Blaschka: Glass creatures of the Ocean – An Illustrated History of The Natural History Museum (NHM), London Collection


© The Natural History Museum, London 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Illustrated lecture with Miranda Lowe, The Natural History Museum (NHM), London Curator
Date: Thursday, May 10
Time: 8:00
Admission: $8

Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Although more famously know for the making the glass flowers exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the father and son partnership of Leopold (1822-1895) and Rudolf (1857-1939) Blaschka also made numerous marine invertebrate glass models. Some of the first models they made were sea anemones in the early 1860’s. The Natural History Museum (NHM), London purchased their first set around 1865 and holds over 185 Blaschka glass models consisting of anemones, sea slugs, jellyfish, octopus, squid, protozoans and corals representing their entire model making career. The models were made in a variety ways with many formed over wire skeletons (known as armatures) with the glass fused together or glued. Profiled in various scientific sales catalogues such as Henry A. Ward’s they were to sold museums, universities and private collectors by the Blaschkas themselves and various agents who worked on their behalf worldwide. In the past these models were of scientific importance in teaching but as trends change their significance as works of art are also being highlighted. Each glass model is a unique blend of art, science and craftsmanship looking more life-like than real specimens whose natural colours may fade when stored in jars of preservation fluid over time. This highly illustrated lecture will give a fascinating insight to this collection housed at one of the major natural history museums in the world.

Miranda Lowe is the Collections Manager of the Marine Invertebrates Division, Zoology Department, The Natural History Museum (NHM), London. Within Zoology Miranda specifically manages the Crustacea collections as well as the team of curators responsible for the Invertebrate collections. Darwin barnacles and the Blaschka marine invertebrate glass models are amongst some of the historical collections that are her interests and under her care. In 2006, she was part of the organising committee and invited speaker at the 1st international Blaschka congress held in Dublin. Miranda collaborated with the National Glass Centre, Sunderland, UK in 2008 to exhibit some of the Museum’s Blaschka collection alongside contemporary Blaschka inspired art. She also has an interest in photography, natural history - past and present serving on a number of committees including the Society for the History of Natural History (SHNH) and the Natural Sciences Association (NatSCA).

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