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Tower Museum to explore Curious Collections

13 April 2018

The Tower Museum is to focus on the weird and wonderful next week with a fascinating talk by Dr Mike Simms around the array of strange items currently on display in its Curious Collections.

The exhibition is on show at the museum as part of the N. Ireland Science Festival, and Dr Simms will be revealing more about the unusual origins of some of the items which turn up in museum collections at 7pm on Thursday April 17th.

Curator at the Tower Museum, Roisin Doherty, said the talk would give an insight into how museum collections are sourced. “Curators like Dr Simms are the reason museums still hold mystery and fascination for visitors, and we are very much looking forward to hearing more of his insight and experiences in this field.

“The Curious Collections have attracted lots of interest and it’s been a fantastic way to draw some new visitors to the museum. Selecting some of the most unusual items from the museum stores was certainly a challenge. In the Anatomy display you will find a medical handsaw, from the New World there’s a snake in a bottle and under Science & Investigation, we encourage you to come and have a look at our Mickey Mouse Gas Mask or consider the working of Railway Pressure Gauges.

“I would really recommend coming along to hear a bit more about these fascinating items and Dr Simms’ adventures in curation.”

Dr Simms collected his first fossils in 1967 at the age of 6, and has been a scientist ever since. From those early days his interests have broadened to encompass topics across many fields of science, from caves and limestone landscapes to climate and sea level change, from meteorites and asteroid impacts to the Periodic Table. He curated most of the Ulster Museum’s science galleries and the Ulster Museum’s Elements exhibition, which is unique in Europe. Incredibly popular with visitors, whether scientists or not, Elements explores the relevance of the chemical elements to everyday life. Drawing from across the museum’s entire collections, it really is a ‘cabinet of curiosities'. 

In his talk Dr Simms will explore how collecting curious objects was the driving force behind the creation of some of the earliest museums, and how it still is today even if the curators don’t always realise it. He will tell some of the amazing stories behind some of the objects that found their way into the Elements exhibition, and about others that he still hopes might one day be added to it.

Spaces are limited for all these events and it is essential that you book in advance. For places please contact [email protected] or phone 028 71372411 to RSVP.

A number of special handling sessions will also be taking place over the coming weeks allowing people to get a closer view of the artefacts. An Autism Friendly workshop will take place on Thursday 26th April at 1:30pm and a Dementia Friendly session on Thursday 17th May 1:30pm.

Teachers should note that they can also get in touch with the Tower Museum regarding Education packs for schools as well as KS2 and KS3 workshops and tours.