New Exhibition: Pardoes ANIMATE! exhibition opens on the 13th July 2013 at the Dorset County Museum

Animate Exhibition 2013Pardoes ANIMATE! exhibition is an exciting new exhibition opening up the world of film animation to all enthusiasts of this fascinating art form.

Yvonne Hellin-Hobbs, curator of the exhibition said, “We hope the ANIMATE! exhibition will illustrate and illuminate the background of the animation art form for a whole new generation of fans. It will also awaken memories in an older generation by bringing some all- time favourite characters to life again at Dorset County Museum.”

ANIMATE! will include over 120 objects on loan from Exeter University, the British Film Institute Archive, The Ray Harryhausen Foundation, David Hand Productions and independent local animators.

One of the Hydra heads from the 1963 film 'Jason and the Argonauts' - The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation © 2013

One of the Hydra heads from the 1963 film ‘Jason and the Argonauts’  © The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

The artefacts range from Victorian Flick books, zoetropes, shadow theatres, puppets and early animation machines to posters, catalogues and publicity material, original Disney and Hungarian film cells, concept sketches, sheet music and merchandising toys.
Visitors can follow the development of animation through time and see how the technology has developed to the present day, highlighting the work of ground-breaking animators along the way. There will also be a computerised animation package available within the exhibition space for youngsters to make their own, simple animated films.

A screening area will show examples of animated films from the simplicity of early work to the complex 3D animation that we are now so familiar with. It will illustrate how animation has and can be used in commercial

Shaun the Sheep © Aardman Studios

Shaun the Sheep © Aardman Studios

and political forms, such as advertising and propaganda, charting the development of animation during war and peacetime, prosperity and depression. Find out how technology itself has had an influence, with the coming of Television, 3D and games.

A series of events and talks at the museum will complement the exhibition – full details are available on the Museum website, facebook or on the ANIMATE! flyer available from the Museum or local TICs. Look out for a series of workshops to show just how it’s done from modelling a ‘Shaun the Sheep’ to creating 2D animated films.  The exhibition opens at Dorset County Museum on Saturday 13th July and runs until 19th October.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Dorset County Museum is grateful to the main sponsor, Pardoes Solicitors and to the other generous supporters who have enabled this exhibition to take place:

  • The Mansel-Pleydell & Cecil Trust
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Dorchester Camera Club Photographic Exhibition at the Dorset County Museum

The Cobb by Richard Anders © 2013

The Cobb by Richard Anders © 2013

The highly popular Dorchester Camera Club annual exhibition opens on Saturday 15th June 2013 at Dorset County Museum. This year, in addition to the many photographs on display, there will also be projected images enabling members who do not produce prints to be represented.

Dorchester Camera Club currently has over 100 members, young and old, with a wide range of interests and experience.  The club meets regularly on Monday evenings in the Colliton Club in Dorchester.  Meetings may include visiting speakers, members showing their own work and demonstrations of practical applications.  There are also regular competitions and social events.

Anyone interested in joining the club should check the website on www.dorchestercameraclub.co.uk

The exhibition runs until Saturday 29th June, entry is FREE and many of the pieces are for sale.  Don’t forget to visit the Museum’s popular café for a drink and a slice of homemade cake while you are there.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Monster fossils from Dorset and Wiltshire declared as new species

Weymouth  Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

Weymouth Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

An enormous skull from a giant marine reptile recovered from the Dorset coast near Weymouth, has been declared as a species new to science and named in honour of its finder Kevan Sheehan. The new name, Pliosaurus kevani, is published in the on-line journal PLOS ONE this week.

Mr Sheehan said; ‘This is a great day for Kevans around the world!’

Pliosaurus was a giant oceanic predator with a skull 2 metres long and body perhaps 12 metres in length. It was in fact the most powerful, scariest marine monster of all time, capable of biting the biggest great white shark alive today, clean in half (although they never existed at the same time). Despite their giant size, the oldest Pliosaurus species had many teeth, suggesting a diet of fish but over time they developed fewer, stronger teeth suggesting they evolved to hunt large prey such as big fish and other marine reptiles; plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. Indeed, there are spectacular examples of bones, particularly limbs with massive bite marks; just like many of today’s predators, pliosaurs probably disabled their prey and allowed them to weaken through blood loss before going in for the kill.

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

The Dorset specimen, known as the and ‘the World’s Biggest Bite’, is one of the most complete and best preserved skulls ever found and as a result it has provided new insights into our understanding of how these enormous animals evolved. Giant pliosaurs were first found in the UK in the early 1800s, but most fossils were fragmentary, so their species diversity has been uncertain. The scientific paper has taken a new look at both the Dorset specimen and two other skulls discovered near Westbury over the last 30 years (the Westbury pliosaurs are on display at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery). That study has led to a revision of the group and the naming of both those specimens as new species as well; Pliosaurus carpenteri after the collector, Simon Carpenter and Pliosaurus westburyensis.

One of the most significant conclusions from the paper is that the genus Pliosaurus appears to have developed a highly effective body plan that remained little changed for millions of years in the Late Jurassic sea. During that time just a handful of species evolved and this is unlike most top predators in the fossil record which reach dominance but were then typically swiftly replaced by different forms. The research has been undertaken by a team of vertebrate palaeontologists from Oxford, Bristol and Cambridge universities and with Leicester, Nottingham and the Sedgwick (Cambridge) museums together with independent researchers.

Mark Evans, Curator of Natural Sciences at Leicester Museum said:

“We have so few diagnostic specimens and the extraordinary thing is that whenever a specimen is diagnostic, it often turns out to be something new. We’ve effectively doubled the number of British Pliosaurus species in the paper.”

PliosaurPliosaurus dominated the seas around 150 million years ago in the Late Jurassic and similar forms appeared again in the Cretaceous. They have been found in northern Norway on the island of Svalbard (the famous Predator X of television fame), Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Australia. Despite the huge size of pliosaurs, identifiable specimens are rare in the fossil record; there is about 1 million years between the Weymouth Bay and Westbury specimens, more than 100,000 generations, yet they are only known from three described specimens. That is because most animals do not become fossilised while, as a top predator, there are far fewer individuals than their prey source. This is the nature of the science; trying to untangle the history of life from just a handful of specimens, but that also makes it exciting as new finds, providing new insights, will always come to light so long as collectors are out there rescuing the fossils when they become exposed.

Sir David Attenborough with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Sir David Attenborough with the Pliosaur skull – 8th July 2011 © DCM

Further studies are ongoing with Pliosaurus kevani. All the bones have been through an industrial CT scanner at the University of Southampton, Faculty of Engineering (the muVIS X-ray Imaging Centre) and the data is being analysed by students from Bristol University where they are particularly focused on the biomechanics of the skull, including the biting force of the jaws. Analysis of the scans has also resolved detailed internal structures such as blood and sensory canals and this work should be published in the near future.

The skull of Pliosaurus kevani is on permanent display at the Dorset County Museum thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ program with match funding from Dorset and Devon County Councils.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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Opening of new Photographic Archive at Dorset County Museum

Came House by Charles Cornish Browne © DCM

Came House by Charles Cornish Browne © DCM

A generous legacy has enabled Dorset County Museum to rebuild its Photographic Archive and to ensure its long-term future as a unique resource for Dorset. The sum of £100,000 was donated in 2011 by William Butcher, a former farm hand at Shipton Gorge Farm.

During the Second World War, Bill ran the farm – a reserved occupation – and patrolled Chesil Beach as part of his Home Guard duties, often up all night then going straight out at 5.00am to milk the cows by hand!  He and his wife Sylvia had a life-long interest in archaeology stemming from the discovery of prehistoric artefacts on the farm he worked.  They were both avid collectors and had amazing collections of boxes, tins, and old cider bottles.

Looking down High East Street with all the decorations for the visit of the Prince of Wales to the bath and West Show in 1887. © DCM

Looking down High East Street with all the decorations for the visit of the Prince of Wales to the bath and West Show in 1887. © DCM

Bill Butcher’s £100,000 legacy was used to completely rebuild the photographic archive, previously at risk from rain and flood damage, providing improved user facilities and a state-of-the-art storage capacity so that the collection can be both safeguarded and enlarged.  Dorset County Museum has almost 50,000 photographic prints, slides and negatives dating back to the mid-19th Century – images showing what life was like in Dorset parishes in times gone by, with an extensive biographic collection telling the story of Dorset people.

The new Dorset Photographic Archive is being officially opened on 14th June alongside the brand new “Bill Butcher Common Room” for use by volunteers and staff. For access to the Photographic Collection, contact Valerie Dicker on 01305 262735.

Dorset County Museum has many other projects for which donations would be most welcome.  If you are considering making or changing a will, giving to charity is easy and straightforward, and can pass on some excellent tax advantages as all legacies left to charities are free of inheritance tax.

By including Dorset County Museum in your will, you are helping to preserve its many collections and protect them for future generations. No matter how small your gift, your contribution will make a difference.  You may leave a donation to be used for general purposes, or, like Bill, you can specify a particular purpose for your legacy.