I love this set of twelve Blackburn Times articles that Vanessa Mitchell (keeper of art at Blackburn) and I came across while at the Blackburn library. They were written by the Blackburn museum curator during the 1900s who took a set of accompanying photographs from the museum’s well-known diorama.
Here we have the installment from 2 May 1914 on the badger and as the strap line to the article indicates these were aimed at a younger audience, perhaps one that would otherwise not have visited the museum or indeed engaged with one of our most wonderful wild animals.
I know of other late nineteenth and early twentieth century examples where curators use their knowledge of the collections, their love of the natural world, and a passion for photography to engage with audiences. Sometimes through magic lanterns, and cinematography but especially so through the local press.
I’ll keep posting the odd one or two up from this series, or if I can get my head around the technicalities, perhaps create a separate page for them on this blog. Please let me know of examples you may have in your own institutions. I think there would be a wonderfully engaging and enlightening article/book in this.
What is particularly charming about the badger article is that this exhibit is still on display at the museum, as anyone arriving in the beautiful entrance hall of the museum would have seen for themselves.
Of course where images such as these are important is in providing a record of the displays at the museum that now have been updated and replaced. For some, they are the only record of specimens that have not survived the passage of time.
The diorama that these were a part of was a very popular feature of the museum and recovering reminiscences of those displays is something I’m very keen to do. Anyone with experience in this, or indeed with memories of the displays, do contact me, or post up a comment.