THE creatures of the sea will be brought to life in a new exhibition at the Bolton Museum, Art Gallery and Aquarium.

Glass replicas of sea creatures, designed and made by 19th century German glassworker Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf, will decorate the museum in Le Mans Crescent.

From their tiny Dresden workshop, the Blaschkas made thousands of glass models of squids, sea-slugs, cuttlefish, sea squirts, jellyfish, dead men's fingers and other sea creatures for natural history museums all over the world.

Detailed and startlingly realistic, the Blaschkas' work is a fusion of design, craftsmanship and industrial production from a time when the public was fascinated by the recently discovered science of marine exploration. Using rudimentary equipment, the Blaschkas fused or glued clear and coloured glass.

Tentacles and gills were attached on fine copper wires and the resulting models were displayed in museums and studied as scientific specimens.

By the late 1880s, replicas of more than 700 sea creatures were listed in the Blaschkas' catalogue.

Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka: The Glass Aquarium comes from the Design Museum in London and will run in Bolton until May 7.

Afterwards, visitors can go downstairs to view the real thing at Bolton Aquarium.