Conservation of The Giant Deer Skeleton

Generations of visitors to the Manx Museum have enjoyed the Giant Deer Skeleton currently displayed in the Geology Gallery. In fact the skeleton is a significant and very complete example that has not been conserved since it was put on display over one hundred years ago.

In 2015, as part of refurbishment work encompassing the deer display, the skeleton was removed for conservation by Christopher Weeks, MNH Conservator, and Lucie Graham, Natural History Conservator from Lancashire Conservation Studios. In the workshop the skeleton was recorded and was cleaned using a laser. We discovered the meticulous and careful work of Caleb Barlow of the Natural History Museum in London who, in the summer of 1897, visited the Isle of Man at the invitation of P.M.C. Kermode to articulate the skeleton. Many of Mr Barlow’s repairs had since failed and had to be replaced. Samples of tooth and bone were taken for dating (carbon 14 analysis) and DNA testing. With these data we may be able to tie the Manx deer to his cousins in Ireland, Scandinavia and Russia. In April 2016, the deer skeleton was installed as the centre piece of our new Geology Gallery at the Manx Museum.

Our conservators work to preserve and study the Isle of Man’s national collections for the benefit of present and future generations. The collections include objects, documents and archives.

The collections include objects of all shapes and sizes, books and manuscript archives, from prehistoric periods to the present time. They also give advice on the conservation of sites and monuments in the care of MNH, and to members of the public caring for treasures and heirlooms. The priority is to carry out specific conservation work for the collections in our care and the conservators can only provide this service for items in private collections in special circumstances.

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