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Variety of prizes offered in the essay contest organized by the Friends of the Falconer Museum celebrating the life of Hugh Falconer

The Falconer Museum at the top of Tolbooth Street was closed during cost cuts by the Moray Council in 2019.

CASH prizes are up for grabs in a contest to celebrate the life of Forres’ most famous son.

The Friends of the Falconer Museum have organized The Falconer 150 Essay competition – and are using an £1,850 prize from the Berry Burn Community Fund to produce and publish an anthology of essays on the life and work of Hugh Falconer.

Vice President John Barrett confirmed that the group was delighted with the support.

He said: ‘It gives a positive affirmation of the importance of a seminal figure in Victorian science and a native of Forres. The grant also confirms the value of the Falconer Museum to Moray and is a vote of confidence in our support and promotion work.

He added: “The grant will enable engagement in a positive cultural project, in line with the purpose of the Friend as an educational complement to the museum.”

Inspired by the multifaceted life and work of botanist, geologist and paleontologist Hugh Falconer (1808-1865), the competition celebrates 150 years since the museum was opened to the public.

Exhibitions upstairs at the Falconer Museum, summer 2019.
Exhibitions upstairs at the Falconer Museum, summer 2019.

Christiane Friauf, member of the Friends committee, said: “We invite authors of all ages and backgrounds to send in a short essay relating to the life of Hugh Falconer or to the museum.

“We are open to any personal position on the subject.

“Authors might write about the hard work of a naturalist or ambiguous memories of museum visits or even imagine a conversation Falconer might have had with a field research assistant.

“Scientific knowledge is not necessary – we hope to fuel the imagination. For example, what was it like to find a fossil bone and realize that it could have belonged to a mammoth? Or what he in the head of the Tortiphant, the elephant riding a world turtle from Indian cosmology, inspired by a cartoon by Hugh Falconer and sculpted in 2018?

Dr Hughes Falconer.
Dr Hughes Falconer.

Falconer was good at deciphering the stones and bones he found in the hills of India and across Europe. His busy life and travels prevented him from writing a major work, so his name rarely appears with other famous scientists of the Darwin era.

However, his colleagues held him in high regard, naming plants and animals after him, including Rhododendron falconeri and a screw-horned goat, Capra falconeri, now listed on the Red List of Threatened Species.

Ms Friauf said: “Above all, an architectural and cultural gem is dedicated to Hugh: the Falconer Museum which stands at the heart of the Royal Burgh. The anthology will celebrate him, as well as the city that spawned him and the museum he founded.

The winning author will receive £150, be invited to read the essay at a public event to mark Scottish Book Week in November, and publish the essay on the museum’s website (http://falconermuseum.co.uk/) and in the anthology.

The best essay submitted by someone under 17 will receive a £35 book token and highly recommended essays will each receive £50, so if you are under 17 please mention the age of the author.

All winning works will also be published on the museum’s website and may be included in the anthology.

Essays may be written in any prose form, must not exceed 3000 words, must not have been previously published, and must be submitted online via [email protected]

The deadline is September 15 at 3 p.m.

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