Mushrooms at the Whipple Museum!

Bremia lactucae

A microscopic fungus which Dr. Weston made into a glass model.

A reminder that the Whipple Museum Fantastic Fungus day draws near: it will take place on 30th October.
Please remember: this event is free but phone 01223 330906 to book a space!
To whet your appetites for a mushroom-filled day, below is an abstract from Ruth Horry, who will give a brief talk on the scintillating Dillon Weston glass fungi models which make up part of the Whipple Museum’s collection and are the inspiration for this poetry workshop. To view a Weston glass model of Bremia lactucae fungus (shown left in real size on a leaf,) click here.
Talk title:  glass fungi models in the Whipple Museum’s collection
In the Whipple Museum’s Main Gallery, a collection of delicate glass models reveal a beautiful hidden microscopic world of fungi. When fruit goes mouldy or vegetables turn rotten, many of us would turn away in disgust. But for fungus-expert Dr. William Dillon Weston (1899-1953), studying diseases of fruit and vegetable crops was his lifetime’s passion, in both his scientific work and his spare time.
By day, Dr. Dillon Weston carried out research experiments at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Cambridge. His scientific work included investigating how fungal diseases spread through the air, using equipment strapped to aeroplane wings and an experimental transatlantic airship. At night, however, his hobby was creating hand-made glass models of the microscopic fungi that he studied. Almost 100 of these delicate fungi models are held in the Whipple Museum’s collection, all made between 1936 and 1953. They show the structures of disease-causing fungi including the potato blight fungus and moulds found on bread and vegetables. My talk will introduce the models and explore the artistic and scientific inventiveness of their maker, whether he was crafting models in glass or chasing crop diseases through the air.

Ruth Horry is a former member of Whipple Museum staff, currently working on her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.

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