Dinosaur Eggshibition!

It’s been a while since I last wrote much on my blog, apart from the regular Friday mystery object. Mainly that’s because I’ve been busy getting to grips with a new collection at the Grant Museum of Zoology, where I am now the Curator. Just before I left my previous job at the Horniman Museum & Gardens I curated an exhibition that has a nice Eastery link (which will become apparent), that I thought might be worth writing about.

The exhibition is a touring show developed under the title Hatching The Past, which was brought to my attention by palaeontologist, science blogger and old friend Dr Dave Hone who’s a lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. I went to the Città della Scienza in Naples with some colleagues from the Horniman to take a look (which is an interesting story in its own right, since the main part of the museum had been burned down by the Mafia in 2013).

Despite the suboptimal exhibition space in Naples (thanks to the fact that the building it was meant to be displayed in was a pile of charcoal), the quality of the science, the objects in the exhibition and the vibrant and exciting artwork by the awesome palaeoartist Luis Rey made it well worth considering for the Horniman, which tries to get in a blockbuster temporary exhibition every year.

This exhibition focuses on the eggs, offspring and parental care of dinosaurs. A family focus is right up the Horniman’s street, and that’s what led to the change in the exhibition title, to bring more focus on that family element, without losing sight of the DINOSAURS!


Star of the exhibition

Of course, making an exhibition intellectually fit into a museum takes more than just changing the name, so the temporary exhibitions at the Horniman include objects from the permanent collection, with links to activities and other content. So while working out my notice from the Horniman I was feverishly selecting objects and writing text to help build that link before I left.


It has to be said that seeing members of the public engaging with your work is incredibly satisfying, so when the exhibition opened in February I was delighted to see people reading my text and really getting interested in the objects I’d picked to tell the story of parental care in living animal groups.


I was also keen to take the opportunity to help the Horniman build closer links with one of their patrons (and a living legend for pretty much every naturalist out there), Sir David Attenborough, who kindly agreed to loan the Elephant Bird egg he found when filming Zoo Quest in Madagascar. This for me is the ultimate version of an egg hunt.

Have a great Easter weekend – I hope you get all the eggs you could ask for!

However you dress it up…

I know Christmas has been and gone, so this post is far from breaking news, but I’ve been meaning to write it ever since I saw this advertisement on a local bus stop:

Now although I’m an atheist, I really don’t have a problem with the advertisement for any reason beyond the utter banality of the message. It’s a bit like saying this:

For both there is an etymological root linking a supernatural figure to the name of a day – it’s very common, just think of other supernatural figures that lend their names to days, like Tiw, Wodin and Freyja. I wonder if we should also remember these deities on their appropriate days? That seems to be the logical implication of the Christian advert.

But then, what should be done about Easter? Maintaining the logic of the Christian advertising around Christmas, it would seem that we should remember that Easter is named for the pagan goddess Ēostre. This seems doubly reasonable since there is hardly any difference between the Christian celebration and the Pagan fertility festival, with all it’s rampant rabbits and eggy delights.

The fact is that by following the logic of the advertising we should either be utterly ignoring the etymological root of Christmas, as we do for Easter and Tuesday, or we should be acknowledging the etymological root for all days named after supernatural beings.

I’ve decided to make sure I remember that Christmas is about Christ, Easter is about Ēostre and Thursday is most definitely about Thor, which is presumably what constitutes hammer time: