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Museology



Just a few notes...

I want to be clear on exhibiting real material - I am in favor of having lots 
and lots of it on display so the public can see it from a close-up position. 
However, real material that is mounted as part of skeletons is "living" on 
borrowed time. Humidity shifts and other factors are just killing the bones so, 
scientifically, it is not justifiable any more to mount and damage the 
material, especialy since cast skeletons are so much more flexible and 
changeable and movable. We just have to find the happy medium with getting real 
stuff out for looking and having material for study. Of course, you can exhibit 
real badly and stick wall mounts 20 feet in the air so no  body can get close 
to do anything with them - as someone decided to do in our hall in the early 
80's. Reality just won't allow full real skeletal mounts anymore. Gotta take 
care of the specimens.

Having artistic recreations of dinosaurs next to the mounted skeletons gives 
the best of all worlds, the original material and the scientific interpretation 
done by the very talented artists such as Walters, Brian etc. We need to 
combine these talents more and more and I hope to do lots of this with 
Triceratops here, adding the virtual stuff into the mix to really make it 
powerful. I have made the case to my fellow VP'ers that our artist corpse is a 
real treasure and, with many, it's like talking to the choir. Others are much 
less enthusiastic but many of our academic scientists lose interest as the 
spotlight shifts away from their personal work.

On a final note, I wanted to say just how great it is to have Sally Shelton 
here. She came in under my radar and was here for a couple months before I 
started to notice her new address on her posts. Since then, we have lots of 
projects that are starting to develop and she is a great asset here, especially 
with her solid knowledge on the preservation of natural history collections.

Nuff...

Ralph Chapman, NMNH