these are also bound to attract attention when it opens.

 

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You'll be hearing more about the exhibition in the press and media and on our website next week.

 

Watch this space for more images and behind the scenes.

 

Find out about the Sexual Nature exhibition

 

Click on the images to enlarge them.

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Five years ago a female bottlenose whale found her way into the River Thames. At 6 metres long, the whale was unmissable and her every move was followed by the public and the media.  Sadly, despite human efforts, she died towards the end of a rescue attempt, under the gaze of the world’s media.

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Last weekend, the whale's skeleton went on display at our Tring Museum in a new free exhibition, The Thames Whale Story.

 

I asked Alice Dowsell, the exhibition's interpretation manager, to tell us about the final installation:

 

'It’s been an exciting week at Tring since the enormous Thames whale skeleton was installed on 18 January. After a lot of hard work and planning in transporting the whale and its custom-built case out to Tring and into the only gallery large enough to hold it, we’ve been enjoying everyone’s reaction to the display. It seems lots of you out there have fond memories of the whale and its journey in the Thames back in January 2006 – hard to believe that was five years ago. Alongside the whale skeleton we also have other specimens carefully chosen from our 3,000-strong research collection.

 

'There's been fun for the younger visitors too this week who have enjoyed dressing up in lab coats to play our Prepare Yourself game. They’ve been working out just how scientists go about turning a big dead whale into a nice skeleton for our collections. We’ve also had young and old trying their hand at Body Detectives, learning that there’s a lot about an animal’s life that you can find out after it’s dead.'

 

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Richard Sabin, the Museum's Senior Curator of Mammals, seen here preparing the skeleton, adds:


'It’s great to get the Thames Whale out on display in the Natural History Museum at Tring. The setting in gallery 5 is superb. There is still so much public and media interest in this story after five years, and the exhibition will really give us a chance to put the use of Museum research collections into context.'

 

Find out about visiting the Natural History Museum at Tring


Read the news story about the Thames Whale Story exhibition

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This orang-utan has a smirk on her face, don't you think? You can find out why on our fabulous Sexual Nature website which we've just launched for the new exhibition.

 

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In fact, you'll be seeing quite a lot of this foxy-looking orang-utan over the coming weeks as she's one of the stars in the exhibition's publicity posters.

 

Our Sexual Nature exhibition is guaranteed to be a real eye-opener, so make sure you make a note in your diary that it opens on 11 February, just in time for Valentine's Day.

 

We'd also like to say a special thanks to those of you who helped us with the final display of the exhibition. In an earlier blog, and on Facebook and Twitter, we asked you to suggest an object that signified what you considered to be the most sexually attractive trait.

 

You sent in many entertaining suggestions and here are the 3 traits that will feature with their related objects in the conclusion area of the exhibition.casablanca.jpg

 

No 1. Sexual chemistry -  represented by chemistry glassware

No. 2.  A good sense of humour - represented by the Donna Summer 7-inch record, 'Never Lose Your Sense of Humor'

No. 3. Smelling good - represented by a bottle of perfume

 

I can't wait to get a glimpse of the exhibition. I know that production has started in the gallery space and the preparation of some of the rare Museum specimens is well underway.

'Never Lose Your Sense of Humor' - a duet between Paul  Jabara and Donna Summer was released as a single in late 1979
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We have just announced the call for entries for our prestigious wildlife photography competition.

 

It’s the 47th competition and the third time Veolia Environnement are sponsoring it. The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers and searches for the most inspirational and evocative images of nature.

 

This time round we have a new set of digital guidelines for entrants (to help with the technicalities of producing and submitting images.) It’s essential anyone entering has a good look at these as well as the all-important competition rules.

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Golden moment: this shot of a bearded tit was captured by a young Dane, Malte Parmo, one of 2010's highly commended 10 years and under award winners

There are more specific rules for the young photographers' competition this year. As Mark Carwardine, the chair of the judging panel, says in his foreword: ‘one of the most rewarding aspects of the competition is the number of youngsters proving themselves to be every bit as capable as their older peers.'

 

Over the last two years, my favourite winning images have been by the young photographers. I love the spontaneity and joyful character that often shines through their pictures. It always amazes me how difficult it is to tell the age of the photographer who took an image. Our young competition entrants are certainly giving the pros a run for their money.

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It's just an animal by Mark Leong, the 2010 Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year. His extraordinary sequence of 6 images follows episodes in the illegal trade of animal parts

 

Although there are no new categories to highlight for 2011, it is only the second year the Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year award has run, so the competition team are encouraging more photographers to consider entering a broad range of portfolios for this award.

 

In 2010 there was no winner in the Urban Wildlife category, and that is something for people to aim for in this year’s round.

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For the special awards, the competition team are keen to attract more positive imagery in the One Earth Award, such as the story connected to this year’s winner, Turtle in trouble by Jordi Chias (above), which saw him release the animal from the net he found it trapped in. They are also hoping for a greater variety of the eligible species on the IUCN Red List in the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife.

 

New judges are joining the 2011 competition panel. Keep up to date with the Judges on the website as we’ll be adding their biographies shortly.

 

Find out how to enter the competition. You've got 2 months to get those images submitted, the closing date is 18 March 2011.

 

See last year's competition winners in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 exhibition which is open until 11 March

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New year, new gallery

Posted by Rose Jan 7, 2011

What nicer way to start the new year than with the unveiling of a lovely new permanent gallery at the Museum.

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Images of Nature opens in 2 weeks time on 21 January and I've just had a sneak peek at the elegantly refurbished gallery, pictured here.

 

Many of the displays and paintings are now in place, the lighting is getting its final adjustments and, although the John Reeves Collection of Chinese watercolours is yet to be installed in its impressive cabinets, the gallery space is looking beautfully grand and nearly complete.

 

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'We're just finishing the installation of the touch objects which have to be anchored to the gallery surfaces, and testing is underway for the interactive kiosks' says Peronel Craddock, Interpretation Manager for the gallery, explaining that 'because the John Reeves Collection paintings are so sensitive to light, these will only be added at the last minute.'

 

As I wander the length of the gallery, I pass by themed areas on either side, such as Inspiring, Recording, Observing, Mapping, Draw it, Modelling, and the majestic cabinets that will house the Reeves Collection.

 

One amazing oil canvas stands out, the huge Great Bustards, Little Bustards (left) by the prolific bird illustrator John Gerrard Keulemans. It literally reaches up from the bottom to the top of the gallery wall.

 

Here are a few more installation snaps of the work in progress in the gallery. Select them to enlarge.
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Happy festive season to you all

Posted by Rose Dec 22, 2010

'And so this is Christmas, and what have we done?...'

 

Well tons this year, at the Museum.

 

We had the launch of a great many new events like Dino Snores, Night Safari, Summer After Hours, the Big Nature Debate and Science Uncovered night, and our year-long celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity and the illuminating online Species of the day series, along with the public opening of the Museum's most recent interactive film, Who do you think you really are?

 

And of course there have been three special and successful exhibitions, The Deep Sea, Butterfly Explorers and Amazonia, alongside the usual gallery activities, lectures, talks and shows that kept us buzzing throughout the year.

 

It was exciting too to be on the TV in the Museum of Life BBC series back in March, and we were regularly cheered up by the Wildlife Garden comings and goings in the summer, which included the popular foxcam and bee colony updates.

 

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Now there's snow on the ground, the Ice Rink (seen above from the cafe bar gallery) beckons outside for frosty fun and ice skating, and inside the Museum, the fabulous Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 exhibition is on show as well as the dinosaurs, and lots, lots more.

 

Do come and visit over the festive season and remember we're closed from Christmas Eve until and including Boxing Day, 24 - 26 December.

 

Find out what's on over the festive season

 

Look out for the festive Species of the day on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and a very special last species on 31 December.

 

Happy holidays!

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Here is one of my favourite images from the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition this year, from the Ten Years and Under category. 'Bringing back breakfast' by Lucas Marsalle. Beautiful and somehow makes me feel Christmassy.
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Although the gates of the Wildlife Garden are now closed to regular visitors, winter is a busy time for the garden's team. Caroline, the garden's manager, gives us some festive news as the snow was falling in the recent cold spell.

 

'By mid-winter, when all fruits and nuts have been removed by birds and squirrels or fallen and collected by smaller animals, it is time to prune and lay hedges and to coppice small trees and shrubs such as hazel, and willow.

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The view of the Museum's Waterhouse building from the Wildlife Garden's frozen pond

'The cut wood is used for making woven fences around the meadow. We will also be planting small hawthorn and blackthorn shrubs (whips), to thicken up our new hedges.

 

'When the ground is freezing we retreat indoors (to our shed-come-office below) to input data of species recorded during the previous year.

 

'Observations last summer included this colourful longhorn beetle Rutpela maculata (below left) photographed by one of our visitors, Mark Mansfield, in the garden’s meadow, during Open Garden Squares Weekend in June.

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'Other new insect sightings in the Wildlife Garden last year included the small copper butterfly Lycaena phlaeas and 5 moth species, including Elachista obliquella which hasn't been previously recorded elsewhere in Middlesex.

 

'In November, the Wildlife Garden was awarded the Princess Alice Countess of Athlone Award for the Environment by the Brighter Kensington and Chelsea Scheme.

 

'The gates to the garden will open again in April. In the meantime, the garden is open by arrangement, and if you would like a winter visit please enquire at the Information desk inside the Museum. As you can see from the footprints in the snow pictured above, there is still wildlife activity even on the most wintry days!'

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The Wildlife Garden 'office' - a warm retreat when it's freezing outside

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We've been winning awards again!

Posted by Rose Dec 13, 2010

Last week, we joined the likes of Mica Paris and Twiggy at a glitzy awards ceremony to receive 2 top tourism awards for the Best London for Free Experience and the Best Family Fun. We won both these prestigious Evening Standard People's Choice awards, which form part of the BT Visit London Awards, for the second year in a row.

 

The ceremony took place at the theatrical Bloomsbury Big Top (shown below) on 8 December to celebrate the best of tourism in the capital. The event was hosted by TV presenter Neil Fox. Olympic gold-winner Dame Kelly Holmes presented the Outstanding Achievement Award to winner, Twiggy.

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Our head of Visitor Services Sandy Clark and Head of the Formal Learning team Aby Tinkler - pictured here with Mica Paris who performed on the night - were there to accept the awards.

 

Sandy told me: "To be voted by our visitors as the best in these two categories is a fantastic achievement and a great honour. And a huge thank-you should go to all those visitors who voted for the Museum in these awards

 

"For me the People's Choice awards gives approval from our visitors to what we do and how we do it, and that is something that all of us in our industry aim for.

 

"Winning these awards was made all the more rewarding and humbling because we up against such a high calibre of attractions.

 

"The whole of the Natural History Museum team should be congratulated for all their hard work in making the Museum such a popular and exciting place to both work and visit."

 

It's been a great year for the Museum's visitors with a record number of more than 4.5 million people enjoying our galleries so we must be doing something right.

 

Read the news story to find out more the Museum's visitor attractions and the Visit London Awards

 

The week before, the Museum hosted this year's Green Awards ceremony where it was announced that the UN's 2010 International Year of Biodiversity campaign had won the Best Green International Campaign Award. Over 450 organisations including the Natural History Museum are part of the IYB-UK partnership, so this was another honour for us.

 

Read the news story about the Best Green International Campaign Award

 


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Next year's star attractions

Posted by Rose Dec 3, 2010

Last week we announced our big attractions for 2011 to the press.


It's going to be an exciting and busy year for us all - we'll have a new permanent gallery in January, our Sexual Nature exhibition opening in February, and the Age of the Dinosaur family blockbuster knocking us jurassic-wards from April.

 

The new permanent Images of Nature gallery will showcase over 110 images of, strangely enough, nature. Among the diverse paintings, illustrations, photographs and modern scientific images, will be 2 very different dodo paintings.

 

 

Watch this video and discover how Dr Julian Pender Hume's newly-commissioned painting of the dodo, Raphus cucullatus, differs from Roelandt Savery's 17-century masterpiece.

 

Both paintings feature together in the new gallery. You can see this dodo video and explore more fascinating dodo details at one of the interactive kiosks in the gallery.

 

hu-yun-500.jpgImages of Nature will also include a temporary exhibition of Chinese watercolours from the Reeves collection and some beautiful contemporary drawings, shown right, from our Shanghai-based artist-in-residence (inspired by the Chinese collection).

 

Discover more about Images of Nature

 

Moving on from the lovely to the lascivious, Sexual Nature opens just in time for Valentine's Day, on 11 February. As you can imagine we're all getting very steamed up about this one. And very happy to welcome Guy the gorilla to the centre stage of the exhibition - as a 'superb symbol of male masculinity' says the press release.

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Guy was last seen at the Museum on public display in 1982, having been donated to us in 1978, following his death earlier that year. Guy was a hugely popular character at London Zoo for over 30 years.

 

Find out about Sexual Nature and book tickets

 

Read the news story to learn more about Guy the gorilla and the Sexual Nature exhibition

 

We've only just announced Age of the Dinosaur - it doesn't open until the spring - but this is going to be BIG and much more of a themed adventure than some of our usual exhibitons. So watch out for more details.

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In the meantime, catch the current exhibitions before they close. Amazonia finishes next week on 12 December and Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year in early March next year.

Above: Guy the gorilla takes pride of place at our forthcoming Sexual Nature exhibition
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Today, we unveiled our innovative new interactive film to the public. And if you haven't heard of augmented reality before, you will now.

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A Coelophysis dinosaur roams the Attenborough Studio in Who do you think you really are?

Who do you think you really are? tells the story of our evolutionary past and uses advanced technology to blend CGI graphics and a live video stream, to literally bring prehistoric creatures to life in the film's studio. It is narrated by Sir David Attenborough and projected on 3 large screens in the Attenborough Studio.

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From your seat in the studio, and using the attached unique handset (shown right), you'll interact with the film and witness creatures and objects from the film appear and move right in front of you.

 

A Coelophysis dinosaur (above) and Homo erectus will strut around you and an intricate tree of life stretch upwards majestically. It's the first time that augmented reality has been used in a public, learning space like this.

 

'We wanted to use a whole arsenal of media and technologies,' says Alisa Barry, our Interactive Department's director and executive producer of the film. 'We have peppered the studio with infra-red. This allows the camera in the handheld computers to track movements and position the animation correctly.'

 

In addition to the wow factor of the film, you'll learn a lot about exactly how we are related to prehistoric creatures and even bananas.

 

The film is showing daily in the Attenborough Studio and is free.

 

Find out about the interactive film, Who do you think you really are?

 

Read the news story about the interactive film

 

After you've been to the film, you can visit our NaturePlus community and sign in to explore more augmented reality on your home webcam and continue the film's evolutionary journey further.

 

Visit NaturePlus

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