Natural world comes to Birmingham in 2.7 million museum relaunch

The Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham is to officially reopen on Tuesday 21st June, after a massive refurbishment and installation of new exhibits.

From diamonds to dinosaurs, to the Dudley bug and extinct 'Coseley' spider; the museum which is free of charge, will inspire and engage the public with treasures from the natural world.  The museum will also provide sessions in an interactive educational room for groups of school children.

Following an extensive £2.7 million revamp, visitors will be able to enjoy a state-of-the-art museum experience showcasing one of the UK’s most outstanding rock, fossil and mineral collections, through a range of innovative and interactive exhibits

Exploring life in the Midlands over the past 3.5 billion years; from rocks and fossils to volcanoes, earthquakes, and dinosaurs, the Museum will capture the imagination of all ages.

Jon Clatworthy, director of the Museum, said:

‘This has been a transformational refurbishment which will dramatically change the way in which we interact with our visitors. The new exhibits will provide a far more hands-on approach to learning about the 3.5 billion years of history we showcase here, and the building refurbishment means we are able to feature far more of our extensive collection in an inspiring and innovative way. We are very excited to welcome visitors of all ages back through the Museum’s doors, it has opened up one of the gems on the campus to the community.’

The redevelopment has been made possible thanks to a transformative Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1.5m and the generous support of University of Birmingham alumni, and a number of grant awarding bodies, trusts and foundations.

Sir Paul Nurse will officially open the museum in a plaque unveiling ceremony, there will be a welcome from Professor Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in science, other speakers include Sir David Eastwood, Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Jon Clathworthy, , Director of the Lapworth Museum and Sue Beardsmore from major funders Heritage Lottery Fund 

The Museum is situated in the University’s Aston Webb building on its historic Edgbaston campus, with access via the entrance on the University ring road.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact Rebecca Hume, Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on 0121 414 9041 or email R.L.Hume@bham.ac.uk

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Notes to Editors:

The Lapworth Museum of Geology has been closed since late 2014 for a £2.5m refurbishment, made possible by a £1.56m Heritage Lottery Fund grant. It reopened to the public on Friday 10 June.

The event will include a welcome from Professor Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science.

10 Amazing objects found at the museum:

Dudley Bug – a 428 million year old trilobite

Extinct animals that lived in the oceans and looked like giant modern woodlice. This type with a scientific name- Calymene blumenbachii is a famous type found in the Limestones around Dudley and became known as the “Dudley Bug”

“Coseley Spider” (Eophrynus prestvicii)

Actually a spider-like arachnid.  From the Black Country and the best preserved example from the late Carboniferous Period around  315 million years ago. It was an active predator chasing its prey before it it off with its powerful jaws.

Mineral from the lead mines of Shropshire

Cubes of lead on calcite coated with quartz from the Lead mines of Shropshire near Shelve and Snailbeach, which at one time were some of the richest mines in Europe.

A modern hippo skull

A scientist at the University was working on fossil beetles from around the lat Ice Age but was also fining bones in his samples so he wanted to gather up all sorts of  modern mammal bones to help identify what he found. This hippo died at a zoo and was collected –the entire skeleton flesh intact- by the scientist and brought back to Clent in his estate car. He also kept falcons and bred Scottish wildcats so he fed the flesh to his animals, buried the skeleton in his garden to let bacteria clean it up, and then dug it up again a couple years later. Students at UoB are still given the entire skeleton and have to be able to put it back together correctly.

Burgess Shale animal

Hurdia from the World Heritage Site in British Columbia this is a strange extinct animal from the 510 million years old Burgess Shale -famous for its unique fossils. The flattened fossil is placed by a recreation of the entire original animal.

D-Day landing maps

Top secret map prepared by Coventry born and later later Prof of Geology at Birmingham University. During WWII, then Major Shotton carried out much top secret planning work for the army making use of his geological knowledge. These maps guided ships, troops and equipment safely onto and off of the D-day landing beaches. In an attempt to stop the army getting bogged down on the beahes which were treacherous in many places.

J.J. Shaw Seismograph

J.J.Shaw (1873-1948) was a West Bromwich based pawnbroker who became interested in earthquakes. He built a device to record earthquakes, using bits of bikes, tin cans, knitting needles and anything else he could find. When it worked he had his prototype precision made and turned his greenhouse and cellar at his home in West Bromwich into a mini production line. The seismograph was distributed around the world and became the standard device for measuring earthquakes. Shaw also recorded earthquakes in his seismic observatory that he set up in his home.

Ammonite

A large and beautiful 190 million years old ammonite from Harbury in Warwickshire. Ammonites are extinct, but are relatives of modern-day squid and octopuses. This example is preserved by a mineral called pyrite or fools gold hence its gold/brassy appearance.

Dinosaur femur

From the Middle Jurassic rocks of the Cotswolds. This is a very well preserved femur of a sauropod dinosaur, possibly Cetiosauriscus.

It would have weighed around 12 tonnes, but was not that big for a sauropod.

Pterosaur

A flying reptile from around 85 million years ago.