Last week some of the team went for a visit to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery for a course on the care of Natural History Collections. Although Mr Wade mainly collected handcrafted objects he also saw great beauty in the natural world. We have some beautiful natural history specimens at Snowshill ranging from turtle shells to pieces of hide. We also have a rhino tooth that we believe to be the oldest item in the collection.
The visit to Bristol Museum was incredibly interesting as we were able to take a tour around their store. The first item that confronts you when you enter the store is an entire elephant skeleton (although the head is detached for storage), the walls actually had to be built around the elephant. Bristol Museum’s collection of natural history is not used solely for display, but also for research purposes. To this end there is a huge spectrum of items, including thousands of species of plant, an entire wall of bird taxidermy (not the best place to visit if you have a bird phobia), drawers upon drawers of insects and skeletons from hedgehogs to dolphins.
While on the course we learnt how to care for the objects in our collection, including which pests are more likely to attack our beloved fox bat. We shall be on the lookout for moths this season! We also learnt how the herbarium records are kept safe and secure and about the fluid preservation of insects (like our devil fish preserved in formaldehyde but on a somewhat smaller scale). We even learnt how to properly pin insects, hopefully any Death Watch Beetles wanting to come and visit Snowshill will now think twice!