The end of the bones

Bone Detectives

for British Science Week

12th – 20th March 2016

Orbit-2

There were bones, and teeth, there were skulls and even the fragmented paw of a cave lion. And there was time to look, to handle , turn over, touch, test a fingertip against a crocodile’s tooth.

the buffalo skull was very popular

the buffalo skull was very popular

Time to talk, wonder, ask and ask again and say, “No!” and “What’s a hyrax?” and

“This is a porpoise?”

“Where is the elephant’s trunk?”

“Can I pick this up? Oh. Can I pick that up? Good”

 

There were beautiful replica skulls for the slightly squeamish and gloves for the bolder – or for anyone who just wanted to look sort-of-scientific like they were on some police procedural drama

Skulls- long

For British Science Week, in a collaboration between Stone and Water, Buxton Museum’s Collections in the Landscape project and Creeping Toad, we ran a series of “Bone Detectives” workshops. These set out to introduce people to some basic skull features to look for and understand the clues they can give us about the original animal. The thought was that this would encourage people to look – to really open their eyes when they are out or maybe even to set off and do the hopeful walk they wouldn’t have done before

 

Skulls, skeletons or bits often turn up on walks over the moors of the Peak District, or perhaps are found by someone strolling in a casually acquisitive manner along a beach. We were looking for the questions (and their answers) that would set some inspired investigation in motion. We concentrated mostly on British mammal skulls – given time and the scope of vertebrate anatomy we had to draw some lines somewhere. But there were extension opportunities and as confidence grew, participants could move onto British bird skulls, a few exotic extras – a crocodile, assorted horns, replica hyrax, lynx and wallaby and a wide selection of shells including a spread of annoying cone shells (this one? That one? No, the other one? Why would you call something a geographical cone, for goodness sake”. There was even a d-i-y snake spine

Low BD 302

The workshops were a delight: from keenly questioning WATCH members to the surprise of casual visitors, workshops invite participation and challenged preconceptions. “But it’s so small! “ (same comment applied to rabbit, rat and squirrel skulls). People brought their own puzzles with them: beautfully delicate mouse and hedgehog skulls, a mysterious jaw bone (probably sheep), the museum added some mind-boggling teeth: woolly rhino and hyena.

 

The very bold in the museum went off to find the cave bear skull

Low Cave bear 2

We were pleased: these were sessions that maybe didn’t get quite the quiet, dedicated concentration we had imagined but they were sessions that got people handling material, talking, asking questions, feeling more confident.

 

Sources:

Just to be clear, the skulls and shells we sued were all found materials or were already in established collections. Nothing was killed for the sake of this project

 

Reproduction skulls came from a wonderful online shop: CrimsonRichDesire

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Bone Detectives, 1

Bone Detectives 1

The secrets of the skulls

Buxton Museum and Art gallery, 12th March 2016

Low-BD1

There were skulls, and some more skulls, and a Victorian Engineer’s cabinet of little bits of things and a decoupage box of seashells and then a box of mystery skulls….There was laughter and drawing and attempts to have big sisters/little brothers eaten…and there is more to come

a shell that went round and round, and the drawing that did the same

a shell that went round and round, and the drawing that did the same

see the foot of the page...

see the foot of the page…

the buffalo skull was very popular

the buffalo skull was very popular

Wednesday 16th March: Bone Detectives, 2:at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Rd, Buxton, SK17 6DA, Tel: 01629 533540. 1 session: 10am – 1pm

This is a free session with activities and delivery aimed more at adults or young people of secondary school age

Again, this workshop is free and visitors are welcome to drop in. We recommend allowing an hour to work through activities but you are welcome to come for longer and spend more time handling, drawing and talking about the bones, skulls and shells we will have on display

Visitors are welcome to bring their own clean mystery finds with them – with no guarantee that we’ll be able to solve the mystery but have confidence that we will be enthusiastic about them!

Our wonderful friends in the community group Stone and Water have achieved a grant from BSW towards the community participation in these events and to cover the costs of a similar session with a youth group. In fact, we’ve got 2 – so a local WATCH group is going to be going all skeletal and what will happen to Taxal Scouts, I almost dread to think.

deeply involved

deeply involved

These events are supported by British Science Week and are also part of Buxton Museum’s Collections in the Landscape project

That drawing: australopithecus skulls, sheep skull, the bear in the corner of the gallery, some scared people…and a landrover…you can sort the story out yourself!

skulls, packed, a mug of tea and a stray chamaeleon bone...

skulls, packed, a mug of tea and a stray chamaeleon bone…

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