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Manx National Heritage Launch New Natural History Gallery 19 July 2005

    Manx National Heritage is delighted to announce that the public opening of the new Natural History Gallery at the Manx Museum took place on Saturday 16th July 2005.

    The new Gallery was formally opened by the Chief Minister, Hon. D. J. Gelling CBE MLC on the evening of Friday 15th July, when Manx National Heritage Trustees and over a hundred VIP guests were in attendance.

    Chairman of Manx National Heritage, Mr Martin Moore said:

    “Visitors to the Natural History Gallery will now notice significant changes to the gallery which has recently undergone a major face lift as part of Manx National Heritage’s policy of refreshing existing exhibitions and displays. The planning and creative thinking behind the gallery began more than three years ago when it’s main objectives were defined as inspiring a sense of wonder about the island, encouraging further exploration in the landscape, helping identification of the “black shapes in the sky” and using the physical space of the gallery to create an immediate visual “wow” factor”.

    An underwater route through the galleries Irish Sea corridor brings you into the main exhibition area where you can explore six places around the Isle of Man with diverse wildlife habitats. From the unspoiled landscape of the southern Meayll Peninsula to the urban townscape of Ramsey you can discover through films and real specimens what makes each place special and what animals, plants and birds can be spotted around the Island.

    As well as encouraging you to go out and explore the Island, the new gallery also reveals the riches of the museum’s natural history collections. Huge glass cases take centre stage and their contents, including birds, fish, fossils and plants, can be studied using the interactive table tops which bring the specimens to life.

    Smaller specimens, including moths, beetles and butterflies, can be found in a series of special drawer units. In another innovative use of technology the drawers are linked directly to touch screen computers which deliver fascinating facts about the collections on display.

    Kate Hawkins, Manx National Heritage Curator of Natural History said:

    “This new gallery has been a fantastic opportunity to bring the collections and the landscape together to celebrate and promote the Island’s unique biodiversity. We have developed lots of innovative display techniques including games and interactive displays to get our messages across. These have proved a hit with all our visitors, particularly with family groups”.

    Chief Minister, the Hon. D. J. Gelling CBE MLC, said:

    ”The new Natural History Gallery is an excellent portrayal of the Isle of Man’s unique natural heritage. The gallery is not only visually stimulating, but also presented to the highest professional standards and is a credit to the work of Manx National Heritage and the Island as a whole”.

    Fans of our largest museum exhibit, the Sei Whale, will be pleased to find that the huge skeleton, a prominent exhibit in the old gallery, has been given a new lease of life. Archive photographs help to tell the story of its recovery from Derbyhaven and subsequent preparation for display in the museum.

    Over five hundred specimens from the collections can be seen in the gallery, however, Manx National Heritage still needs your help to find an iconic tailless Manx cat. Despite appeals earlier in the year no suitable specimens have been found. Fortunately the Cliffe Castle museum in Keighly kindly agreed to loan their specimen for a short period, but “Topsy” will soon return home to West Yorkshire.

    The natural history of the Isle of Man has recently been endorsed as the “jewel in the crown” of the Island by Tynwald and it follows that the new gallery at the Manx Museum can only be described as a real gem!

    19th July 2005

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