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Linking Collections is a project that unites the natural science collections found in the museums across Wales. Put together these make up a distributed natural history collection for the whole of Wales, forming a part of our shared cultural and scientific heritage.

As part of this project a touring exhibition entitled ‘Stuffed, Pickled & Pinned: 50 Wonders of Nature in Welsh Museums’ has been developed. Formed from a selection of objects and specimens from across the regional museums the exhibition will visit 18 museums over the next three years!

In preparation for the tour the chosen specimens and objects were brought together at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. Here the Natural Sciences conservation team prepared them for their three year journey by creating packaging to protect them in transit, minimise the need for handling and, where necessary, provide an easy form of display.

The exhibition contains a very diverse range of natural history specimens and objects with many different packaging and display requirements. For a number of the specimens specific support mounts were made from a conservation grade of inert foam called Plastazote.

For other specimens it was possible to create a display mount that also provides support when in transit. A good example is the puffer fish. This has been mounted on black Plastazote that slides out of a Correx box that opens from the side. For extra support when travelling a thin strip of Plastazote is placed diagonally across the puffer fish and secured to the base with entomology pins.

A pickled (fluid preserved) adder from Llandudno Museum required some creative packaging to protect it when travelling. Two plastic tubs were cut to shape and Plastazote padding placed at each end. The specimen jar is then placed inside and empty space filled with acid free tissue. The plastic tub is then placed tightly within a thick black Plastazote box. 

An option for some of the fossils was to package them so that they could be displayed in their box. Plastazote with cut outs support the specimen and they can be presented as they are or at an angle on a Perspex support.

Old entomology boxes have also been put to good use as a way of creating a display case for collections of small specimens such as eggs and shells.

The Linking Collections Exhibition “Stuffed, Pickled & Pinned; 50 Wonders of Nature in Welsh Museums” opened at Powysland Museum on October 20th 2015. Further information can be found on the People’s Collection Wales website - http://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/475828

Ruth Murgatroyd, Masters Student in Conservation at Cardiff University

Julian Carter

Principal Conservator, Natural Sciences
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