What’s in the box?
By Mark Carnall, on 31 January 2011
The Grant Museum of Zoology is currently relocating premises and during the removal, packing, storage, return and unpacking of our specimens there are always a couple of new discoveries made. Boxes which have sat at the back of cupboards or on top of shelves. Sometimes, boxes are cryptically labeled or disappointingly completely empty. For a curator, these boxes can be a wonderful surprise or in some cases a curatorial nightmare. Here are two such boxes.
This box labeled ‘specimen labels’ is simultaneously very exciting and at the same time heart-sinkingly stressful. All of these labels that were purposefully removed? Accidentally detached? Found under a desk? could hold important information for some of our specimens that hasn’t otherwise been preserved. Or they could just be labels that have been updated. Some of them, unfortunately we’ll never be able to find the specimens for with 100% certainty anyway. Ugh, labels, labels, labels.
‘Disarticulated fish skeletons’
This box, sadly, is exactly what is says on the lid. Hundreds of disarticulated skeletons jammed into a box. Potentially there are some new and exciting species of interesting fish! More likely is that this box is just crammed full of cod and sturgeon skeletons. There is a fine tradition of curators accessioning the remains of their lunch as the Manchester Hermit illustrated. Who knows which luminaries may have dined on some of these? Although this box has disarticulated fish skeletons written on it, it also has ‘volunteer project’ and ‘disposal’ written all over it.