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Urban Naturlist

April 15, 2016

Friendly, practical workshops run by leading naturalists. From wild food-foraging and composting to bird song and insect identification, explore biodiversity on our doorstep.

This month’s workshop on Sunday 24 April 2-4pm,  will take a look at the relationship between people and nature in cities, and explore ideas around community engagement. Join Dr Luke Blazejewski, a local wildlife photographer and conservationist, who will be sharing some of his experiences as an urban naturalist, and encouraging people to develop new ways of helping communities engage with the wildlife on their doorstep.

Luke headshot


The Urban Naturalist is part of Museum Meets, The Manchester Museum’s year round programme for adults.

Sign up to this free workshop via Eventbrite –

Common blue 12Salford meadows


Last Day of March – Sonorous Matter & Siberian Stories

March 27, 2016

On the 31 March the Museum is open for After Hours, where there will be two events where writers and musicians have been inspired by the Museum’s collections.

Siberian Stories


An evening presentation by Rebecca Hurst, Manchester Museum’s Researcher in Residence. Inspired by the Museum’s 2014-2015 Siberia exhibition, her work has focused on creating and uncovering stories from the Russian Far East. She will read poems and discuss her research on Kate Marsden – a Victorian nurse and explorer, who made a remarkable and controversial trip to Vilyusk in 1897 – and on the fabulous world of the Russian wonder tale.


SiberianStories Drawing 2

Sonorous Matter: with Common Objects


When Oskar Fischinger met John Cage he talked about a spirit that lives inside each of the world’s objects, and said that what we need to do to liberate that spirit is to brush past the object and draw forth its sound. The musicians from Common Objects will each research and engage with collections from three museums: Manchester Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum and Durham University Oriental Museum. They will identify objects that once made sound to form the basis of new scores to be performed by the ensemble. Ranging from the Neolithic to the present day, the objects will form a creative resource for re-imagining sonic possibilities.

Common Object

This will result in six new commissions, one by each member of the ensemble. The museums have been chosen for their breadth of specialties: Science and Technology, the Oriental and Postcolonial, Anthropology and the Neolithic. In engaging with artifacts, Sonorous Matter will seek to identify and stimulate new relationships and resonances between the composers’ sound work and the objects’ histories.

This project takes contemporary music out of the concert hall and presents it in an innovative setting to reach new audiences that would not necessarily have encountered this form of music. Musicians John Butcher – saxophones Angharad Davies -violin Rhodri Davies – electric harp Lina Lapelyte – violin Lee Patterson – amplified devices and processes Pat Thomas – electronics

Funded by ACE and presented with Sound and Music, the National Charity for New Music

Book you ticket at

Forage Mocktails with Urban Naturalist

March 25, 2016

This month’s Urban Naturalist on March 27, 2-4pm, will be presented by David Winnard (of one of the most respected foragers and naturalists in the North of England.


In this workshop he will explore the edible, medicinal and poisonous plants and fungi found in the Greater Manchester area. We will learn how to locate and identify them from one and other safely. How to forage sustainably and what laws we need to be aware of.

Looking at between 40 and 50 different species this should prove to be a comprehensive session.

David will also bring along some examples of locally foraged plants and fungi and teach you the art of foraged mocktails, non-alcoholic drinks made from foraged ingredients.

Sign up for this event via:


Urban Naturalist are friendly, practical workshops run by leading naturalists. From wild food-foraging and composting to bird song and insect identification, explore biodiversity on our doorstep.

Moths and Butterflies – Urban Naturalist

March 3, 2016

Moths & Butterflies: Night and Day

The Urban Naturalist February edition was hosted in the Collection Study Centre by Dr Michael Dockery, who is one of our resident entomologists at The Manchester Museum.

We explored survival strategies found within several species of moths, including some species masquerading as bird droppings and those that blend perfectly into their environment.

Michael had also brought some fascinating examples of moths and butterflies from the museum’s collection to give us a close up view, including the largest species of butterfly in the world – Queen Alexandra’s birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae). This certainly trumped the largest British species the swallow tail (Papilio machao) for size, but perhaps not in beauty!

We also had the opportunity to try our hand at working out the distribution of wingspan variance within a population of moths!

I think I can speak for the rest of the participants in wholeheartedly thanking Michael for his fun and informative session; I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and certainly learnt a lot.

For those interested in getting involved in future Urban Naturalist sessions please visit the events page on the Museum Website:

Sign up via our Eventbrite page:

Or Keep an eye on our social media platforms:

Twitter – @mcrmuseum

Rock Music, Moths, English Corner & Egyptian Bites

February 26, 2016

Join us at the Museum for a mix of adult events

Saturday 27 February, 4.30pm: Rock Music

“We love the idea that the sound of handaxes being made provided the percussion of
everyday life for over a million years. We can’t help thinking that when these rhythms are
abstracted into electronic music they will evoke something distant yet familiar.”
Owl Project

Following an artist residency at Manchester Museum, as part of the University of
Manchester, Owl Project have become fascinated by the Museum’s prehistoric stone tool
collection and how it resonates with modern technology.
In Rock Music, Owl Project will tune 5,000 years back in time to reclaim one of the oldest
known creative processes: Flint Knapping. Making sharp tools from stone such as flint, or
‘Knapping’ is acknowledged as one of the earliest human processes. With the support,
advice and guidance of archaeologists, the collective intend to closely examine the rhythms
and movements associated with the practice of making stone tools.
Rock Music will celebrate the prehistoric method of making stone tools through a live
reenactment. Working with primitive technologist Karl Lee and experimental archeologists
they have developed a set of augmented tools, new sensor and audio technology, which
they will use to detect movement and sounds from the processes of knapping. During the
performance, a flint knapper will make a hand axe and the process will be transformed into a
live electronic music performance courtesy of Owl Project.

The performance is free to attend. Please RSVP Owl Project is
kindly supported by Manchester Museum and Invisible Dust.

Sunday 28 February, 2-4pm: Urban Naturalist

Urban Naturalist is our friendly, practical workshops run by leading naturalists. From wild food-foraging and composting to bird song and insect identification, explore biodiversity on our doorstep.

This month the workshop will be led by Dr Michael Dockery one of our resident Moth experts, who will teach this interactive and entertaining session. Topics will cover Moth camouflage, variation and even the opportunity to design your own Mancunian Moth.

It’s free but you can book a ticket on or ring 0161 275 2648

Tuesday 1 March, 1-2.30pm English Corner

Drop by for some English Conversation practise with English Corner. Free

Tuesday 1 March, 2-3pm Collection Bites

The Ancient Egyptians appeased their gods with a range of offerings; Curator of Egypt and Sudan Dr Campbell Price explains how and why.

It’s free but you can book a ticket on or ring 0161 275 2648

Mummy re-rolling

February 16, 2016

After Hours: Gifts for the Gods

Thursday 25 February


Drop-in, free, adults

A vibrant and eclectic evening where you can meet the curators, mummify some oranges, enjoy a glass of wine and much more


Join Drs Stephanie Woolham, Lidija McKnight and Campbell Price as they rewrap a mummy, print a poem or hieroglyphic message to send to the gods or take a journey through the catacombs in the ‘Gifts for the Gods’ exhibition.


The University of Manchester is synonymous with the historic unwrapping of Egyptian human mummies. In a reversal of these events, as a way of learning more about how mummies were wrapped, rather than preserved, a public ‘re-rolling’ of an experimental animal mummy will take place. Manchester-based researchers and curators will work together with the view to answering the question – how easy is it to wrap a mummy? – and how long does it take?


Re-rolling a mummy

6:15-6:30 –  Opening and introduction

6:30-6:45 –  Poetry reading with Anthony Parker

6:45-9:00 – Re-rolling a mummy

 6-9pm Drop in activities to explore and enjoy

‘Mummy Auction TV’ by iOrganic

Let curious performers iOrganic transport you back to 1890 through ‘Mummy Auction TV’: a fusion of historical fact and surreal modernity. This Victorian auction ‘TV programme’ puts the decision in your hands. How much would you pay for mummified cat furniture or Mummified Cat(tm) health food supplements? Have your say in this interactive performance. Every bid counts!

Ceramic demonstration by Pascal Nichols

Local Manchester ceramicist Pascal Nichols will be making a clay pot to house an ibis mummy, demonstrating the coiling technique used by the ancient Egyptians.

Textile printing with Sally Gifford

Manchester-based textile artist Sally Gifford introduces visitors to the screen print technique, to immortalise poems and hieroglyphic prayers.

Mummifying Oranges

Drop by to mummify an orange and create an animal head in the form of a suitable Egyptian deity.

With music by The Music Curators

Frogs leaping towards extinction – Urban Naturalist

February 10, 2016

Frogs leaping towards extinction – Urban Naturalist

Last Saturday Matthew O’Donnell Curatorial Assistant at the Vivarium here at the Museum gave a talk entitled Frogs leaping towards extinction, this marked the beginning of a new phase of our Urban Naturalist programme.

What are amphibians and why are they declining on a global scale? What does this have to do with Manchester Museum and the Urban Naturalist?

Here at the Manchester Museum we house one of the most important collections of Costa Rican Amphibians in the world. We maintain genetically diverse populations of critically endangered amphibians, to help ensure that they do not become extinct in the future. Through this talk we explored the causes of amphibian declines and what the Manchester Museum is doing to help conserve them. We also looked at how each and every one of us can get involved, ”It all starts with you” is a simple embodiment of that message of social responsibility which helps illustrates how we all have a part to play in the future of amphibians and the wider environment as a whole.

For more information about this topic please visit our blog;

Friendly, practical workshops run by leading naturalists. From wild food-foraging and composting to bird song and insect identification, explore biodiversity on our doorstep.

Urban Naturalist will run from 2-4pm on the last Sunday of every month until the end of 2016, for more information or to book onto the workshops please visit;