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Post by Janis Klapecki, Collections Management Specialist (Natural History) The Manitoba Museum receives calls daily inquiring if we are interested in receiving artifacts or specimens for our collections. They may have collected some clam shells while on a family outing to the beach, or have found some “treasure” in Great Aunt Muriel’s attic. We never know what to expect until we actually see the item. In the spring of 1993, we received a call from a woman near Arborg (Manitoba) asking if we would be interested in receiving a butterfly collection. That may sound unusual to some, but for museum staff that work with insects, it’s a common conversation and...
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  This year, our Museum foyer has featured an exhibit of unusual fossils in the New Acquisitions Case. This exhibit, Finding the Impossible: Unique Tropical Fossils from William Lake, Manitoba, included a video "slide show" that documented the expeditions during which we collected these fossils. My colleague remarked to me the other day that this slide show should be shared widely using the Museum blog; this post, and some subsequent ones, will do just that!     The exhibit panel's text gives a brief outline of the project: How does an animal become a fossil? How is a fossil jellyfish even possible? Only bones, teeth and shells are commonly fossilized, while...
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I’m a landlubber I admit it. How could I not be? I’m from Saskatchewan. That’s the driest place in the country! Not only is it completely devoid of coastline, but its largest lake is practically in the arctic. Before I came here I did field work in Grasslands National Park, a place where the Frenchman “River” is shallow enough to wade across. Then I did field work in the Great Sand Hills, a place where there is no water at all, just sand. When I moved to Manitoba I noticed right away that something was wrong; the air was weird. I’m used to having all the moisture sucked out of...
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Post by Loren Rudisuela, Conservation Technician This home chemistry set came into the conservation lab for treatment after being selected for display in the soon to be constructed Winnipeg Gallery which is part of the Museum's Bringing Our Stories Forward Capital Gallery Renewal Project.  The set was acquired by the museum in 1979 and was manufactured by Lotts Bricks Ltd., a toy company based in Waterford, England. It was noticed during an initial condition report that the cardboard insert was weak, ripped, and warped in several locations and needed to be stabilized before display.  Since the cardboard had warped over time, the loose and broken parts would no longer fit...
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Matthew Gowdar, Collections and Conservation Assistant This summer, I was given the amazing opportunity to work at the Manitoba Museum through the Young Canada Woks program.  From the end of May until mid-August, I held the full-time position of Collections and Conservation Assistant. While this was not my first experience working at a museum or archive, the Manitoba Museum was certainly a step up for me, in terms of scale.  As a History major at the University of Manitoba, this opportunity was especially exciting, as it fell directly within my field of study. Each day started with a gallery walk through the whole museum.  I would check for garbage and damage...
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Last week I spent some time looking for rare and under-collected plants in the “Turtle Mountains” of Manitoba. First off let me say that I think the term “Manitoba mountain” needs its own definition in the dictionary. To most people the word “mountain” conjures up images of snow-capped peaks and sure-footed Mountain Goats clambering up rocky screes. Climbing a mountain is to risk life itself due to treacherous terrain, exposure to harsh weather and utter physical exhaustion. In contrast, climbing a “Manitoba mountain” is to risk breaking out in a light sweat, if it’s a hot day-a really hot one.  Now please don’t get me wrong, I love the Turtle...
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by Claire Woodbury, Science Communicator “Once upon a time there was a beautiful and talented weaver, the daughter of the Sky King. She met and fell in love with a handsome and skilled herdsman. They were so devoted to each other that they neglected all else. The weaver stopped weaving and the herdsmen let his animals wander all over the place. The Sky King didn’t approve of this behaviour and separated the lovers on either side of the heavenly river. His daughter was heartbroken and despondent so the Sky King relented and allowed the couple to meet, but only once a year. Every year, on the seventh day of the...
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The Perseid Meteor Shower for 2018 by Claire Woodbury, Science Communicator The highlight of August sky observing is the Perseid meteor shower. A meteor shower is a high occurrence of shooting stars over several days. Of course, “shooting stars” aren’t really stars at all, but dust-sized bits of rock or metal (meteoroids) that collide with the earth and burn up in our atmosphere. As they vaporize, they cause a brief streak of light in the sky (a meteor) which can be seen from the ground. Rarely, a larger version of a meteoroid survives its time as a meteor and makes it to the ground intact; we call these meteorites. Confused with the similar-sounding...
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The summer of ugly plants

Botany

For the last 13 years I have spent part of my summer studying beautiful plants; plants with big displays of nice-smelling flowers. The reason I was studying them was because I was interested in learning which insects like to visit them for their nectar and pollen. However, this year I realized that for too long I have been neglecting the ugly plants; you know the ones that we step on without a care. So what are these ugly plants and why are they so unattractive? Most of them are grasses, sedges and rushes but some are aquatic plants--the ones that tickle your legs when you go for a swim in...
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I was watching an old episode of “The Big Bang Theory” and Sheldon asked Penny what her favorite fruit was. Penny said “strawberries” to which Sheldon replied “technically NOT a fruit”. My daughter turned to me and asked “is that true” and I said “yes, sort of.” Let me explain why. Plants have sex. The evidence of their many dalliances lands on our lawns and patio furniture in the form of pollen in the spring and later on in the year as spores, seeds and fruits. What’s the difference between these structures? Well, pollen is like sperm in a tiny ping pong ball, a spore is like a naked baby,...
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