All dressed up and no-one to see us!
As you will have seen in the current newsletter, the opening of our new exhibition At the Water’s Edge is one of the activities postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, everything is almost ready for when the Museum does open – the cases are in place, the interpretation panels hung, and the models installed.
Two of the fossils on loan (those from Oxford University Museum of Natural History) are also in position and the staff at National Museums Scotland (NMS) are committed to couriering the remaining loan items at the earliest opportunity. Dr Stig Walsh was due to deliver the loans from both the British Geological Survey and NMS on Thursday 19th March but the rapidly worsening situation meant that all non-essential travel was cancelled by NMS the afternoon before, just a couple of hours before he was due to leave the office. We were so nearly there, but obviously the health and well-being of staff and volunteers takes priority.
The panel that explains the finding of the Elginerpeton material includes the photograph below, taken by Robert Clack in 1992, when a team from NMS visited the site at Scaat Craig. Professor Jenny Clack (University of Cambridge) was Per Ahlberg’s PhD supervisor and the person that Per first showed the OUMNH fossils to when he realized that they were tetrapod bones, rather than the labelled fish material; Per is the photographer at the left of the picture. Sadly, Jenny died last week (26th March) after a long period of ill health, but her help in the preparation of the exhibition has been invaluable; the EM Geology Group wrote to her husband, Robert, to offer our condolences and to let him see the finished artwork.
Janet is further adding to the Elginerpeton story with a new display focusing on the discoverer of the Scaat Craig site, John Martin. Martin was a school teacher at nearby Clackmarras and subsequently became the first curator of Elgin Museum. In 1837, he made the first geological map of Moray and this subsequently appeared as Plate I in Patrick William Duff’s book ‘A Sketch of the Geology of Moray’, published in 1842.
As well as Martin’s map, the display will include additional fossil material from Scaat Craig, kindly being loaned by Bob Davidson, who is behind the camera in the centre of the 1992 photograph. Janet and Dave visited the Scaat Craig outcrop last month and went in search of the old school house. Completely unexpectedly, they were invited in by the current owners and given a tour of the house. Although much changed since Martin’s time, the original layout can still be determined, and both very much enjoyed the hospitality offered.
Although the exhibition is not yet open, the web pages remain live – have a look if you would like a taster of what is to come. There is also a ‘Coasts and Waters’ quiz based on these web pages if you want to test yourself on our Education & Outreach page.
Dr Alison Wright
Elgin Museum Geology Group
The Moray Society is delighted to announce that project funding for Elgin Museum has been secured from The Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, which is supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation. This UK wide programme offers funding for museums and galleries to borrow objects from national collections for public display and, as the only Scottish recipient of an award, we are thrilled that our work is being recognised by such a prestigious organisation as the Art Fund.
Under the loan scheme, Elgin Museum will be working in partnership with National Museums Scotland (NMS) to exhibit fossil material collected locally in the late 19th Century of a very early tetrapod. These animals were the first to show adaptations that ultimately allowed life to move out of the water and on to land. No fossils of Elginerpeton pancheni are held by the Museum so this funding provides an exciting opportunity for us to exhibit these important finds. Material will also be loaned by the British Geological Survey and by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History as part of the project. These fossils have not been seen in Elgin since they were first discovered so we are pleased to be able to bring them home again and explain their global significance to a local audience.
The temporary exhibition entitled ‘At the Water’s Edge’ will run throughout the Museum’s 2020 season and will tie in with the Scottish Government’s designated Year of Coasts and Waters (#YCW2020). The Museum is closed to the public over the winter, but we look forward to welcoming visitors to the exhibition when we reopen at the end of March. Admission to the Museum is free and more information about events and activities linked to the exhibition and to #YCW2020 will follow in due course. Several local organisations and businesses will be involved in helping us deliver this exhibition, including Moray ReachOut, a social enterprise which provides space for vulnerable adults to gain training and work experience.
Money from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund will be used to purchase two new display cases and to upgrade the Museum’s environmental monitoring system. As well as facilitating the loan from NMS, the improvements will greatly enhance our ability to borrow other objects in the future and we are extremely grateful for the legacy opportunities that this funding will provide.
Elgin Museum Reopens for the 2019 Season!
We’re delighted to announce that the Museum has officially reopened to the public for the 2019 season. This year we have a number of new displays, a wonderful programme of art exhibitions and new family friendly activities to explore. We also have a great programme of family events planned throughout the year – download the 2019 family activities programme (pdf 654kb) to find out more. We’ll also be open to visitors on Sundays throughout the summer after last year’s successful trial.
Opening hours for the 2019 Season are: Monday to Friday, 10 am – 5 pm; Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm. Entry this year remains FREE!
International Women’s Day 2019
On Friday March 8th, we welcomed visitors to the Museum to celebrate International Women’s Day with coffee, conversation, and displays on women in Moray. Thanks, as ever, to our wonderful volunteers for all their hard work on the day.
Carved Stone Balls Under the Microscope
Elgin Museum’s carved stone balls are of continuing interest to Chris Stewart-Moffitt, now a PhD student at Aberdeen University. This time he was following up an unreferenced comment he’d previously noticed on the catalogue card that the stone here under the microscope is “dubious”. This assessment may be because it is larger than the average size for these intriguing Neolithic artefacts. We await Chris’s appraisal.