Friday, August 15, 2008

Week Seven

Week seven closes with the completion of around 450 cabinets. Lists identifying which drawers need more attention (they contain uncataloged material, need repair, or better organization) have been completed for each of these drawers as well. These lists will give the collections staff a better idea of where improvements in the collection should be made. The moving company is just a few drawers ahead of us so we have fallen into a comfortable pace while we work together.

This week we finished element descriptions. Each intern was given two card catalog drawers of which we were to transcribe the description of each specimen into a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will eventually be transferred into the electronic database Paleocat. Having completed element descriptions and inventory sheets we are now focusing on geo-referencing and lining as many drawers as possible as we head into our last week.

On Wednesday we were given a tour of the Exhibition department. They are currently in development and construction of a new exhibit that will focus on climate change. We were shown the construction of a model of “a ton of coal” and a polar bear that will be rooting through a trash pile in search of food. While the construction of the trash pile was a wonderful example of the creativity of the Exhibtion crew, its intended impact was felt by everyone – we are neglecting our planet. This was an interesting department to visit, the walls and ceilings display many parts of previous exhibits, including “death masks” of some of the historic mammals currently on display.

Friday morning we were treated to an early morning tour of the 4th floor by FARB Collections Manager Carl Mehling. This was one of the most interesting tours because he shared many of the secrets that went into constructing these exhibits – from the challenges that went into hanging models and a few real specimens from the ceilings, to moving enormous exhibits from room to room, and dealing with the constant damage created by vandalism and the daily parade of Museum Guests. Despite these problems the 4th floor exhibits are beautifully constructed, and the important role that they play in bringing science to the public is immeasurable.