Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

A mask from the collection - from Mexico. Possibly a Moros y Cristianos mask, and probably not a Guy Fawkes mask like I thought it might be initially. Although V will probably continue to be a popular costume this year.

Have a happy and safe Halloween weekend, however you celebrate.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Box building time

It's busy busy busy here at the nascent Museum of Culture and Environment. Lots going on and lots in the pipeline. But today I am going to build some boxes and house some objects. First on the list: Russian religious icons.

Image on a wooden backing, with a copper overlay. The back is covered with an orange velvet. The velvet and the relatively small size of this icon suggest to me that this might be the sort of icon that one carried along during one's travels. There are five Russian religious icons in the collection; each one has its own specific needs for storage. So off I go!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fun for Friday

I think the usual image of museums in the public eye is as stiff and rigid and dusty. And in many ways, it's true. Museums hold to a code of conduct and very particular professional standards about object care. But we have a sense of humor, just like everyone else. Sometimes, we even watch the fake news on Comedy Central. And sometimes, we accept donations from Stephen Colbert.

Mystery Box Revealed

Remember that box from the other day? Were you curious about what was in it?

Ethiopian Goat Skin Sandal

Four words: Ethiopian Goat Skin Sandals.

Ethiopian goat skin sandals which were once the home of an astounding number of pests, judging by the number of tiny molted bug skins I removed from the nooks and crannies of the sandals with tweezers. To be honest, it was pretty gross. I took a photo of the pile of moltings I removed from just one sandal. And possibly not all of them.

Bug carcasses

Icky, huh? I was glad to find that, despite all of the moltings, I didn't find anything that looked live.

In other news, the US election is coming up pretty soon. Voter registration in Washington State ends in a few days. If you haven't registered yet, go do it! And then vote! This has been a non-partisan message from your friendly civil servant.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Freezers: Not just for freezing food anymore

The museum has a freezer. In fact, we're going to get a bigger and better freezer in our new facility, but this little freezer is doing okay for the time being.
Pest Freezing

Um, okay, so we have a freezer. That's kind of boring. But why does a museum have a freezer? For hoarding microwave dinners and popsicles? No! For Integrated Pest Management!

Some bugs eat the kinds of things we keep in museums: fur, leather, paper, glue, horn, pretty much anything. But spraying collections with chemicals can be bad for the objects, not to mention the staff, so most museums use an IPM approach. IPM tries to be environmentally friendly and use methods other than pesticides to control potential infestations. And one of those methods is freezing (.pdf).

Freezing an object once will kill many pests. Freezing an object twice will kill most larvae/eggs. And that's what I did recently - sent this mystery box through a freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle.
Pest Freezing

The box is wrapped in two layers of plastic sheeting and masking tape. The barriers should prevent condensation from occurring on the object (which is Not Good) - condensation should instead occur on the outside of the barrier. And not all objects should be frozen either. Anything painted, metal, glass, and teeth are among the objects which should not be treated in this manner.

But what's in the box? Well, I'll get to that on Friday - I think this post is getting long enough.

PS: I've spruced up the sidebar with some new widgets. What do you think? If you know of some great widget (or better ones than I've found), let me know!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Fall is here!
Fall is here

The Museum finally has a website! I've been mentioning a website since last fall, and it is here. It may not be the the shiniest, most modern website, but it gets the job done! Check it out!