During our recent Earth Sciences Weekend, I helped staff a touch table with unusual rocks.
The Acasta Gneiss - piece of the oldest rock in the Earth’s crust found in N.W.T., Canada (approx 4.2 billlion years old)
Acasta Gneiss – oldest crustal rock photo source : ROM
Springwater Pallasite - portion of the mantle of an asteroid – equivalent to what our planet looks like 3,000km down
Springwater pallasite meteorite photo source : ROM
Chondrite Meteorite - rock formed at the beginning of the Solar System, before planets had formed, approx 4.5 billion years ago – not the actual one we were showing but filled with small spheres (chondules*) like this one has.
* A peculiar rounded granule of some mineral, usually enstatite or chrysolite, found imbedded more or less abundantly in the mass of many meteoric stones, which are hence called chondrites.- Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary
chondrite meteorite photo source : D. Ball, ASU
In addition, we had a 2 billion year old sedimentary rock showing fossilized waves – like those shown in this photo.
fossilized waves in sedimentary rock photo source : rockcliffbythesea.blogspot.com
And to attract visitors to the table, an amethyst geode….for the bling factor.
- amethyst geode photo source : bigquartz.com
We all learn different codes of conduct for different types of spaces. One does not act the same as a spectator at a hockey game as when browsing for books in a library. As we preserve and protect valuable collections, museums have (written or unwritten) rules regarding visitor behaviour that sometimes need to be communicated and enforced. But how? And by whom?
Here are a few areas of concern.
Ming tomb stone guardian camel photo source : Lorie Pierce
- Touching and climbing – we have two of these beautiful stone carved camels sitting nose to nose. Can you see the ‘No Touching’ sign? Parents routinely place their children on these objects (from the mid-1600′s) for photos. I have seen two teenagers run the length of the gallery and vault over one.
- Gum chewing – The removal of gum from surfaces, such as artifacts, can cause a great deal of damage. Therefore, gum chewing is forbidden in the galleries. Last week, I saw a teacher of a visiting class actually blow a bubble and smack her gum loudly in her mouth. I politely told her our policy and the reason for it, making sure she removed the gum.
- Food in the galleries – Parents often pull out a bag of snacks. We have special accessible area for families to eat food they have brought themselves. It has vending machines for drinks and is close to washrooms and a drinking fountain. There is a full cafeteria also on the premises. Visitors can also leave to eat elsewhere and re- enter with their ticket stubs.
- Loud voices and running – Museums are exciting places and kids want to share their new discoveries with their friends. This can add up to a lot of pandemonium, especially in our Age of Dinosaurs Gallery. This behaviour does not concern me that much as long as the excitement is directed at the collections, rather than be an impromptu game of tag (or hide-and-seek behind the giant clam). Usually there are security guards in all the major galleries who monitor the traffic. However, due to budget constraints, we do not have as good floor coverage any more. Increasingly we have toddler and senior visitors who are less mobile so I am definitely proactive when excited swarms of kids are mixing into the same gallery space as those groups. Redirection to the nearest, coolest object in the collection, tends to get kids’ attention and calms the behaviour.
- Photography – Several years ago, our museum changed to a policy that allows photographs throughout our collections and gallery spaces, unless signed otherwise. Examples of areas of prohibition would be blockbuster traveling exhibits and artwork/artifacts on loan by others (as they own the copyright, not us). In saying that, sometimes an artist, such as the photographer Sebastião Salgado, gives permission for photography of his work.
Visit my profile that was added May 20th to the Meet a Museum Blogger feature on the blogsite :
sculpture on east face of the Royal Ontario Museum photo source : Lorie Pierce
And then stay on that site to meet other Museum Bloggers and find out what Jamie Glavic is doing to help connect us, get us to think through common concerns and face future opportunities and challenges. You can also follow Jamie’s tweets @MuseumMinute
This weekend we are celebrating our Earth Sciences collection and research. Here’s a sample of a gorgeous Quartz (amethyst variety) featured in the central rotunda.
amethyst crystals photo source : Lorie Pierce
More information on rock, mineral and space related activities to follow.
It’s the busy time of year for school trips. The main challenge is to get them all in through a confined space, seat them at lunch and try to make sure everyone has an awesome experience.
- one of two guardian lions greet the school buses photo source : Lorie Pierce
buses nose to nose in bus lane photo source : Lorie Pierce
lockers for coats, hats, backpacks & lunches photo source : Lorie Pierce
school lunchroom – the overflow are seated upstairs photo source : Lorie Pierce
On this May day over 1,000 students attended the museum – mainly between 10 am and 2 pm. An efficient group organizing strategy and sufficient well-trained staff are essential to make everything run smoothly. We use walkie-talkies at key locations and entry staff have printouts of which classes are in the building, when they arrive, leave and have their lunch break. High schoolers can leave the building for lunch (using the school entrance). Public school aged students eat in the school lunchroom but sometimes head outdoors in warmer weather to an adjacent park.
Our museum’s Ornithology Collection now houses 144,000 specimens (eggs, skins, skeletons, blood and tissues). International in scope, the collection received an early anchoring donation in 1940 from the bequest of the 32,000 bird collection of James Henry Fleming. This Toronto native had a house extension built to hold his collection. Potentially one of the earliest documented cases of OCD – obsessive (ornithological) collection disorder. See Fleming’s bio at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Henry_Fleming
Collected specimens date from 1812 to recent acquisitions. Most of the recent donations are birds killed in migration when hitting tall office towers. (see Fatal Light Awareness Program at www.flap.org)
The museum also has the skeleton of the Moa from New Zealand, the most complete Dodo skeleton existing and the Great Auk which was collected in 1830 (see photo of mount). All of these species are now extinct.
Great Auk, related to Puffins and extinct since 1844 photo source : ROM
Increasingly, additions to our collection are blood samples from ‘catch-band-release’ programs and blood/tissue samples from birds who died from injury (usually vehicle or building collisions). DNA research is causing modifications to some classifications. For example, falcons are now considered (due to DNA study of blood/tissue samples) to be more closely related to parrots and woodpeckers than to hawks.
This is who I will be hanging out with shortly.
Ashur-nasir-pal II was king of Assyria from 883 to 859 BC. wikipedia.com
Ashurnasirpal II photo source : British Museum
Explorers have always been my heroes. I remember the sounds of their names when I was a kid … Vasco da Gama, Yuri Gagarin, Margaret Mead, Christopher Columbus, Buzz Aldrin, Robert Ballard. And now I have a present day hero (and a Canadian) ISS Commander Chris Hadfield. Following his tweets from the Space Station, I got to see our world in a real time clarity, enlightened by his poetic (yet less than 140 character) descriptions. A few samples of his recent photography.
Earth’s atmosphere photo source : Chris Hadfield
Dublin Ireland at night photo source : Chris Hadfield
Where Chris and I were both born – southern Ontario Canada photo source : Chris Hadfield
meteor crater in Chad, Africa photo source : Chris Hadfield
Mexico USA border photo source : Chris Hadfield
Sahara Desert, Africa photo source : Chris Hadfield
The experience of following his tweets has really sold me on Twitter.
Our museum recently hosted an event with South Asian community partners. Music, dance, storytelling, calligraphy and rangoli (a form of folk art).
Rangoli are decorative designs made on living room and courtyard floors during Hindu festivals typically consisting of bright colors. They are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities. The ancient symbols have been passed down through the ages, from each generation to the next, keeping both the art form and the tradition alive. The patterns are typically created with materials including colored rice, dry flour, (colored) sand or even flower petals. source : wikipedia.com
Children used crayon, coloured pencils, markers or paint to colour the designs. Then added glitter and glitter glue. Not my favourite materials to work with in a space immediately adjacent to galleries but the glittery results were spectacular.
Also, since paint and glue take a long time to dry, there needed to be a space to store the artwork so the families could come back for it. It was necessary to search for an extra table and plastic coverings to accommodate the fifty 8 x 10 inch masterpieces left for hours to dry. Each child added his/her name so the owner could find it later.
If you use this idea in programming, I would recommend the addition of information about rangoli art and the materials commonly used in creating these amazing floor designs.