Horniman: My First Month

It’s been a long time since my last post but I’ve been waiting to settle into London life again; with a new flat and a new job to get to grips with, I didn’t have much time for writing. Now that the first month is by, I have plenty to show and tell.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens

My first week at the Horniman Museum and Gardens was filled with the usual inductions and introductions as I found my way around the museum and the new role. There was a lot to take in but it was made easier by welcoming colleagues. I also had a networking day involving many of the recipients of the same funding body which funds my project (Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund). This was held in Oxford and was a great chance to find out more about where our money comes from and where else it is being used.

Since then, I’ve been getting to know  the Horniman’s collections, documentation procedures and departmental structure; this is an ongoing task and essential for getting started with the project.

The Natural History Gallery. An amazing collection of specimens from around the world displayed in a tradition, retro manner that is both surprising and endearing.

My new job title is Natural History Project Co-ordinator for the Bioblitz Review project. You can find more information about the project here. It also explains my role somewhat. For now, my time is split between:

  • Making sure we have as much information for each specimen on the database (by looking at each one individually and reconciling the info across the accession registers, record card index and the database) so that all the data will be at hand for the expert reviewers; and
  • Collecting as much information about previous collection reviews as I can in order to see what’s been done before and how we can use that to inform our method, as well as coming up with some of those potential methods for reviewing our natural history collections.

Record card index. I’ve spent many an hour (and will spend many more) looking through these.

The Horniman has another collection review going on, in the anthropology department. Their’s is a three year project and has more funding and staff involved. They hope to look into their collection in a very detailed and comprehensive manner (unlike the Bioblitz approach which is quick and focussed on certain parameters). The two projects, although using different methods and time-scales, have some common ground. The Project Co-ordinator for the anthropology review, Sarah Byrne, and I share a Twitter account to share the process of reviewing our collections in different ways with the wider sector and other interested parties. Please take a look and, if you’re on Twitter, feel free to follow us.

The lead up to Christmas will mainly involve the two strands I mentioned above as we get ready for the reviews themselves. At that point the project will become even more interesting and there will be a lot more to share. Next year should be exciting. For now, I’ll leave you with a few more images from my first few weeks at the Horniman. Apologies for the quality but I was forced to use my phone. My camera is now unpacked and ready to go for future posts.

One of the red foxes in the Hands on part of the Natural History Gallery. The other is out in the open to encourage visitors to touch it.

An interesting use of disembodied bird heads…

One of the (living) harvest mice on view at the museum. Incredibly sweet.

When reconciling specimen data, I started with the Hawks…

Before moving onto the Ducks and Geese…

Then the Perching Birds…

And I’ve just finished the Parrots.

A beautiful pine marten on display amongst the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year images.

Part of the stunning gardens at the Horniman.

The aquarium is the only part of the museum and gardens you have to pay to get into. It’s not much, though, and is well worth it.

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4 responses to “Horniman: My First Month

    • Thanks a lot! The beaks are amazing and bizarre. One of the things The Horniman does pretty well. How are thing up in Shropshire? How’s the Music Hall going? I’ll be popping back to see it.

  1. Pingback: Bioblitz: Natural History Collections Review | Wunderkammer·

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