Museum Visit: Manchester Museum

A few weeks ago, due to an unexpected 3 hour train delay in Manchester, I had the opportunity to make my first visit to Manchester Museum, a museum I had heard a great deal about.

As I walked in my eye was caught by a Roman Altar dedicated to Fortuna, a particular favourite of mine as the goddess of good fortune, but who, according to the Roman saying, ‘favours the bold’.

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Altar to Fortuna

I was surprised as I read the label to discover that the altar was on loan to Manchester from the Ashmolean, one of our own museums in Oxford.

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As I moved through the antiquities section there were several highlights for me including their extensive collection of Shabti figures…

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a beautiful Egyptian funerary tablet…

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and three Roman coins. I’ve always been a numismatophile, and I found some interesting Flavian period coins showing a general crowned by victory, a Iudia Capta type symbolising both Rome’s defeat of the Judean uprising and the victory of the Flavians in the civil war, and one featuring a detailed triumphal arch.

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Soldier crowned by Victory
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Iudia Capta
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Triumphal Arch

From antiquities I moved into the natural history section that makes up the majority of the museum. I was struck by the displays, which were extremely well lit to give the appropriate air of mystery.

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In addition to the beautiful displays of specimens…

Imagethis section of the museum also featured a live amphibian lab, which was extremely popular with the kids while I was there (on a Saturday no less).

ImageI was also struck by the number of interactive displays in the museum, none of which I actually chose to use I must say…

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but the interactives for kids were always surrounded, and I had to time it perfectly to get a shot of this 3D simulator without also photographing someone’s child!

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Now that I work in museums, I must say that I am much more drawn to information and displays about the museums themselves than I ever had been in the past. I though that Manchester had an interesting a quirky display about the museum…

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and a great feedback card system which people seemed to actually use!

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They also had a great feedback from, short and to the point, which I actually took the time to complete.

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Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Manchester Museum, both for their great collections, and some interesting ideas for presenting museum collections and engaging audiences.

Jessica Suess

Self-Employed Scribbler, Museum Mogul, Keen Capoeirista, History Hobbyist, Esoteric Enthusiast, Relentless Reader, Thirsty Traveler

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