Prehistoric bird exhibit takes flight at Aberystwyth

The Belin specimen of the Archaeopteryx discovered in 1876. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany.

The Belin specimen of the Archaeopteryx discovered in 1876. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany.

06 January 2017

Aberystwyth University is to host a ‘Jurassic Heritage’ exhibition at the iconic Old College.

The centrepiece of the exhibition will be the Archaeopteryx with its 1m wing span, claws and sharp teeth.

Dating from the late Jurassic period, around 150 million years ago, it is believed to be the link between prehistoric dinosaurs and the modern bird.

On loan from National Museum Wales, complemented by fossils from the University’s own collections and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the exhibition opens on 14 February and runs until 21 April 2017 and includes half-term and the Easter holidays.

The University is also working closely with Ceredigion Museum to provide onsite 'touch the heritage' sessions for families.

Eva De Visscher, bid-writer at the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Aberystwyth University, said: “We are delighted to be hosting such a fascinating exhibition at the Old College. Thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, people of all ages will be able to learn about natural heritage through three unique, complementary collections dating back to the Jurassic era, and these are to be seen together for the first time.”

Louise Jagger, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, said “Touring exhibitions like this are an important feature of the University’s ambitious plans to breathe new life into the Old College and provide a fantastic facility for showcasing learning, research and enterprise opportunities that will inspire users and visitors and boost the economy.”

David Anderson, Director of National Museum Wales, said: “We have worked with Aberystwyth University on a number of research projects and events in the past but this is our first collaborative exhibition, of which we are very proud.”

In addition the University will integrate four mountable casts of the feathered dinosaur specimens, and several casts of other prehistoric creatures, marine wildlife, and vegetation donated by the pioneering botanist Agnes Arber.

Dr Ian Scott and Professor emeritus Richard Hinchliffe from IBERS, and Dr Bill Perkins from the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, are providing additional content for the exhibition.

Richard Bellamy, Head of HLF in Wales added: “Thanks to funding from National Lottery players, this project has created a new opportunity for established organisations to work together for the benefit of local people and tourists.  We know that there is a lot of interest in Jurassic heritage and this funding means that more people will get to see and find out about important collections that wouldn’t otherwise be available in Aberystwyth.  HLF is delighted to give its support”.

The exhibition has been made possible by a grant of nearly £9,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is being matched with a generous gift of £5,000 from Dr Terry Adams, geologist and alumnus of the University, and £3,700 from the Physics Department Outreach Fund.