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Museum Galleries
Thursday – Sunday
11 am – 5 pm

Planetarium
Saturday & Sunday
11 am – 5 pm

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Category Archives: Collections & Research

Cover Shot

Around the Museum this morning, people are excited that Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez visited over the weekend, enjoying a private dinner aboard the Nonsuch.  I am pleased that they liked the Museum, and that they were particulary interested in Ancient Seas. But there is another piece of external attention that I am just as pleased about, even if it is unlikely to ever attract a story on Entertainment Tonight.  In fact, I would have…

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Taxonomists: The Curious George’s of Science

At the heart of every taxonomist is a curious little monkey who just can’t stop exploring the world around him or her, sometimes to their detriment.  I was reading a great book called “The Plant Hunters” by Tyler Whittle and was amazed at the trials and tribulations that early botanists like William Dampier (1651-1715), Philibert Commerson (1727-1773) and David Douglas (1799-1834) went through.  Curiosity drove them to explore the remote…

Also posted in Botany | Comments closed

A.M.E.T.H.Y.S.T.

For the past several years, I have been working with the Mineral Society of Manitoba to develop a mineral exhibit at the Museum. This partnership has been a wonderfully positive one; among other achievements the Society has donated to us a gorgeous selenite (gypsum) cluster from the Winnipeg Floodway, which I hope to show you on this page at some point. So it was not a total surprise when in…

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An Exhibit with Teeth

We loved doing this exhibit. To us, it was an opportunity to explore some of the best aspects of the traditional Natural History museum. And the public seemed to thoroughly enjoy it; we would always see family groups in the exhibit, animatedly discussing the various skulls and comparing their similarities. It really showed us that traditional exhibits can still fulfil an important function in the modern museum!

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Voyage of Discovery

You may have heard of those situations when a large museum discovers an unknown dinosaur in its back rooms, stored away in field jackets from some long-past collecting expedition. But what you might not appreciate is that many of the most important fossil discoveries are made in museum collections, not in the field.

Also posted in Geology & Paleontology, Research | Comments closed

Fun with Fungus!

It’s that time of the year when I’ve finished writing reports and analyzing data and actually get to look at all the stuff I collected last summer.  I’ve just finished identifying my vascular plants and now I get to look at the fungus!  Using the photographs I took of the fresh mushrooms and the notes I wrote up in the field, I settle down at my desk with a hand…

Also posted in Botany | Comments closed

Christmas Fruits

Botanically speaking, a fruit is the plant part that contains seeds.  Before the invention of modern refrigeration, fresh fruit was only eaten when it was in season.  To enjoy fruits at other times of the year, preservation was necessary.  Drying fruits by burying them in sand or sun-drying them is the oldest method, beginning in ancient Egypt over 6,000 years ago.  Plums, currants and cranberries are all native to northern…

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Christmas Spices

The spices we typically associate with Christmas baking, like nutmeg and cinnamon, all grow in tropical areas.  Before the shipping of spices became reliable, they were rare and expensive in Europe, and for this reason used only for special occasions like weddings and holidays.  Many traditional Christmas desserts are made with a variety of exotic spices.  Mulled beverages, like wassail, are prepared by heating the liquid with a mixture of…

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Motherload!

If we think about it at all, most of us tend to consider dung (poop) as a substance to be gotten rid of, not something to be collected and treasured. And that is the case for at least 99.9% of it, but of course the situation is different when the dung is in fossilized form, and when it comes from giant, long-extinct creatures. Fossilized dinosaur dung, or coprolites, has been studied for…

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Christmas Nuts

For many people, roasting chestnuts and snacking on fresh nuts is a Christmas tradition.  Besides humans, the only other animals that can effectively crack the shells of nuts are those with strong, chisel-like teeth, namely rodents.  Rodents, like squirrels, harvest nuts in the fall and store them for the cold winter months just like we do.  Nuts are a good source of protein and contain many vitamins, minerals and healthy…

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