Museum Curation in the Time of Coronavirus

This year has obviously been like no other any of us have ever experienced. COVID-19 has upended our regular way of living, and it seems that no aspect of our lives has been left untouched. Museums are no different. Beginning in March, museums around the world started closing their doors for an unprecedented amount of time. Many still have yet to open back up again, and there is fear that their closure might be permanent. Despite the somber circumstances, museum employees have continued their work behind the scenes, and have found unique ways to adapt to the current situation. From virtual tours to calming hashtags on Twitter to Tiktok (??), museums have continued to connect with the public. But the actual work that goes into creating a museum, the curation, has also taken a hit. With so many people working from home, the normal hands-on with the artifacts, artwork, and specimens has had to undergo dramatic change, and the collaboration between employees has taken a new form. 

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Our Wesleyan natural history collections include many taxidermy specimens of birds (‘stuffed birds’), some of which can be admired in display cases along the hall ways of Shanklin, 2nd floor. Other were stored haphazardly in the storage room on the 3d floor of Exley, on top of display cases in the Joe Webb Peoples Museum … Read moreEYEBALLS of OWL

Specimen of the Month October 2019: Mosasaur

MARINE LIZARD: MOSASAUR Or the Meuse Lizard Ward Cast: Original in Natural History Museum Paris Mosasaurus hoffmanni Mantell 1829 Maastricht, Netherlands.  Late Cretaceous ~66 million years ago     This Mosasaur cast  is a replica of the first described specimen of a Mosasaur, with the original on exhibit in the Natural History Museum in Paris. … Read moreSpecimen of the Month October 2019: Mosasaur

Welcome to the Joe Webb Peoples Museum in academic year 2019-2020

In that past, too many students and faculty have been unaware of the existence of the amazing Wesleyan Natural History Collections (including those in the Joe Webb Peoples museum) on the 4th Floor of Exley. This year, for the first time, we try to do something about this, and are aiming to make incoming students … Read moreWelcome to the Joe Webb Peoples Museum in academic year 2019-2020

Changing places: perspective on the role of collections

Crinoid specimen in the Joe Webb Peoples Museum (donated by Henry I Nettleton). Over the last few weeks, a second step in the dramatic reorganization of Wesleyan’s natural history collections has been undertaken. The old cabinets housing an extensive array of minerals, fossils and archaeological and ethnological specimens were falling into disrepair. With the green … Read moreChanging places: perspective on the role of collections

Visualizing times before: how what we know shapes the stories we tell

Wesleyan’s natural history collections, which have begun to emerge into public and accessible spaces on campus in the last few years, are extensive, and include fossils, minerals, stuffed animals, bones, and animals in bottles with alcohol. We have only just scratched the surface of these collections, with the discovery and restoration projects of the Glyptodon … Read moreVisualizing times before: how what we know shapes the stories we tell

Fragile Beginnings: Bird Egg Collection

Egg-collecting was a mania in Victorian England, and collectors such as Lord Rothschild collected 11,750 egg-sets in his curiosity collection. Naturally, collectors in America followed suit, and egg shells became a staple in museum cabinets. The former Wesleyan Museum in Judd Hall housed a large bird egg collection, most of which were deaccessioned and sent … Read moreFragile Beginnings: Bird Egg Collection

Blue Planet: Diversity Beneath the Waves

Take a breath. Now take another: you could say that the oxygen in one of those two breaths was produced by green plants on land, the oxygen in the other by floating phytoplankton in the oceans. Life in the oceans has sustained human civilization and development for millennia, from providing food and nourishment, material for handicraft … Read moreBlue Planet: Diversity Beneath the Waves