I’m a fan of curiosity cabinets. I’m sure it’s considered cliché by many museum curators, but I like the whole style of displaying varied collected items in this kind of aesthetically pleasing manner. A number of the cases at Manchester museum present collections in this style. It gives you the opportunity to see a wide range of objects in a small space. Contrasting colours, shapes, textures set alongside each other make for an impressive display. At Manchester Museum they know how to curate a case.
The cases in the Ancient Worlds gallery are wonderful. You can look down into the cases, through numerous glass shelves seeing objects layered over each other in a manner I have not seen in any other museum.
As much as I appreciate shiny new cases, old fashioned museum cases done well are just as impressive. The Living World Gallery at Manchester Museum is a perfect example. They are on either side of the gallery, which has a rather impressive whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. Painted black, they are Edwardian style cases, but the displays have modern twists. Not only are the titles of the cases lit up in shaped neon signage, they combine collection and modern objects. For example a case on peace has a taxidermy crane as well as a beautiful display of origami cranes and a fragment from the Hiroshima explosion.
The Study area is an excellent engagement space. Created for the curious, the makers the searchers and the sharers, it invites visitors to make, sense, discover, share and wonder. I enjoyed reading the thoughts other visitors had written and pegged up.
A unique (to my knowledge) aspect to the Manchester Museum is its Vivarium. Vivarium literally means ‘a place of life’ and the Manchester Museum Vivarium supports the conservation of many rare reptiles and amphibians, as well as allowing the public to see rare species. The window to the behind the scenes section gives visitors an excellent opportunity to see the work that is going on and I highly recommend their frog blog.