Science at the Seaside with Ilfracombe Museum

Ilfracombe Museum founder Mervyn Palmer was a collector in the best tradition of Victorian naturalists. Ilfracombe Museum founder Mervyn Palmer was a collector in the best tradition of Victorian naturalists.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
1:41 PM

Museum launches a year long project of events and activities to celebrate the Victorian naturalist and rock pool rambler.

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Work by Victorian naturalist and illustrator Philip Gosse.Work by Victorian naturalist and illustrator Philip Gosse.

THE Victorian passion for rock pool rambling and the magic of nature is being celebrated with a new project at Ilfracombe Museum for 2014.

Science at the Seaside will see a packed programme of activities and events throughout the year as the museum works with the universities of Exeter and Bath Spa to reveal the 19th century craze for marine natural history.

Based on the theme of Victorian science, collecting and nature writing, the project will host events for all ages, including sea shore rambles and art work, microscope exploration, a writing competition, magic lantern shows and evening lectures.

It is hoped the many events will help attract a new audience to the museum, and with the knowledge of specialists from the universities to create a new museum display.

Ilfracombe Museum founder Mervyn Palmer was a collector in the best tradition of Victorian naturalists.Ilfracombe Museum founder Mervyn Palmer was a collector in the best tradition of Victorian naturalists.

It has been made possible thanks to funding from the European Fisheries Fund, through North Devon Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG).

The museum and its partners hope to raise awareness of the importance of work in North Devon by 19th century scientists such as Philip Gosse and writers such as George Eliot, who both studied the natural world in Ilfracombe.

Along with authors such as Charles Kingsley, their work helped to spark off a nationwide craze for collecting ferns, seaweed, shells and more - the museum itself was founded by a collector of natural history, Mervyn Palmer.

It all begins on Tuesday, January 21 with a talk by Jim Munroe of Coastwise on Victorian Naturalists on the North Devon Coast, followed by five more monthly talks. The talks are free but call the museum to book a place.

The first of a series of fun activities for families and children begins at half term from February 21. The new museum display will be launched in March alongside Science Week.

There will also be a new interactive webpage where visitors can create their own online ‘cabinet of curiosities’. During Victorian week in June there will be adult workshops on Victorian popular science and handicrafts.

The final event will be on September 6 at the Landmark Theatre as part of Sea Ilfracombe.

Find out more by calling the museum on 01271 863541 or visit the Science at the Seaside Facebook page.

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