330 million years old – our oldest clients yet!

It isn’t often that there is an opportunity to engage with something as old as 330 million years but that’s just what we have been doing recently with Scarborough Museums Trust and their new exhibition – Ancient Seas.

A 50 Kg ammonite!
The sculptural 50 Kg ammonite!

Having previously worked on other exhibition displays for the Trust we were approached by them with a requirement to provide display stands for a range of large and small fossils ranging in age from 330 million year crinoids to 65 million year old ammonites. The ammonites ware spectacular and include some that weigh in at 32 Kg and 50 Kg.

The largest ammonite had previously been displayed in a heavy duty forged steel clamp that wrapped around the fossil and was a considerable distraction from the elegance of the sculptural shape.

Our brief was to design and construct free-standing and wall mounted stands for the heaviest items without obscuring their shape and also to enable the stands to display related graphics.  We were also asked to provide dedicated clear Perspex stands for a range of other artefacts including fish, starfish, a crocodile skull and an ancient turtle shell.

We surveyed all the fossils and created templates around which we could build the dedicated supports.  To do this the templates were scanned and brought into SolidWorks where we could replicate the fossil profiles and develop support profiles to follow the fossil contours.

A freestanding ammonite support

The larger stands were constructed from birch plywood and were designed to allow the fossils to be embedded in the top panel for stability and security. The stands also had flat side panels for displaying graphics.   Finally the fossils were completely restrained by 10mm thick Perspex hold-downs which clamped the fossils in place without obscuring their appearance.

The smaller fossils were supported on clear Perspex stands that were either bonded together from specially shaped profiles or clipped together using interlocking panels.

Custom Perspex stands

Which all goes to show that innovative design can be applied as well to incredibly ancient applications as well as modern ones…