We have been very lucky to have been involved in the amazing Olympic and Paralympic games held in London this year. Working with Cambridgeshire Competes, a local partnership of museums and sports centers, the Sedgwick put on a small display with a unique angle on the games, using our mineralogical collection to focus on some of the materials used in the sports.
On display we had the metal ores use to manufacture iron, titanium and aluminium, and examples of hydrocarbons used to create plastics and carbon fibre. We displayed the metals used to make the medals, including pieces of gold and silver, and we revealed some surprising facts about their composition. Also on display were some of the pieces of equipment used in the games, such as a discus, shot put, and tennis racquet. We touched on how the Museum’s fossil collections link with the town of Wenlock in Shropshire, birthplace of the modern Olympic Games, with examples of fossils from the Silurian Wenlock Limestone and a new piece of artwork by Palaeoartist Bob Nicholls. Lastly, banners and photographs of Cambridgeshire Olympic and Paralympic athletes supplied by Cambridgeshire Competes were placed around the museum.
To complement the display we ran a successful hands-on Saturday family event in August. The event acted as an introduction to minerals, with visitors learning about different minerals in everyday life, and tied into the Olympic theme with visitors making designing their own medals using the coloured streaks from various minerals, and posed doing various sports whilst being silhouetted in gold or silver.
We were also delighted to have had the special honour of hosting England’s Paralympic flame on its journey to Stoke Mandeville to be united with flames from in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, before the combined flame was taken to London for the start of the Paralympic Games. Contained in a miner’s lantern, it was brought to the Sedgwick by former paralympic record breaking cyclist Dan Gordon. Visitors were invited to have their photo taken with the lantern, and also with an Olympic torch, in the Museum’s building stones gallery, which is usually closed to the public. The building stones come from over 60 countries taking place in the Olympics, which we highlighted with their flags.