Without a dedicated team of volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to carry out projects and put on exhibitions. Here’s a quick look at some of the work they do…
“The love for all living creatures, is the most noble attribute of man.” Charles Darwin
Pesky pests! Our zoology museum is full of lots of organic materials, which beetles unfortunately like to munch on. For us, this means keeping on top of housekeeping and monitoring the pest levels in both the museum itself and our stores.
He might look cute, but this is the enemy!
Image Attribution: Carpet Beetle – Line Sabroe from Denmark / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
This is where our dedicated volunteers come in. They assist us with regular housekeeping in the museum and get ‘hands on’ with cleaning off old pest damage, wrapping specimens for freezing, and improving how our collections are stored.
Our most recent work has involved cleaning, rehousing and updating a collection of small mammal skins from Africa. These form part of our important study skin collection, which are still used for research. Some of the more unusual specimens the volunteers came across, included this Common Genet (Genetta genetta) and a South African Springhare (Pedetes capensis).
Just another normal day… dusting off the belly of a Common Genet!
As well as this, the volunteers have been helping us to carry out an inventory of all of the specimens on display in our galleries, which is no mean feat! Over 1,700 entries so far, and we have almost completed the lower gallery! Phew!
We can often be spotted around the museum wearing gloves and masks, so please don’t be alarmed! We are just ensuring that all of our old furry (and scaly!) friends are looking their best, so that our visitors can go on enjoying them longer.
“And here you see the Zoology Museum volunteer in its natural habitat…”
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas
The university has a small art collection which includes 400 oil paintings, most in storage. Alison helps the Curatorial Assistant, Abeer, with the ongoing documenting of this collection and lends a hand with hanging works of art in offices and buildings throughout the university campus. The work involves a keen eye for spotting details and flagging concerns with the condition of works of art. Alison also assists with the packing of paintings and housekeeping in the store. Thanks Alison!
“Give me a museum, and I’ll fill it.” Pablo Picasso
We are lucky to have volunteers coming into the Collections Centre at Marischal who help us with cataloguing, mount making, archiving and storage solutions. Maggy Sabiston has been improving the storage and updating archival records we hold on museum donors.
This archival material helps us to tell the story of many of our objects and often give us an insight into how many of the objects came to the collection. As a retired GP Maggy is also a useful person to have around when cataloguing medical instruments!
The Collections Centre also houses objects that the university has acquired through Treasure Trove. These are often archaeological assemblages from excavations. Sara, an archaeology student at the university, is our most recent volunteer working on accessioning objects from these excavations. Before lockdown Sara was busy cataloguing objects from the Forest Road, Kintore Project.
Finally, we have Bill and Ray, a formidable duo, without them we couldn’t put on exhibitions or carry out storage improvements in the stores.
Bill & Ray always have a keen eye for detail!
Both have a mathematical and engineering mind and always seem to come up with just the right solution when it comes to boxes and mounts for objects. We miss them a lot!
Thank you to all the volunteer who help us look after the University of Aberdeen Collections.