Movies and Minerals

Johan C Varekamp, Minerals Curator of the Joe Webb Peoples Natural History Museum, Wesleyan University (submitted by E. Thomas)  The association between movies and minerals is not an intuitively straightforward concept, although many movies deal one way or another with diamonds (stolen or not), but about that another time. I was struck by two recent … Read more

Specimen of the Month, Earth Day 2024: Piping Plover

The Joe Webb Peoples Museum celebrated Earth Day by presenting a new Specimen-Of-The-Month, a piping plover (Charadrius melodus) from the George Brown Goode Biological Collections. Piping Plovers are considered Endangered in the Great Lakes region and Threatened in the remainder of its U.S. breeding range, including Connecticut.

Minerals of Connecticut

Blog by Johan C Varekamp, Smith Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History, and Harold T Stearns Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Emeritus The Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History has a significant number of minerals from the pegmatite quarries from the direct surroundings of Middletown. … Read more

Specimen Of The Month: Nine-banded Armadillo

When we first placed Shelley, the Glyptodon, in front of the Science Library in the lobby of Exley in February 2018, we planned to add the skeleton and carapace of her extant (alive today) cousin, a nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus Linnaeus 1758). We finally succeeded: Shelley now has the company of her much smaller relative. … Read more

Virtual Digitisation: Specify7 Database

If there is a hashtag that defines museum practices of the 21st century, it’d better be #digitization.   With the leaps and bounds computing power has taken in the past decade, researchers have been getting on the ramp of creating large online biodiversity databases for collection objects. An example is the Integrated Digital Biocollections (iDigBio) … Read more

Figuring Out Fritillaries

As I embarked on my butterfly project earlier this month, one of my fellow students came to me with a predicament. He sent me an email with pictures of two of our butterfly specimens that were marked as different species, but to both of our untrained eyes, looked exactly the same. He was hoping I … Read more

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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Corals Are Paleontological Clocks

The Joe Webb Peoples collections here at Wesleyan contain an incredible amount and variety of corals, ranging in age through the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras to the late 1800s. These corals can tell us many things about Earth’s environments in the past, from just before the industrial age back to the far distant past. … Read more