Photo by Gideon VanRiette
The Kansas University Natural History Museum's panorama exhibit is an epic example of 19th-century taxidermy, with flora and fauna from all the biomes of North America gathered together in one display. The Rocky Mountain habitat (pictured above) flows into temperate forests, which fade into tundra, and eventually become polar bear-filled Arctic landscapes. In the other direction, you can find the prairie and the desert and the Central American jungle. Originally built for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, it's one of my favorite museum exhibits.
It's also in need of some serious conservation work, which explains all the folks in hazmat suits, tromping around the biosphere like a cross between Merry Maids and Ancient Aliens.
All of this is just the first part of a full restoration effort, explained Giles Bruce in The Lawrence Journal-World:
... after decades of exposure to light and humidity, the panorama is in need of a makeover.
"As these mounts begin to fall apart, they create this disconnect between the viewer and the object," said museum spokeswoman Jen Humphrey. "They begin to see the cracked skins and the faded hides instead of seeing the woodland scene or seeing the animal on the mountain or taking in how big an elk is."
The preservation project began with a $50,000 "challenge grant" from museum board members Kent and Janet McKinney that was then matched by other donors in the community. In total, about $100,000 is going to fund the conservation assessment.
The assessment started last year, with an analysis of the toxic chemicals in the exhibit because, in the late 1800s, taxidermists used heavy metals to prevent insect infestation. Researchers found arsenic, mercuric chloride and lead (possibly from the background paintings). Thus, the hazmat suits.
Princeton University psych prof Susan Fiske published an open letter denouncing the practice of using social media to call out statistical errors in psychology research, describing the people who do this as “terrorists” and arguing that this was toxic because of the structure of social science scholarship, having an outsized effect on careers.
Blue writes, “Peter Watts has be stricken with debilitating pain, loss of range of motion and motor control. Watts’ doctors remain baffled despite a battery of tests, and Watts has reached out to his fans to ask for their theories and ideas as to what might be causing his illness.”
Today, I’ve launched a very special Kickstarter with two friends, Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad. A year in the making (and many more years on our minds), the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition is the first vinyl release of the stunning golden phonograph record launched by NASA in 1977 aboard the Voyager spacecraft, one […]
If you own a dog, you’ve most likely heard of BarkBox – the monthly subscription box for dogs. What started as a simple idea to try out the subscription model on pet owners has since developed a cult following of dog lovers. If you haven’t given it a try yet, this one month free deal is the […]
With the iPhone headphone jack having gone by the wayside, we’re excited about the addition of the FRANKLIN Bluetooth Headphones in our store. These headphones are foldable so they’re easy to carry around, but most importantly, they pack impressive sound. Our biggest struggle with Bluetooth headphones is the worry of them dying at the worst moment. This pair lasts an impressive 8-10 […]
Evan Kimbrell, founder of the digital agency Sprintkick, recently released a series of online courses that feature some of the best advice we’ve come across. These courses are well worth your time, and will save you from making many typical mistakes down the line if you ever want to start your own business.With this Business […]