Working with The Hunterian Zoology collections

Published on: Author: Harriet Gaston 1 Comment

A student post by Jonathan Norkiewicz, MSc Museum Studies student, University of Glasgow.

During the spring semester of my Museum Studies postgraduate programme I undertook a Zoology work placement with The Hunterian. The goal of this work placement was the creation and updating of The Hunterian’s records in regard to the domestic animal remains in the Kelvin Hall dry storage and to upload these files to the National Zooarchaeological Reference Resource. This resource comprises zoology data on various specimens from many public and private collections around the United Kingdom.

I was truthfully nervous about this placement due to the fact I had very little experience with the zoology discipline and even less with the collections management system used by The Hunterian. My supervisor, Maggie Reilly, taught me how to use The Hunterian’s system on the first day and proceeded to work with me to catalogue the specimens while teaching me the basic anatomy of the animals we worked with. By the end of my time with The Hunterian I was able to recognise many of the bones in the animals we worked with and became adept at navigating my way through the collection management system. In addition, I learned how to properly pack and store the specimens I worked with in the Kelvin Hall stores.

The most amazing part of this work placement was not how much I learned however; it was physically handling the historic specimens. There was a variety of historic specimens donated to The Hunterian with different degrees of preservation, articulation, and age. Some of these specimens had also been misplaced over time and it was gratifying to reunite parts of specimens that had been separated, for whatever reason, through analyzing the bones and looking for any provenance in The Hunterian’s Zoology records.

This work placement was an invaluable experience for me and, though it has come to an end, I am grateful to have undertaken such a wonderful placement with an outstanding supervisor and institution.

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