Natural world through a microscope

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Ashburton Art Gallery collections and exhibitions assistant Hannah Crichton prepares to look under the microscope.

Ashburton Art Gallery collections and exhibitions assistant Hannah Crichton prepares to look under the microscope.

Visitors to the Ashburton Art Gallery have been immersing themselves in the natural world and looking at it from a microscopic perspective.

The exhibition, called Microscopic Worlds: On The Importance of Small, brings together 3D images of local water samples, plants, insects, spiders as well as everyday items taken with scanning electron microscopes at the University of Canterbury.

The highly magnified images are presented as printed media and on large-screen monitors and used to introduce and educate visitors to the microscopic world.

Printed images include a spider’s head magnified 55 and 80 times, a “hairy” spider’s foot magnified 1300 times and a web magnified 3330 times.

There is also an insight into flies, mosquitoes, sand-flies, butterflies and fleas.

For an entry charge of $2, visitors to the exhibition are given 3D glasses and a catalogue to help them understand the images.

Historic microscopes from the Cotter Medical History Museum are also displayed, highlighting how microscopes have developed through the years.

accompanied by two experienced science educators, Kerry Swanson and Neville Petrie, from Interactive Exhibition Services, who alternate and share their science knowledge.

Mr Petrie said microscopes helped people see much more than the naked eye.

The exhibition was aimed at all ages and his explanations were tailored to the age group.

He said daily samples of pond water from the nearby Ashburton Domain were taken and analysed by visitors under the microscope.

Worms, larvae, spider mites and other life had been spotted and matched with identification sheets that were on hand.

He said visitors had been excited by what they had seen in the exhibition and had commented on how it had opened up their eyes to the natural world.

Microscopic Worlds runs until October 23.

-By Mick Jensen