Tag Archive: Natural History

  1. Darwin Day: Plant Snacks!

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    Today, the 12th of February, is Darwin Day marking the birthday and celebrating the achievements of naturalist Charles Darwin born in 1809.

    Photograph of Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin

    Darwin is best known for his Theory of Evolution, but he also made detailed studies of all manner of animals, plants and fossils. In 1875 Darwen published a study on insectivorous plants which are a group of plants that have adapted to live in very wet areas of poor soils, needing to supplement their nutrition, ingeniously doing this by consuming insects!  These highly specialised plants have different methods of capturing and slowly ingesting their prey!

    Find out more about Charles Darwin and the collection held at the National History Museum.

    Lantern Slides

    Gallery Oldham is lucky in having a collection of many thousands of lantern slides, including these ones of insectivorous plants. These glass slides would have been projected on to a screen and used to illustrate natural history talks in the museum and library from 1894, when the lecture theatre extension was added to the rear of the Union Street building. At this time a talk with lantern slides would have be technologically advanced, with every seat occupied by an excited audience eager to hear about new discoveries in the natural world. 

    Black and white photo of Old lecture theatre with chairs and stage.

    This group of slides show both line drawings and photographs of living plants which are beautifully hand coloured, perfectly demonstrating these out of the ordinary plants.

    These are only a few of the glass slides we hold in our collection, if you’d like to see more slides or other objects from the Natural History collection, why not visit Search Our Collections webpage.

  2. How a baby got her name!

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    Some readers might remember a previous post written about the botanist Thomas Rogers and his sudden death in the Lake District in 1901 many miles away from his home near Oldham.

    Rogers, a pawnbroker, was an ardent explorer and naturalist set off for the Scottish Highlands in 1875 in search of plants with a small group of similar minded local men. John Whitehead a mill worker, James Nield, a printer and Levi Tetlow, a tea dealer. They had many adventures over a two week stay and Thomas compiled a report to record the places they visited and the species they encountered. This was read before the Manchester Botanist’s Association and later formally published.There was also evidence in the many thousands of well documented specimens that they brought back from their travels. These were flowering plants including many Scottish alpines and also mosses. Thomas was particularly interested in these tiny plants. These important historic specimens are all the natural history collections at Gallery Oldham.

    Included in the flowering plants collected are 10 specimens of Linnaea boralis – Twinflower. A tiny, beautiful, alpine plant.

    Thomas had a daughter in 1866 almost 10 years before his trip, who was named Linnea, after this tiny flower. This unusual name became a family name which has been passed down through the generations.

    Linnaea borealis
    Photo of Linnea in 1931

    Since writing the first blog three of Thomas’s family have got in touch and have provided photographs and more information. One is Jennie a distant cousin and a brother and sister, Thomas’s great grandson David and Thomas’s great grand-daughter Linnea.

    The flower was originally named after the great Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus and is the national flower of Sweden.

  3. Natural Connections

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    Blue Butterflies from Richard Cottam collection

    Links between Oldham and Stepney Museums

    Oldham and Stepney Museums are 230 miles apart but were connected for more than one reason in the early twentieth century. Here, we explore the natural connections.

    If you have read the Painting reveals a hidden Oldham Story blog you will already have come across the Fred Stubbs connection. Fred volunteered at the Oldham Municipal Library, Art Gallery and Museum during 1908. When a vacancy arose at Stepney Museum’s Nature Study Centre, Fred applied and secured the post. When Fred moved to Stepney from Oldham in 1909 Stepney was already at the cutting edge of natural history museum development.

    Fred Stubbs shown in The Naturalist by George Henry Wimpenny

    The School Nature Study Union was set up in 1902-3 to help educate families in crowded inner-city areas who may have had no experience of the natural world. Miss Kate Marion Hall, the first woman museum curator in the country, was employed by Whitechapel Museum later Stepney Borough Museum, from 1894 to 1909. She introduced a number of new ideas during her tenure in one of the poorest areas of the country. Kate and the curate of the parish Claude Hinscliffe with the help of an anonymous donation transformed a small disused mortuary building in a churchyard in to a Nature Study Museum. This was a welcoming place for all and remained open till 10pm, with up to a thousand visitors a day. She included living plants and animals including an observation beehive, an aquarium and a weather station alongside traditional museum objects such as taxidermy. So this was where Fred worked and absobed ideas.

    When Fred returned to Oldham ten years later he would have taken up his post in our 1883 building. However I am in doubt as to where the ideas came from when Werneth Park Study Centre (WPSC) opened its doors in 1938 after its donation to the town by the Lees family. WPSC had aviaries, bee hives and glass houses as well as traditional museum displays. Some older readers will remember it. It is sad that Fred died suddenly before the work was completed but all the Stepney innovations were used at WPSC.

    Small Coppers from Richard Cottam’s collection

    Further Connections

    However, there was still a further Oldham connection. Richard Cottam also of Oldham became student assistant to Fred at Stepney Museum for 3 years – approximately 1911 -1914. Fred and Richard knew each other from their Oldham days where they were both members of the Oldham Microscopical and Natural History Society. Then Richard was a piecer in a cotton mill studying insects in his spare time. He worked in Stepney until 1914 when he took the post of Assistant Economic Entomologist in the Sudan and Egypt working for the government where he stayed until he retired returning to the UK in 1949. Gallery Oldham took the bequest of Richard Cottam’s Butterfly collection in 1963.

    Museums hundreds of miles apart but connected through natural history.

    The Stepney Nature Study Museum closed during the WW2 but the building remains and sadly is on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.

    Written by Patricia Francis, May 2020

  4. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

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    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  5. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  6. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  7. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  8. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  9. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  10. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  11. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  12. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  13. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  14. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  15. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  16. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  17. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  18. Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Comments Off on Gallery Talks Series (Cancelled)

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards.
    Talks are given by gallery staff or guest speakers. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Upcoming talks:

    Wednesday 25 March, 1pm
    Find out more about Syn Shelton’s work documenting Rock Against Racism.

    Wednesday 15 April, 1pm
    Take a close look at the images in Matisse:Drawing with Scissors.

  19. In conversation with Mahtab Hussain

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    This FREE event celebrates the launch of our latest exhibition. From 1pm you can meet artist Mahtab Hussain and learn about the portraits in his ‘You Get Me?’ series. There will be an ‘In Conversation’ discussion of the exhibition from 1.30pm.

    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and there is always time for a discussion and questions afterwards.

    Saturday 9 March, from 1pm

     

     

  20. Gallery Talks Series

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    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Wednesday 30 January, 1pm
    Join our Natural History curator Patricia Francis to find out more about the wildlife on display in the Oldham Stories exhibition.

     

  21. Gallery Talks Series

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    Our free lunchtime talks are informal and last around 40 minutes with time for a discussion and questions afterwards. All talks are drop in, no need to book.

    Saturday 12 January, 1pm
    Enjoy a guided tour around the Peace and Plenty exhibition with our social history curator and learn more about life in Oldham during the First World War.