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Re: to have and to hold

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:
>  Furthermore, as the Smithsonian _Triceratops_ recovery team have
>  exhibits mounted in styles typical of the early 20th Century are in
>  danger of needing some major repairs and conservation.  These specimens
>  need help now, while those in jackets are protected.
>  That last point is fairly significant: specimens still in a good field
>  jacket need minimum maintanence, and thus minimum expenses.

I'd like to respectfully disagree on this. I've had the displeasure of
working on jackets that have been stored for years from various locales and
museums. Sometimes the plaster does tend to degrade over time. Also, the
fossils and sediment inside even the best jackets can move and settle.
Usually if something has been around 40+ years it's been moved from place to
place a bit. Now obviously if the fossil was stable and in good matrix, and
was in a good jacket to begin with, these factors are minimized. 

I also don't like the idea that you can't *see* what's going on in that
jacket. You don't know what shape the bones are in or how they are reacting
to the conditions inside the jacket. At least with prepped bones you can
look at them and try to counter problems. With old jackets they can be
turning into fossil popcorn (pyrite problems are ugly) in there and you'd
never know. Maybe we can make see-thru jackets?? :)

Another point, I think that it is helpful if the field crew is still alive
and around when you prep stuff out. They can usually give you advanced
insight on matrix or conditions of jackets before you start to work on them.
I personally find it much easier when I work on matrix I'm familiar with,
and sometimes the information is a bit abstract to write it down in
understandable notes.  

Which brings me to another point, sometimes notes and other informative
things are lost or disorganized over the years. This should not happen, but
it does. Also, markings on the jackets (field numbers, opening indicators)
are sometimes rubbed off. It's *fun* to work on something when you hardly
have any info on it! :)

Alas, I think major museums have little choice but to store some stuff away.
Maybe someone should research care and maintenance of older jackets? A
tested maitenence system that would reduce some of the above problems could
really help curators, I'd think.

-Sherry Michael 

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