Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Collections through Cake: Fossil Diving Beetle

I know what you’re thinking… YUK! But this specimen is no dung beetle. This is a FOSSILISED diving beetle from the La Brea Tar Pits near Los Angeles.

The diving beetle is taxonomically known as Cybister explanatus. It is from the family Dytiscidae – diving beetles from this family are all predators. According to ‘That Internet’ C. explanatus is edible and is commonly eaten roasted in tacos in Mexico.

Lucy's fossilised diving beetle cake!

The La Brea Tar Pits are fascinating just in themselves. Unlike C. explanatus, many of the animals excavated from the tar pits are now extinct, such as the giant ground sloth or the sabre-toothed tiger. Over 3.5 million specimens make up the collections specific to La Brea. 

Current excavations are looking specifically for the microfossils, such as beetles and plants. You can explore the specimens at Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. 

One of the reasons I love the #MusCake project so much is that it really helps us see what amazing specimens there are across all our collections.

By First World War Projects Curator Lucy Moore

Friday, 7 February 2014

Collections through Cake: Burmantofts Vent Brick

One of the partnership projects that curators look forward to each year is with St James' Hospital. In Spring we install a number of cases into the Bexley Wing there, taking our objects into the hospital for all visitors to see. 

In 2013 the theme was Floral Museum the project was designed by Kirsty, who at the time was our Natural Science Curatorial Trainee. One of her favourite objects that she chose to include was this  amazing Leeds Fireclay Company (from Burmantofts) ventilation brick:

What would be the perfect #MusCake medium to repeat this beautiful ventilation brick in? Chocolate fudge cake of course! 

The flowers fill me with the hope that Spring is on the way ... 

By First World War Projects Curator Lucy Moore

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Collections through Cake: Yorkshire Parkin

To celebrate the opening of the new 'Snapshot of Yorkshire' exhibtion at Abbey House Museum, our Site Development Officer Gemma looked into our collections for a recipe for Yorkshire Parkin!

We have a lovely book from 1878 full of handwritten recipes that belonged to Mary Elston.

The recipe shown is for a delicious-sounding Lemon Pudding! The parkin recipe involves a whopping 2 pounds of treacle!  It goes without saying that it was beautifully delicious.

 Have you made your own parkin? What's your favourite recipe? 

By First World War Projects Curator Lucy Moore

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Pyke pedestal organ clock project

In the collections at Temple Newsam House there is a splendid pedestal organ clock from 1765 made by George Pyke. When it functions it can play eight different tunes via its weight driven organ. It is part of a larger group of similar objects by English makers, which are represented in collections in museums in Beijing, Naples, Utrecht, London and Birmingham. George Friedrich Handel wrote music for the pedestal organ clocks made by Charle Clay. Pyke was apprenticed to Clay and continued working in Clay's tradition. This object, acquired in 1954, possibly had Handel music originally but it is known with certainty that the organ's barrel was re-pinned in 1817.

This pedestal organ clock has not functioned properly for some time, and the decision was made to stop its function until such time as sufficient funds became available for a programme of conservation and restoration works to its organ, automata, clock movement, metalwork and case. Comprehensive reports on its condition, with treatment proposals were done by a West Dean College student, Brittany Cox, and these formed the basis of finding the funding for the project. 95% of the funds have been secured from donors: from the family of Raymond Burton, in his memory, of Burton's Menswear fame, and who during his life was incredibly supportive of Temple Newsam; from the Pilgrim Trust; and from The Friends of Leeds Museum. The remaining balance will be funded by Leeds Museums and Galleries. The project is live, and the Pyke pedestal organ clock has been dismantled, packed up and shipped to West Dean College for a "full monty" programme of conservation and restoration works. The Pyke pedestal organ clock is due back at Temple Newsam House in mid-July, all singing and all dancing for the benefit and enjoyment of our visitors! Watch this space for updates as the project progresses.

Twitter updates on works to the Pyke pedestal organ clock available by following:

By Ian Fraser