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Friday 17 March 2017

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Treasures of the deep

The Natural History Museum's new 'Treasures' Gallery will feature 'exquisite crafted glass Blaschka models of marine animals, including jellyfish and octopus.

A glass model of an octopus (L) and a squid (R) created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the late nineteenth century and held at the Natural History Museum, London
 
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A glass model of an octopus (L) and a squid (R) created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the late nineteenth century and held at the Natural History Museum, London Photo: NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
A glass model of an octopus (L) and a squid (R) created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the late nineteenth century and held at the Natural History Museum, London
 
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A glass model of a tremoctopus velifer octopus (L) and a sepia elegans squid (R) created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the late nineteenth century and held at the Natural History Museum, London Photo: NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Octopus
 
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The view from beneath an octopus Photo: NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

The gallery will host 22 of what the museum says are the “most extraordinary specimens” that it has ever displayed, including the marine creatures.

The museum commissioned 182 Blaschka models, named after the father and son who created them, between 1866 and 1889.

They are extremely delicate crafted glass impressions of marine invertebrates that show off the tiniest features of the sea animals.

The new gallery opens on November 30, and three of the models will be on display for six months at a time, including the Portugese man-of-war jellyfish and octopus.

A Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish from the collection

As the Gallery is permanent, the 182 models will be rotated, many of which have never been seen before.

The Blaschka models in the Museum’s collection were created by the Blaschka family between 1876 and 1889 in a small room at home with basic equipment. With no apprentices, the secret of their techniques died with them.

Even with more refined modern tools, glass artists today have been unable to replicate the Blaschkas’ work.

Dr Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said: “The Treasures gallery will showcase the most extraordinary specimens. Visitors can discover everything the museum represents in a short space of time.”

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