Remarkable crystal sea creatures go on show at reopened Norwich Castle Museum

Spider octopus. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service

Spider octopus. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service

A display of remarkable glass sea creatures created by a father and son team are among the new exhibits visitors returning to the recently reopened Norwich Castle Museum can enjoy.

Tuberculate octopus. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service

Tuberculate octopus. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service

The crystal creatures of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka lie at the crossroads of art and science and the castle has one of the most important collections of their work in the United Kingdom.

Highlights of the exquisite models on display include colourful sea anemones, corals, jellyfish-like marine hydrozoans, starfish, sea cucumbers and sea slugs, octopuses and squid.

The glass models were created by the German duo during the 19th and 20th centuries, with museums and universities across the world holding examples of their delicate creations.

It is thought the models were created by holding glass over a single flame, but the Blasckas kept their techniques a deeply guarded secret.

Conservation work on the musky octopus. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service

Conservation work on the musky octopus. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service


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Norwich Castle has 20 individual Blaschka models and it is thought the new permanent display of them, at the temporary entrance which leads to the museum’s natural history galleries is the first time all of them have gone on show at the same time.

Due to the coronavirus panedemic, the display was almost entirely remotely curated, with Dr David Waterhouse, senior curator of natural history, working on it from home with close work by conservator Jonathan Clarke and lead designer Lynne Avery-Johnson.

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Dr Waterhouse said: “Jonathan has been working hard behind-the-scenes on this (as well as many other projects) during the pandemic.

“His sympathetic conservation work on these century-old glass models is testament to his high levels of skill and patience.

Blaschka models on display. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service

Blaschka models on display. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service

“The simple, almost Art Deco style of the case, by Lynne and her colleagues in the design and technical department allows the models to shine, and even gives a sense of the deep sea where the real animals live.”

The Castle is also hosting a display of works by Alfred Cohen, including Evening Sky – Wells, until Sunday, March 14, along with a colourful display featuring photographs of nests created by local children.

Norwich Castle Museum reopened on Friday, October 16, Tickets must be booked in advance at norfolk-museums.arttickets.org.uk.

Evening Sky – Wells by Alfred Cohen. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service

Evening Sky – Wells by Alfred Cohen. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service

Norwich Castle Museum has reopened. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Norwich Castle Museum has reopened. Picture: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

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