28th January, 2015

Latest news from Kendal Museum

My name is Rachel Petts, I am the Collection Assistant Intern at Kendal Museum. I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty and complexity of nature; while studying Zoology at Edinburgh university, I was given the opportunity to research and draw objects from the university’s collection. I knew then, while sketching a baleen plate, bat skeletons and a taxidermy platypus that I wanted to work in museums; I wanted to be involved hands on with collections.


After volunteering in museums across West Yorkshire, I gained valuable skills and experience, helping to make collections more accessible. Now I feel privileged to be working at one of the oldest museums in the country. Kendal museum was founded in 1796 and has a large and varied natural history collection, including Victorian taxidermy, extensive herbarium collections stored in their original mahogany cabinets, and geology displays presenting the geological history of the Lake District over 520 million years. The museum has a strong focus on education, community engagement and is pioneering occupational teaching.


September 2014 saw an exciting and innovative project start at Kendal museum, funded by the Heritage lottery fund. The project surrounds digitising three important collections - two mineral and one herbarium. They are of local and international importance and includes rare minerals from Cumbrian mines. The Lady’s Slipper Orchid, which was once widespread in Cumbria but is now absent from the area, is just one of over 4,000 specimens of flowering plants in the herbarium collection. Digitising these valuable collections will produce high quality preservation images; the objects will be saved in a snapshot of time, accessible to future generations.


In November 2015, a new website will be launched to showcase the images, inform and engage the public with the collections. There will also be a touring exhibition presenting images of the beautiful flora and geology of the Lake District. A programme of events relating to the objects and images, including voluntary activities, will launch soon. Inviting all groups in the community to explore the collections and partake in events will improve the health and wellbeing of local people, and will be great fun, too!


For more information and to follow the progress of the digitisation project at Kendal museum see https://lookingthroughalenshlfproject.wordpress.com/